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Posted on Jul 21, 2010 in Research summaries

Hevner et al 2004: Design Science in Information Systems Research

Hevner, A., March, S., Park, J., and Ram, S. “Design Science in Information Systems Research,” MIS Quarterly (28:1) 2004, pp. 75-105.

I read this paper to learn about the design research paradigm.

  • Rationale: IS research features two paradigms: the dominant behavioural science, and the secondary design science. Whereas behavioural science as applied to IS is well-understood and explained, design science is not as well covered. Whereas behavioural science is most concerned about "truth (justified theory)", design science is most concerned about "utility (artifacts that are effective)"; these two sides of IS research are complementary.
  • Objectives: This study presents a framework for IS research that shows the complementary roles of behavioural science and design science; it provides seven guidelines for conducting and evaluating design science research in IS; and it reviews three exemplar papers through the lens of these guidelines.
  • Key questions: This is a guideline paper that is structured in three sections: what is the framework within which design science fits within IS research; what are the key guidelines for conducting design science in IS research; and how do some exemplar papers practice these guidelines?
  • Theoretical background: This paper uses a dual-paradigm model of behavioural science and design science to categorize IS research approaches.
  • Methodology: The authors draw on their own experience and literature review to answer the questions. They do not attempt to explain how they came up with the seven guidelines, which is the primary contribution of the paper.
  • Data sources if any: They apply their guidelines to three exemplar design science papers from IS research.
  • Key findings: The result of the study is the framework, the guidelines, and their review of the exemplars.

    • Framework: The business environment consists of people, organizations, and technology. IS research either develops and builds artifacts or justifies and evaluates them through analytical or empirical testing. The IS research knowledge base consists of foundations and methodologies. The environment presents business needs as subjects of IS research , which in turn applies findings to the appropriate environment; this cycle assures the relevance of research. The knowledge base offers applicable knowledge to IS research, which in turn adds its findings to the knowledge base; this cycle assures the rigour of the research.
    • Guidelines for evaluation of design research: An artifact must be produced; the problem must be relevant; the design must be rigorously evaluated; there must be original research contributions; the methods for artifact construction and evaluation must be rigorous; there must be a search process to obtain the artifact; the research must be adequately communicated to both technical and managerial (decision-making) audiences.
  • Key contribution to knowledge: The most important contribution is the seven guidelines for evaluation of design research, including the examples of this application in existing research.
  • Key implications: This paper encourages more design research in IS, which would result in more explicitly relevant research. It provides guidelines on how to do this rigorously, assuring the value of the contributions.

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