Uncovering the Intellectual Core of the Information Systems Discipline

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Authors: A. Sidorova, N. Evangelopoulos, J.S. Valacich, T. Ramakrishnan

Publication Year: 2008

Source: http://aisel.aisnet.org/misq/vol32/iss3/3/

Journal: MIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems

Volume: 32

Issue: 3

Categories: Information Management


What is the intellectual core of the information systems discipline? This study uses latent semantic analysis to examine a large body of published IS research in order to address this question. Specifically, the abstracts of all research papers over the time period from 1985 through 2006 published in three top IS research journals—MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and Journal of Management Information Systems—were analyzed. This analysis identified five core research areas: (1) information technology and organizations; (2) IS development; (3) IT and individuals; (4) IT and markets; and (5) IT and groups. Over the time frame of our analysis, these core topics have remained quite stable. However, the specific research themes within each core area have evolved significantly, reflecting research that has focused less on technology development and more on the social context in which information technologies are designed and used. As such, this analysis demonstrates that the information systems academic discipline has maintained a relatively stable research identity that focuses on how IT systems are developed and how individuals, groups, organizations, and markets interact with IT.

Critical Reflection

The authors tackle the issues pertaining to the nature of the Information Systems – what is its true identity and what items does it really reflect. The research question itself, explanatory in nature is explained through the papers real purpose – explaining what Information Systems is. Through Positivist approach, the authors are trying to tackle one single definition of the paper. The approach itself seems reliable, valid and replicable, as the research approach provides the readers with a coherent set of data which allows any reader to trace the chain of thought behind the process of coming up with the conclusion. The approach is valid, as factors taken into consideration are strictly related to the subject. The research itself is also replicable as we can retrace all the steps The relevance of this paper is strictly academic – the authors are trying to contribute to the academics by offering their insights in the field of Information Systems by conducting quantified, Comparative Design research. The authors offer content analysis of previously published papers and analyze factors relating to the topics relevant to the field, researching what exactly changes over time in the Information Systems field. The data analysis of the data provided in the Appendix section of the article provides us with a good scope of information and the paper cuts to the point quickly, where we are able to see how Information Systems science field changed and what is the definition of the field itself. The researchers themselves provide us with a conclusion that even though the identity of the Information Systems research field is strong, and with over 100 themes changing over the course of time, the field itself is a challenge to any new researcher who wants to tackle issues identified with Information Systems. The paper itself has some limitations, such as concentration on the North American literature, but I believe that the paper is a great starting point for any student who is just starting in the field.