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Abstract

Information systems (IS) research has a rich history of self-referential research efforts, i.e., those in which the object under study happens to be IS research itself. The nature of such inquiry has always been an ontological pursuit of the identity of IS research. In the current paper, we adopt a positivistic approach to what exactly is the identity of IS research. We extrapolate the IS discipline as an organization using concepts from organizational identity, and incorporate the quest for identity as a form of social identity, thus bringing it within the theoretical realm of the social identity theory. We posit that the best way to seek out this ontological pursuit is by looking at the observations of IS research from its highest level of abstraction–that is, from a metaresearch perspective. We examine the literature and identify major recurrent themes that discuss the identity of IS research–those that focus on the essence, the sustainability, indeed, the very future of IS research. We develop a framework based on this overarching quest for identity as a unifying theme that integrates the diverse streams as dimensions of achieving identity. These metaresearch streams include rigor, relevance, diversity and the essential core. We also look at current trends in IS research and highlight how they appear to correlate well with this research framework.

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