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Abstract

In this paper, we argue that information researchers should use images as a source of data. The information systems field is overwhelmingly visual in nature. Not only is the Internet crammed with images, but also almost every detail observed during fieldwork in different research settings can be captured in the form of digital images. Yet, we rarely engage with those images. Except for sporadic video recordings in analyzing human-computer interaction and, more recently, neurophysiological imaging, using images in information systems research has been sparse and non-systematic. Where images are used, the purpose of using them has been largely restricted to visually representing the context of the research setting. This approach underuses the knowledge embedded in visual material, which needs to be unpacked in a systematic fashion. We discuss the theoretical underpinnings of visual research and illustrate via a three-step framework how images in information systems research can be collected, analyzed, and presented. We conclude with four considerations for researchers that can help them develop a visual research capacity in information systems and encourage researchers to engage with the images that are now a major feature of the information systems environment.

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