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Abstract

Examining action research publications in leading Information Systems journals as a particular genre of research communication, we develop the notion of style composition to understand how authors structure their arguments for a research contribution. We define style composition as the activity through which authors select, emphasize, and present elements of their research to establish premises, develop inferences, and present contributions in publications. Drawing on this general notion, we identify a set of styles that is characteristic of how IS action researchers compose their argument. Premise styles relate to the dual goals of action research through practical or theoretical positioning of the argument; inference styles combine insights from the problem-solving and the research cycles through inductive or deductive reasoning; and contribution styles focus on different types of contributions—experience report, field study, theoretical development, problem-solving method, and research method. Based on the considered sample, we analyze the styles adopted in selected publications and show that authors have favored certain styles while leaving others underexplored; further, we reveal important strengths and weaknesses in the composition of styles within the IS discipline. Based on these insights, we discuss how action research practices and writing can be improved, as well as how to further develop style compositions to support the publication of engaged scholarship research.

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