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Abstract

Participatory design (PD) and its derivative distributed participatory design (DPD) are examples of collaborative research methods that have been successfully applied to information systems problems. Yet, there are other collaborative research methods such as action research and design science that have also been used in the same context. This paper argues that this trifurcation in collaborative methods is unhelpful and that the ‘walled gardens’ in which these methods exist inhibit learning and the methods’ development. As PD moves to tackle the problems that arise in distributed projects, it becomes more necessary to look outside its own domain for solutions. This paper investigates whether collaborative research projects that are categorized under one method also match the characteristics of the other methods. It finds that research projects using different methods demonstrate remarkable similarities concerning research contributions, roots, and methodological guidelines, but use different terminologies, and also maintain method-specific publication outlets and communities. Thus, insight into some of the issues raised by participatory design in distributed contexts may arise if PD looks outside its walled garden.

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