Abstract

Both the information base, on which IS research and practice is founded, and its accessibility continue to grow rapidly. A major challenge facing the IS community in the next decade will be discovering how to extract knowledge, useful to, and usable by, all in the community, from this fragmented, disparate, often conflicting and sometimes unevaluated resource. This challenge is not unique to IS, and the concept of ‘evidencebased’ practice is already used by the healthcare community to address these same issues. Emerging as a considered response to the increasing need for efficient and effective use of resources, evidence-based healthcare relies heavily on the timely dissemination of ‘best evidence’ to a wide audience of health practitioners. A formal methodology for the critical appraisal and systematic review of primary research has been developed and, through the Cochrane Collaboration, has become an important means of synthesising and disseminating information to inform practitioners’ and managers’ decision-making. Here, we explore the application of the fundamental elements of evidence-based healthcare to IS. We define 'evidence-based Information Systems' (EBIS) as a mechanism for facilitating informed decision-making and providing indications of valuable research directions through the promotion of conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence, as determined by the rigorous evaluation and synthesis of all relevant evidential sources. The provision of the results of such evaluations and syntheses in the public domain is also promoted as something from which managers, practitioners and researchers would all benefit. This research initiative, which is in its preliminary stages, does not expect to establish a formal methodology or to undertake systematic reviews in isolation, rather it hopes to facilitate and coordinate such work. Hence, through this paper we hope to generate debate on the principles underlying this initiative, to highlight the issues that currently appear important and to solicit active support for advancing the concept within a broader arena.

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