The field of Information Systems, it is argued, suffers from identity crisis and faces difficulties in achieving a disciplinary status (Galliers, 2006; Hassan, 2011). The IS research continues to be seen as lacking relevance and impact that negatively affects IS prospects for becoming a discipline. Key charges include the narrow research focus and a rigid application of research methods that constrain investigative possibilities, impede the relevance of IS research and also stifle creativity and the production of relevant knowledge. Given a historical privileging of the positivist research approach and associated methods (survey and experiments in particular) IS research has been slow in adopting other approaches and expanding research methods. While this is gradually happening and IS researchers are seen venturing into non-positivist territories, adopting a broader range of methods (such as ethnographies or action research), the emphasis on research methods and their ‘rigorous’ application remains. After critiquing the narrow focus on methods and drawing attention to limitations of all methods, the paper proposes a broader focus on research methodology that is concerned with the ontological, epistemological, and normative assumptions behind research methods and their inherent limitations. The paper argues for a (re)turn to methodology conceived as a theory of inquiry that is contextually sensitive and evolving within a research project. The return to methodology would involve a continuous interplay between assumptions about the phenomena studied and the practical questions of designing research strategies and selecting and adopting research methods underpinned by the assumptions. The broadening of focus and the questioning of both metatheoretical assumptions and methods might open up researchers’ perspectives and stimulate the discovery of new and innovative ways of conducting research and thereby facilitate progress in the IS field.
Cecez-Kecmanovic, Dubravka, "ON METHODS, METHODOLOGIES AND HOW THEY MATTER" (2011). ECIS 2011 Proceedings. 233.