Affiliated Organization

Lancaster University, UK


Drawing on genre theory and examining action research studies in leading Information Systems (IS) journals, we develop the notion of compositional style as a tool to analyze and guide action research publication. Compositional styles represent how action researchers communicate contributions by selecting, emphasizing, and presenting certain elements of their research practices in articles. We identify and characterize five distinct compositional styles across the considered sample-from-the-trenches, area-of-concern investigation, framework investigation, problem-solving methodology investigation, and research methodology investigation. In addition, we show that action researchers within IS have favored certain compositional styles while leaving other options underexplored, we reveal important strengths and weaknesses in how studies are published, and we present exemplar articles that provide guidance on publishing action research in leading journals. Based on these results, we discuss how compositional styles can be used to develop and communicate contributions from action research studies and we offer directions for further developing action research writing and practices as an important approach to engaged scholarship within the IS field.