Information systems action research : Debunking myths and overcoming barriers

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-187
Journal / PublicationInformation and Management
Issue number2
Online published13 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


The relevance of action research as a research method in the information systems (IS) discipline is not disputed. Nevertheless, the extent to which action research is published in good journals is infrequent enough to indicate a serious problem. In this article, we explore the reasons underlying this situation and make recommendations aiming to increase both the practice and the publication of action research. To identify both the barriers to undertaking action research and potential ways of overcoming those barriers, we survey 218 authors of 120 articles demonstrating empirical action research published in 12 of our good journals during the period 1982–2016. We received 70 usable responses. We also surveyed 52 editors of selected IS journals and received 25 usable responses. Our findings are revealing as they indicate both genuine barriers associated with action research and some apparent barriers that are in reality misperceptions or myths. In reflecting on these, we emphasize the special qualities of action research. We also reflect on the critical role that action research plays in the IS field as a whole and its potential for further contributions to research and practice, given the strong and close connections with organizational problem contexts that action research requires. Finally, we make a number of recommendations that are designed to increase the incidence of action research in the IS discipline

Research Area(s)

  • Action research, Doctoral studies, Engaged research, Journals, Publishing, Relevance, Rigor