IST 505

Design Research Methods in Information Systems & Technology

Spring Semester 2014

The Course Syllabus Provides a General Plan for the Course

Deviations May be Necessary

Class Meets:    Mondays. 4:00 – 7:50 PM, Room ACB 208.

Instructor:      [Dr. Samir Chatterjee, Professor, Fletcher Jones Chair]

Office:             Room 220, ACB (CISAT)

Office Hours:  By appointment

Telephone:      909-607-4651


All course materials will be available via your Sakai portal account

Course Overview:

It is difficult to pin down a definition of design. However Charles Eames[1] offered the following: “A plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose”. Others say that design refers to the application of synthetic and analytic process to plan and create new objects. Design is often thought of in the context of creativity or invention. Design research can indeed result in the production of beautiful, useful, and better artifacts. Design research is distinctly different from explanation research.  The goal of explanation research is to discover, understand, and explain phenomena associated with natural phenomenon or information systems.  Explanation research methods and traditions are based on natural science.  The goal of design research, on the other hand, is to invent methods and processes for designing and developing effective and efficient information systems.  The methods and traditions of design research are based on design science and sciences of the artificial (Herbert A. Simon, Sciences of the Artificial, third edition, MIT Press, 1996). Design research paradigm is fundamentally a problem solving paradigm.

The course begins with a fundamental discussion on what is research and the process behind being a successful researcher. Then a number of distinct research methods used in Information Systems is introduced. Design Science research paradigm is then discussed. A framework is presented in detail that helps students grasp the big picture in IS design research. Several exemplar design papers from journals and conferences are discussed and analyzed. There are a number of well-known design companies that exists around the world. We review the methodology that is followed by these companies as they design useful objects for everyday use.

The course develops skills for implementing and evaluating the techniques and methods that are used in the various phases of design research.  After an exposure to the characteristics that differentiate design research from other types of research, research methods and techniques used in the various phases of such research will be discussed in the context of exemplars of such research.  Common methods that are used in both the important phases of design research namely, building and evaluation will be covered. Managing design projects for commercial clients and their issues are also discussed. The exemplars will be from a number of information systems areas such as software engineering, networking, Internet technologies, information security, telemedicine, database, e-commerce, wireless information systems and others. Students will work on their own design research proposal.

Prof. Chatterjee founded the International Conference on Design Science Research in IS&T (aka DESRIST). CGU and CISAT research is now well known in this field. Please check ( for more information on DESRIST 2013. DESRIST was started in Claremont (2006), and later were held in Pasadena (2007), Atlanta (2008), Philadelphia (2009), St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2010, Milwaukee (2011), Las Vegas (2012) and Helsinki Finland (2013).

Learning Objectives:

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to:

1.       Describe the essential characteristics of design research and to differentiate it from other types of research;

2.       Discuss in oral and written form the key ideas and intellectual currents underlying design research and its methods;

3.       Present a well-developed argument, in written and oral forms, for the importance of a selected research topic within the theme of the course and articulate a proposal for conducting research on the topic.

4.       Conduct design research and write a paper that, with refinement, could be submitted to a conference.

5.    Be well-versed with the three basic elements of contemporary design projects: use of formal design methods, management of small projects with hard deadlines, and aspects of group dynamics.

Method of Instruction and Grading:

The course will be conducted as a doctoral seminar. Each student is expected to fully participate in every class and read the assigned material before the class. The student’s contribution towards group discussion, quality of comments and participation (presentations and leadership) will be noted by the instructor.

Student learning and participation will be assessed using the following methods:


Class participation:                                                      20%

Exemplar paper  presentation  & critique:                    15%

Take home midterm test:                                             15%

Final Research Paper (individual)

Problem definition project:                              5%

Background literature on domain and design:  5%

Final Research Presentation:                            10%

Final Research paper:                                      20%

 Group project on design science                               10%


Grading scale

97% – 100% A+
93% – 96.9% A
90% – 92.9% A-
87% – 89.9% B+
83% – 86.9% B
80% – 82.9% B-
77% – 79.9% C+
73% – 76.9% C
70% – 72.9% C-
Less than 70% U


Take Home Mid-Term Test:


You will be given an existing paper and then you will have a week to develop a design research proposal that is related to and extends on the research presented in the paper. The proposal must have an introduction, description of the problem, research issues and/or questions, the approach to be followed in conducting the research, the methodology to be used and its appropriateness, and the expected significance of the research. You must also do a literature review in the context of the problem and its importance for the proposal.

Final Research Paper: (Individual)

Phase 1: Problem Definition project

Each student will choose a particular topic (domain) of his/her interest. The problem should be stated as well as described. Keep in mind that the problem should have scale and scope so that you remain interested in it for the entire semester as well as later work on for a possible dissertation. Then s/he will develop an actual design science research paper around this problem.

Phase 2: Background Literature review

The student is expected to read at least 12 to 15 (possibly more) journal and conference articles that are related to the topic so that s/he can begin to formulate his/her own unique solution.

Phase 3: Final Research paper presentation and submission

This paper should be suitable for submission to a conference such as WITS, HICSS, DESRIST or any suitable IEEE/ACM/AIS venues. The student will also make an oral presentation of this research paper. The student needs to argue why the proposed research is important, and why there is reason to believe that the research will be successfully completed. Note that several students who have taken his course in the past have published papers in conferences such as HICSS and Trudi Miller’s paper received the best paper award at HICSS 2007.

Exemplar papers presentation & critique

Each student will choose or will be assigned a paper in class to present every week. The papers will be mainly chosen from the list provided in the syllabus or it can also be from any other relevant sources. The idea is to read the paper, absorb the material and critique the paper in terms of its merits and drawbacks. Throughout the critique, special attention is to be given to design research principles.


Alan Hevner and Samir Chatterjee. Design Research in Information Systems: Theory & Practice. Springer Publisher Inc. May 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4419-5652-1.

Supplemental Texts (useful but not required to buy):

Bringing Design to Software. Edited by Terry Winograd, Stanford University and Interval Research Corporation, with John Bennett, Laura De Young, and Bradley Hartfield
ISBN: 0-201-85491-0. 310 pp. Addison-Wesley. 1996.

Design Research: Methods and Perspectives, Brenda Laurel, editor. 2002 MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-12263-4.

Herbert A. Simon, Sciences of the Artificial, third edition, MIT Press, 1996

Bill Moogridge. Designing Interactions. 2007 MIT Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-262-13474-3.

“Thoughtful Interaction Design: A Design perspective on Information Technology”, by Jonas Lowgren, Erik Stolterman. 2004 MIT Press.

“The Design of Everyday Things”, by Donald Norman. New York Basic Books, 1998.

Additional Course Materials by Topic/Domain (Exemplar Papers):

(This list may be updated during the semester). These papers can be found in the Reading papers folder in Sakai Course page.

General Design Science Theory and Overview papers

  • A. Hevner, S. T. March, J, Park, S. Ram, “Design Science in Information Systems Research”, MIS-Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 75-105, March 2004.
  • S. T. March, G. F. Smith, “Design and Natural Science Research on Information Technology”, Decision Support Systems, 15 (1995), 251-266.
  • J. G. Walls, G. R. Widmeyer, O. A. El Sawy, “Building an Information System Design Theory for Vigilant EIS”, Information Systems Research, 3:1. March 1992.
  • J. G. Walls, G. R. Widmeyer, O. A. El Sawy, “Assessing Information System Design Theory in Perspective: How Useful was our 1992 Initial Rendition?” in JITTA 2004.
  • Design Research in Information Systems Portal maintained at
  • Action Design Research by Maung K. Sein, Ola Henfridsson, Sandeep Purao, Matti Rossi, and Rikard Lindgren, Vol 28, No. 1, MIS Quarterly 2011
  • P. Freeman, D. Hart, “A Science of Design for Software-Intensive Systems”, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 47, No. 8, August 2004.
  • Ken Peffers, Tuure Tuunanen, Marcus A. Rothenberger, Samir Chatterjee, “A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research”,  Journal of Management Information Systems (JMIS), Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 45-77, Winter 2007-8.
  • Shirley Gregor and Alan Hevner, “Positioning and Presenting Design Science Research for Maximum Impact”, MIS Quarterly, Jun 2013, Vol. 37 Issue 2, p337-A6. 25p
  • S. Keshav, “How to read a paper”, ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review, Vol. 37, No. 3, July 2007.
  • Gregor, Shirley. 2006. “The Nature of Theory in Information Systems,” MIS Quarterly, (30: 3).

Various design science research papers

  • Robert O. Briggs, Gwendolyn L. Kolfschoten, Gert-Jan de Vreede, Stephan Lukosch, Conan C. Albrecht: Facilitator-in-a-Box: Process Support Applications to Help Practitioners Realize the Potential of Collaboration Technology. JMIS 29(4): 159-194 (2013)
  • Sunny Consolvo , et. al., Activity sensing in the wild: a field trial of ubifit garden, Proceeding of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, April 05-10, 2008, Florence, Italy.
  • Matt Germonprez, Dirk Havorka, and Uri Gal, “Secondary Design: A Case of Behavioral Design Science Research,” Journal of the Association of Information Systems (2011)
  • G. Leroy and H. Chen, “Meeting Medical Terminology Needs: The Ontology-enhanced Medical Concept Mapper,” IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine, vol. 5 (4), pp 261 – 270, December 2001.
  • Samir Chatterjee, Kaushik Dutta, Qi Xie, Jongbok Byun, Akshay Pottathil, and Miles Moore,Persuasive and Pervasive Sensing: a New Frontier to Monitor, Track and Assist Older Adults Suffering from Type-2 Diabetes”, in Proceedings of IEEE Hawaii International Conference in System Sciences (HICSS-46), Maui, HI, Jan 7-10, 2013.
  • Abbasi, Ahmed; Albrecht, Conan; Vance, Anthony Osborn; and Hansen, James V.. 2012. “MetaFraud: A Meta-Learning Framework for Detecting Financial Fraud,” MIS Quarterly, (36: 4) pp.1293-1327.
  • Yasuto Nakanishi, Kazunari Takahashi, Takayuki Tsuji, Katsuya Hakozaki, “iCAMS: A Mobile Communication Tool Using Location and Schedule Information,” IEEE Pervasive Computing, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 82-88, Jan.-Mar. 2004.
  • Carla Merrill, Diane Feldman, “Rethinking the Path to Usability: How to Design What Users Really Want,” IT Professional, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 51-57, May/June 2004.
  • Bengisu Tulu, Samir Chatterjee, “Internet-based Telemedicine: An Empirical Investigation of Objective and Subjective Video Quality”, Decision Support Systems 45 (2008) 681–696 2008.
  • Detecting Fake Websites: The Contribution of Statistical Learning Theory by Ahmed Abbasi, Zhu Zhang, David Zimbra, Hsinchun Chen, Jay F. Nunamaker Jr., MIS Quarterly 2010.
  • Ofer Arazy, Nanda Kumar and Bracha Shapira, “Theory-Driven Design Framework for Social Recommender Systems,” Journal of the Association for Information Systems (2010).
  • A Cost-Based Database Request Distribution Technique for Online e-Commerce Applications by Debra VanderMeer, Kaushik Dutta, and Anindya Datta, Vol 36, No. 2, MIS Quarterly.
  • Design Principles for Virtual Worlds by Alok R. Chaturvedi, Daniel R. Dolk, and Paul L. Drnevich, MIS Quarterly 2011.
  • Design science and the accumulation of knowledge in the information systems discipline, Fred Niederman, Salvatore T. March, ACM TMIS, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012.
  • Susanne Schmidt-Rauch , Gerhard Schwabe, From telesales to tele-advisory in travel agencies: Business problems, generic design goals and requirements, ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems (TMIS), v.2 n.3, p.1-13, October 2011.
  • Katharina Reinecke and Abraham Bernstein, “Knowing What a User Likes: A Design Science Approach to Interfaces that Automatically Adapt to Culture”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2013.
  • Baskerville, R.L. “Investigating Information Systems With Action Research,” Communications of the Association for Information Systems Research (2) 1999, pp 1-32.
  • Secure Activity Resource Coordination: A Method to Design Secure Business Processes by Fergle D’Aubeterre, Rahul Singh  and Lakshmi Iyer, Proc. DESRIST 2008, Atlanta, GA, May 2008.
  • Nunamaker, J., Chen, M., and Purdin, T. D. M., “Systems Development in Information Systems Research,” Journal of Management Information Systems (7:3), Winter 1991, pp. 89-106.
  • Chidamber, S. and C. Kemerer, “A Metrics Suite for Object Oriented Design,” IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 20(6), June 1994, 476-493.
  • Oinas-Kukkonen, Harri and Harjumaa, Marja (2009) “Persuasive Systems Design: Key Issues, Process Model, and System Features,” Communications of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 24, Article 28.
  • Divya Ramachandran and John Canny.  The Persuasive Power of Human-Machine Dialogue.  H. Oinas-Kukkonen et al. (Eds.):  PERSUASIVE 2008, LNCS 5033, pp. 189-200, 2008 (Oulu, Finland), June 4-6, 2008.  Best Paper Award.]
  • Wand, Y. and R. Weber, “An Ontological Model of an Information System,” IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 16(11), November 1990, 1282-1292.
  • Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., “No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering,” IEEE Computer, April 1987, pp. 10-19.
  • Peter Pin-Shan Chen, “The Entity-Relationship Model – Towards a Unified View of Data,” ACM Transactions on Database Systems, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1976, pp. 9-36.
  • David L. Parnas, “Successful Software Engineering Research,” Software Engineering Notes, Vol. 23, No. 3, May 1998, pp. 64-68.
  • Samir Chatterjee, Tarun Abhichandani, Bengisu Tulu, Haiqing Li, “SIP-based Enterprise Converged Network for Voice/Video over IP: Implementation and Evaluation of Components”, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications (JSAC), Vol. 23, No. 10, October 2005.
  • Sven Carlsson, Stefan Henningsson, Stefan Hrastinski and Christina Keller, “Towards a Design Science Research Approach for IS Use and Management: Applications from the Areas of Knowledge Management, E-Learning and IS Integration” Proc. Of DESRIST 2008, Atlanta, GA, May 2008.
  • Ram, S., and Park, J., “Semantic Conflict Resolution Ontology (SCROL): An Ontology for Detecting and Resolving Data and Schema-Level Semantic Conflicts, IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, Vol.16, No.2, February 2004, pp.189-202.
  • M. Gupta, P. Judge, M. Ammar, “A Reputation System for Peer-to-Peer Networks”, in Proc. NOSSDAV’03, June 1-3, 2003, Monterrey, CA.
  • Yariv Aridor, David Carmel, Yoelle S. Maarek, Aya Soffer, Ronny Lempel, “Knowledge encapsulation for focused search from pervasive devices,” ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS),  Volume 20, Issue 1, January 2002.
  • Y. Zhou, F. Huang, H. Chen, “Combining Probability Model and Web Mining Model: A Framework for proper name Transliteration”, in WITS 2005, December 2005, Las Vegas.
  • Anindya Datta, Kaushik Dutta, Qianhui Liang, Debra VanderMeer, “SOA Performance Enhancement Through XML Fragment Caching”, Information Systems Research, Vol. 23, No. 2, June 2012, pp. 505-535.
  • Felix Müller-Wienbergen, Oliver Müller, Stefan Seidel, Jörg Becker, “Leaving the Beaten Tracks in Creative Work – A Design Theory for Systems that Support Convergent and Divergent Thinking”, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Vol. 12, No. 11, 2011.
  • H Chen, AL Houston, RR Sewell, BR Schatz, Internet browsing and searching: User evaluations of category map and concept space techniques, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 1998.
  • JF Nunamaker, RO Briggs, DD Mittleman, DR Vogel, Lessons from a Dozen Years of Group Support Systems Research: A Discussion of Lab and Field Findings, JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS, 1997.
  • D. Berndt, A. Hevner, and J. Studnicki, “The CATCH Data Warehouse: Support for Community Health Care Decision Making,” Decision Support Systems, Vol. 35, June 2003, pp. 367-384.
  • Tim S. McLaren, Milena M. Head, Yufei Yuan, Yolande E. Chan, “A Multilevel Model for Measuring Fit Between a Firm’s Competitive Strategies and Information Systems Capabilities”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2011.
  • Lili Yang, Guofeng Su, Hongyong Yuan, “Design Principles of Integrated Information Platform for Emergency Responses: The Case of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games”, Information Systems Research, Vol. 23, No. 3, Sept 2012.
  • Juhani Heikka, Richard Baskerville, Mikko Siponen, “A Design Theory for Secure Information Systems Design Methods”, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, Vol. 7, No. 11, 2006.


Lecture and Presentation Schedule

Date Topic Readings/Presentations
1/27/14 What is Design? What is Research? What is Design Research?

What are the characteristics of design research in IS?

(intro slides)

Chapter 1 (Hevner & Chatterjee);

Read March & Smith, 1995.

IS World Portal at

2/3/14 Understanding Design Research in IS (Hevner framework slides)

DSR Frameworks

Chapter 2 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

Hevner et al., 2004;

Chapter 3 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

2/10/14  12 Thesis on DSR


Chapter 5 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

Librarian guest talk

2/17/14 Science of Design in SIS

Software design manifesto

Design of the Conceptual Model

Design Languages

Chapter 6 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

Read Gregor & Hevner, 2013.

2/24/14 People & Design

Qualitative methods, ethnography, paradox for design research


Chapter 7 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

(Ethnographic and qualitative slides)

(broader perspective on design slides)

Problem Definition Project Due.

3/3/14 On Design Theory

Building Theory

Chapter 4 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

Read Walls, Widmeyer, El Sawy, 1992.

Read Gregor, 2006.

3/10/14 Software Technology Design and Development: Past and Present

Take Home Test Handed out.

Chapter 8 (Hevner & Chatterjee)


3/24/14 Action Research Methods (ADR slides)

Conceptual Designs

Prototypes (slides)

Chapter 13 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

Read Sein, Henfridsson et. al., 2011.

Background literature project due.

3/31/14 Evaluation – methods and techniques

Use of Focus Groups


Chapter 9 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

Chapter 10 (Hevner & Chatterjee)

4/7/14  Creativity & Design


Chapter 11 (Hevner & Chatterjee)


4/14/14 Examples of DSR Chapter 12 & 16 (Hevner & Chatterjeee)
4/21/14 DSR in Management Disciplines

Publishing your research

Strategies & Techniques


Chapter 14 (Hevner & Chatterjee)


Chapter 17, 18 (Hevner & Chatterjee)


4/21/14 DSR for Energy Informatics
4/28/14 Final Research Presentation Student presentations.
5/5/14 Final Research Presentation Student Presentations.
5/12/14 Final Discussions Final research paper due.

(This is only a suggested schedule. Deviations may be necessary.

Guest Speakers: Please note that a few guest speakers would be invited to talk to the class based on availability and scheduling. The following IS scholars who have published in DSR will be asked to talk to the class.

Alan Hevner, University of South Florida

Monica Tremblay, Florida International University

Robert O. Briggs, San Diego State University

Matti Rossi, Alto University, Finland

Kaushik Dutta, National University of Singapore

Omar El Sawy, University of Southern California

Class Participation:

The course is only effective when participants have prepared readings on topics being discussed in class and are ready to contribute to the class discussion. Students are expected to provide their experiences either at work, prior job and somewhere else that relates to topics being discussed.

Both the quantity of comments (i.e. how many times a student speaks) and, more importantly, the quality of the comments will be taken into account. The quality of your comments will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Does the comment represent a solid analysis of facts or just a reiteration of what was said?
  • Does the comment address the question currently on the floor, or is it way off the mark?
  • Does the comment demonstrate an ability to listen to and build from what others have said?
  • Is the point made concisely, or is it buried in a long, rambling, diatribe?
  • Does the comment move the discussion to an important area or does it just rephrase what has already been said?

Instructors Policy:

Students are expected to attend all classes (and to arrive on time!), except when precluded by emergencies, religious holidays or other extenuating circumstances. If you will be absent from class for any reason, please notify the instructor in advance whenever possible. If you have an unusual situation that will affect your class attendance, please discuss this with me. All students are expected to be prepared to discuss each exemplar research paper and also critique the presentations of others. In assigning grades, both your class attendance and your contribution during class discussions will be taken into consideration. I will be keeping tabs on how active you are in case discussions and other discussions throughout the semester.

Policy on Plagiarism:

It is understood that each student is subject to rules related to academic honesty. In no case is plagiarism accepted in academic endeavors. If you use someone else’s work, you must provide a citation about that use, whether it comes from a published paper, an unpublished paper or assignment, or any other source. Failure to meet this ethical standard will result in disciplinary action, which can range from receiving a failing grade on an assignment, to automatic failure of the class, to a withdrawal from your academic program.

Welcome to the Course!

[1] Eames, Charles and Ray. Design Q&A. Color Film, 1972.