A framework for validating information systems research based on a pluralist account of truth and correctness
Journal of the Association for Information Systems
Association for Information Systems
School of Business and Law
Research in information systems includes a range of approaches that make varied contributions in terms of knowledge, understanding, and practical developments. In these days of “fake news” and spurious Internet content, scholarly research needs to be able to demonstrate its validity: Are its findings true and its recommendations correct? We argue that there are fundamental validation criteria that can be applied to all research approaches despite their apparent diversity and conflict. These stem from current views on the nature of truth and the related but wider concept of correctness within philosophy. There has been much debate about the nature of truth: Is it correspondence, coherence, consensual, or pragmatic? Current debates revolve around the idea of a pluralist view of truth—that there are different forms of truth depending on the context or domain. Related to truth is the wider concept of correctness: propositions may be true, but correctness can also be applied to actions, performances, or behavior for which truth is not appropriate. We develop a framework for research validity and apply it to a range of research forms including positivist, interpretive, design science, critical, and action oriented. The benefits are: (1) a greater and more explicit focus on validity criteria will produce better research; (2) having a single framework can provide some commonality between what, at times, seem like conflicting approaches to research; (3) having criteria made explicit should encourage debate and further development. The framework is applied to a variety of empirical papers employing varied research approaches.