The dynamic and diverse nature of the Information Technology (IT) industry presents an interesting challenge for scholars, as they seek to establish a tradition for IT research. As technologies and methodologies appear, evolve, and fade away, they provide both an opportunity to gain new and increasingly diverse knowledge and a challenge to rise above the fray and incorporate this dynamism into a coherent body of knowledge. Vessey, Ramesh, and Glass (2002) believed that the progression of IT research is dependent upon the ability of scholars to develop fundamental, lasting theoretical frameworks which are both independent of, but still applicable to the current state of the IT industry. Thus, the primary goal for researchers should be to focus on the basic, underlying characteristics of IT that may be incorporated into theory and not with its superficial trappings.
These authors explored the diversity present in IT research by investigating the variety of subject matter that had been published in leading IT related journals. They developed a comprehensive classification system that incorporated the areas of computer science, software engineering, and information systems, as well as associated disciplines consisting of cogitative psychology, social and behavioral sciences, economics, management, and management science. The authors’ goal was to provide researchers with a guide for determining which publication would be the most appropriate medium for their work.
From my interpretation of their article, I feel the authors were advocating that IT research should focus on the development of a solid theoretical foundation without becoming distracted by current technologies. Thus, the issue of relevance becomes more than merely a problem, but instead serves as a test against which one’s research may be critiqued. I suggest that research based upon the latest technological or procedural trend may not stand the test of time and as a result would indeed lose its relevance. Perhaps for one’s research to have a lasting influence on the IT body of knowledge, it should focus not on the transient issues of the day, but instead on core principles. I propose the purpose of IT academic research should be to develop core theories that may then be used to address current issues.
Compared with other academic pursuits, IT research is still relatively new and its body of knowledge is drawn from numerous and diverse fields. One course of future investigation could involve examining the degree to which IT theory has coalesced theories from other disciplines into its own since Vessey et al. (2002) published their article.
Vessey, I., Ramesh, V., & Glass, R. (2002, Fall). Research in information systems: An empirical study of diversity in the discipline and its journals. Journal of Management Information Systems, 19(2), 129-174.