Systems development in information systems research

Jay F. Nunamaker, Minder Chen, Titus D.M. Purdin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

734 Scopus citations


In this paper, the use of systems development as a methodology in information systems (IS) research is described and defended. A framework to explain the nature of systems development as a research methodology in IS research is proposed. Use of this methodology in the engineering field in general is compared with its use specifically in computer science and computer engineering. An integrated program for conducting IS research that incorporates theory building, systems development, experimentation, and observation is proposed. Progress in several application domains is reviewed to provide a basis upon which to argue that systems development is a valid research methodology. A systems development research process is presented from a methodological perspective. Software engineering, which is the basic method of applying the systems development research methodology, is then discussed. It is the authors' belief that systems development and other research methodologies are complementary and that an integrated multi-dimensional and multimethodological approach will generate fruitful IS research results. The premise is that research contributions can result from systems development, experimentation, observation, and performance testing of the systems under development and that all of these research approaches are needed to investigate different aspects of the research question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-106
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Management Information Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990


  • Research methodology
  • Software engineering
  • Systems development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Information Systems and Management


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