n South African Computer Journal - Using action research in information systems design to address change : a South African Health Information Systems case study : reviewed article

Volume 2006, Issue 37
  • ISSN : 1015-7999
  • E-ISSN: 2313-7835



This paper advocates for the use of Action Research (AR) approaches in the designing of Information Systems (IS). Following a brief overview of the history of AR as a research methodology and its use in IS research, a framework for describing the AR process is developed. This framework is then used to describe the AR process involved in the design and development of a paper based and orally communicated child health IS. However, a common criticism of AR in IS design is the focus on the output of the AR and the lack of rigour in the description of AR projects. This paper addresses this gap by focusing on the process of the design and development of the IS in the case study. It also contributes to the contemporary debate in AR literature by outlining four ways in which the AR approach can be conducted and described in a more rigourous manner. The four concerns which need to be addressed in describing the process and output of an AR approach are the need to: make explicit the epistemology of the researcher(s) or practitioner(s) in any AR project; adopt a participatory AR and longitudinal approach to avoid the conflict of 'serving two masters'; develop networks of action, and; develop and disseminate generalisations and learnings from the research.

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