n South African Computer Journal - A social representations analysis of design science research

Volume 56, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1015-7999
  • E-ISSN: 2313-7835



Compared to positivist survey and interpretive case study research, design science research (DSR) is a relatively novel and unfamiliar research paradigm within the computing field in South Africa. In light of recent interest in the DSR paradigm, this study sought to investigate how local computing researchers familiarise themselves with an unfamiliar paradigm and what their perspectives of DSR are. Key theoretical concepts from social representations theory (SRT), such as 'anchoring' and 'objectification', were used to explore how researchers constructed their understanding of DSR. A visual approach was used to administer drawing and association tasks to two focus groups; each focus group comprised around 25 participants ranging from doctoral students to experienced researchers. The focus group discussions invoked interesting complementary and distinctive associations about the process and content of DSR, specifically when anchored in dominant and conventional research practices. The results also illustrated several ways in which DSR is objectified in drawings and metaphorical constructions. This study concludes that SRT is useful for exploring beliefs about novel and relatively unfamiliar research practices. This study also contributes to an enhanced understanding of how computing researchers adapt to changing research practices. The findings are developed into recommendations for introducing changes to research practices. These recommendations can be used to direct efforts to more appropriately accommodate changing research practices within the computing community to broaden knowledge generation.

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