November 6, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m., BN-4000
The Practice of Qualitative Research in the IS Discipline: An Evolutionary View and Some Implications for Authors and Evaluators
Qualitative research in information systems (IS) has come a long way, from being dismissed as “exploratory research” or “pre-research,” not worthy of being featured in leading “scientific” journals, to being seen as legitimate and even welcome within much of the mainstream IS research community. Despite these positive developments and the gradual inclusion of qualitative work in high-profile mainstream outlets, noted academics have expressed concerns about the “disproportionately low number of qualitative articles in top journals,” and attributed this pattern to (among other reasons) “perceptions of negative bias against qualitative approaches from editors and reviewers in leading journals” (Conboy et al. 2012, p. 113). To help make sense of the situation, in this paper, a critical commentary on the arena of qualitative research in the IS is offered that reflects on why reviewer or editorial evaluations of qualitative manuscripts, with respect to methodological issues, are often perceived as being “prejudiced” (Markus 1997). By viewing the adoption of qualitative research in the IS discipline as an evolutionary process, and by highlighting key differences among the various types of qualitative inquiry, a number of implications for both authors and evaluators of qualitative manuscripts become visible.
Dr. Sarker is a professor of information technology at the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia. He concurrently holds the part-time appointments of chair of technology and information management at Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom (UK), and of visiting distinguished professor at Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki, Finland. Dr. Sarker is primarily a qualitative researcher and his work has been published in leading IS outlets including the MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of the AIS, Journal of the MIS, and Decision Sciences. Dr. Sarker is currently serving as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the AIS, a senior editor of Decision Sciences Journal, a senior editor (emeritus) of MIS Quarterly, a member of the board of editors of Journal of the MIS, and an editorial board member of IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management. He is a past recipient of the Stafford Beer Medal (with Prof. S. Sahay) awarded by the OR Society, UK.