Readings For IS Researchers and Doctoral Students

1. Fascinating readings about the process of research

This is a short collection of “must-read” papers and books for IS PhD students, from a social theory perspective.
The list needs some updating, but I was asked to make it available again, so here it is.
If you cannot find a copy of some of the older papers and books via inter-library loan, contact me, as some of these may be out of print - I have copies!

Study Skills and The PhD Process

  • Davis, G. B. and Parker, C. A. (1997) Writing the Doctoral Dissertation: A Systematic Approach (2nd Edition), Barrons Educational Series.
  • Hart, Christopher (1999) Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination, Sage Publications
  • Glatthorn, A.A. (1998) Writing The Winning Dissertation, A Step-By-Step Guide, Corwin Press, Sage Publications.
  • Lovitts, B.E. How To Grade A Dissertation, Academe, Nov-Dec 2005, 18-23.

Writing & Evaluating Research Papers

Constructing & Communicating Your Research Question (With Theoretical Justification)

[Qualitative] Research Methods, Relevance and Rigor

Schwarz, N. (1999). 'Self-reports: How the questions shape the answers'. American Psychologist, 54 (2), 93-105.

2. Theoretical perspectives on research (ontology and epistemology)

Books highlighted in red are those that I particularly recommend as "life-changing"!

Social constructivist theories

  • Berger, P. L. and Luckman, T. (1966) The Social Construction Of Reality: A Treatise In The Sociology of Knowledge, Doubleday & Company Inc., Garden City N.Y.
  • Bijker, W. E., Hughes, T. P. and Pinch, T. J. (1987) The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, MIT Press, Cambridge MA
  • Emery, F.E. & Trist, E.L. (1960) ‘Socio-Technical Systems’ in C.W. Churchman & M. Verhulst (Eds.) Management Science Models and Techniques, Vol. 2, Pergamon Press, Oxford, UK
  • Latour, B. (1987) Science in Action, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA – The origin of actor-network theory
  • MacKenzie, D. A. and Wajcman, J. (1999) The Social Shaping Of Technology, Open University Press, Milton Keynes UK.

Situated action, sensemaking and situated learning theories

  • Brown, J.S. & Duguid, P. (1991) "Organizational Learning and Communities of Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working, Learning, and Innovation", Organization Science, Vol.2, No. 1, pp. 40-57.
  • Lave. J. (1998) Cognition In Practice: Mind Mathematics And Culture In Everyday Life, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK
  • Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.
  • Schön, D. A. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action, Basic Books, New York NY.
  • Suchman, L. (1987) Plans And Situated Action, Cambridge University Press, MA, USA Weick, K. (1979) The Social Psychology of Organizing, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA
  • Weick, K.E. Sensemaking In Organizations, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks CA, 1995.
  • Weick, K.E. Making Sense of the Organization, Blackwell Scientific, Malden MA, 2001. [This is a collection of Karl Weick's articles, including some "foundation" papers and studies].
  • Winograd, T. & Flores, F. (1986) Understanding Computers And Cognition, Ablex Corporation, Norwood, New Jersey

Theories of systemic action

  • Checkland, P. (1981) Systems Thinking Systems Practice, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester UK.
  • Checkland, P. (1998) Information, Systems and Information Systems: Making Sense of the Field, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.
  • Rittell, H.W.J. (1972) ‘Second Generation Design Methods’ Reprinted in N. Cross (Ed.) Developments In Design Methodology (1984), J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, pp 317-327
  • Winter, M. C., Brown, D. H. and Checkland, P. B. (1995) A Role For Soft Systems Methodology in Information Systems Development. European Journal of Information Systems, 4 (3), 130-142.


Mental models, framing, and social cognition

This section mainly refers to social psychology and not the cognitive psychology literature most often associated with HCI. But I have included some of the "seminal" cognitive psychology references relating to mental models, schema and scripts.

  • Bandura, A. Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1986.
  • Bartlett, F. Remembering: A Study In Experimental And Social Psychology, Cambridge University Press, London, UK, 1932. [Theory of schemas]
  • Bijker, W.E. Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs: Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996. Ensink, T. and Sauer, C. Framing And Perspectivising In Discourse, University of Groningen, Groningen, Germany, 2003.
  • Goffman, E. Frame Analysis, Harper and Row, New York, NY, 1974.
  • Gasson, S. "A Framework For Behavioral Studies of Social Cognition In Information Systems," ISOneWorld: Engaging Executive Information Systems Practice, Information Institute, Las Vegas, NV, 2004.
  • Gentner, D. and Stevens, A.L. Mental Models, Erlbaum, Hillsdale N.J., 1983.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. Mental Models: Towards a Cognitive Science of Language, Inference, and Consciousness, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983.
  • MacLachlan, G. and Reid, I. Framing and Interpretation, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, Australia, 1994.
  • Neisser, U. Cognition and Reality, W.H. Freeman, San Francisco CA, 1976. [Theory of schemas, scripts and mental models]
  • Orlikowski, W.J. and Gash, D.C. "Technological Frames: Making Sense of Information Technology in Organizations," ACM Transactions on Information Systems (12:2), April 1994. 1994, pp 174-207.
  • Resnick, L.B. Levine, J.M. and Teasley, S.D. (eds.) Perspectives on socially shared cognition, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 1991.
    This book includes a collection of some excellent articles. Some of my favorites are:
      - Krauss, R.M. and Fussell, S.R. "Constructing shared communicative environments," pp. 172-200
      - Lave, J. "Situating Learning In Communities of Practice,"
      - Resnick, L.B. "Shared Cognition: Thinking As Social Practice," pp. 1-20.
  • Schank, R.C. and Abelson, R.P. Scripts, plans, goals, and understanding: An inquiry into human knowledge structures, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ, 1977.
  • Schmidt, K. "Of Maps and Scripts," Proceedings of GROUP 97 ACM SIG: Distributed Group Work, University of Phoenix Arizona, 1997, pp. 138-147.
  • Tannen, D. "What's In A Frame?" in: Framing in Discourse, D. Tannen (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 1993.
  • Walsh, J.P., Henderson, C.M., and Deighton, J. "Negotiated Belief Structures and Decision Performance: An Empirical Investigation," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (42:2) 1988, pp 194-216.

Activity theories

  • Blumer, H. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs,  NJ, 1969.
  • Halverson, C.A. "Activity Theory and Distributed Cognition: Or What Does CSCW Need to DO with Theories?" Computer Supported Cooperative Work (11:1-2) 2002, pp 243-267.
  • Hutchins, E. "The Social Organization of Distributed Cognition," in: Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition, L.B. Resnick, J.M. Levine and S.D. Teasley (eds.), American Psychological Association., Washington DC, 1991.
  • Nardi, B. "Studying context: a comparison of activity theory, situated action models, and distributed cognition," in: Context and consciousness: activity theory and human-computer interaction, B. Nardi (ed.), MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1995, pp. 69-102.
  • Vygotsky, L.S. Mind in Society, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1978.

3. Interesting research domains

Organizational and group learning, problem-solving, decision-making and design

  • Adams, C. and Avison, D.E. "Dangers inherent in the use of techniques: identifying framing influences," Information Technology & People (16:2) 2003, pp 203-234.
  • Argyris, C. & Schön, D. (1978) Organizational Learning: A Theory Of Action Perspective, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass.
  • Browne, G.J. and Pitts, M.G. "Stopping Rule Use During Information Search in Design Problems," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (95) 2004, pp 208-224.
  • Eden, C., Jones, S., and Sims, D. Messing About In Problems, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1983. Fauconnier, G. Mental Spaces: Aspects of Meaning Construction in Natural Language, (2nd. ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1994.
  • Flood, R., L, "What is happening when you problem-solve? A Critical Systems Perspective," Systems Practice (8:2) 1995, pp 215-222.
  • Goldkuhl, G. and Rostlinger, A. "Joint Elicitation of Problems: Important Aspects of Change Analysis," Proceedings of IFIP WG8.2 Conference (A-24): Human Organizational and Social Dimensions of Information Systems Development, Noorwijkerhout The Netherlands, 1993.
  • Lorenz, E. "Models of Cognition, the Contextualisation of Knowledge and Organisational Theory," Journal of Management and Governance (5:3), Jan. 2001 2001, pp 307-330.
  • Mintzberg, H. "The Design School: Reconsidering The Basic Premises Of Strategic Management,"  (11:3) 1990, pp 171-195.
  • Mitroff, I.I. and Kilmann, R.H. "Stories Managers Tell: A New Tool For Organisational Problem Solving," Management Review (64:7), July 1975 1975, pp 18-28.
  • Mitroff, I.I. and Linstone, H. The Unbounded Mind: Breaking The Chains of Traditional Business Thinking, Oxford University Press, New York, 1993.
  • Preston, A. "The problem in and of management information systems," Accounting Management and Information Technology (11) 1991, pp 43-69.
  • Walz, D., Elam, J., and Curtis, B. "Inside A Design Team: Knowledge Acquisition Sharing and Integration," Communications of the ACM October 1993 (36:10) 1993, pp 63-77.

Individual learning, problem-solving, decision-making and design processes:

  • Alexander, C. Notes On The Synthesis Of Form, McGraw Hill, New York NY, 1964. [This is the book that crystallized the move towards hierachical decomposition and the theories of human problem-solving as computer-like information processing, adopted by Simon.
  • Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., and Cocking, R.R. (eds.) How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000. [An excellent book that summarizes the state of knowledge in educational literature].
  • Daniels, K. and Johnson, G. "On trees and triviality traps: Locating the debate on the contribution of cognitive mapping to organizational research," Organization Studies (23:1) 2002, pp 73-81.
  • Dorst, C.H. and Cross, N.G. "Creativity in the design process: co-evolution of problem–solution," Design Studies (22:5) 2001, pp 425-437.
  • Guindon, R. (1990) ‘Designing the design process: Exploiting opportunistic thoughts’, Human-Computer Interaction, No. 5
  • Lanzara, G.F. (1983) ‘The Design Process: Frames, Metaphors And Games’, in U. Briefs, C. Ciborra, L. Schneider (eds.) Systems Design For, With and By The Users, North-Holland Publishing Company
  • Maher, M.L. and Poon, J. "Modelling design exploration as co-evolution," Microcomputers in Civil Engineering (11:3) 1996, pp 195-210.
  • Simon, H.A. "The Structure of Ill-Structured Problems," Artificial Intelligence (4) 1973, pp 145-180.
  • Simon, H.A. "Scientific Discovery As Problem Solving; Peano Lecture," in: Economics Bounded Rationality and the Cognitive Revolution Edward Elgar Publishing Limited Aldershot UK, E. M and M. R. (eds.), Published in this form 1992, 1988.

Collaborative and distributed group processes of design, problem-solving and decision-making

  • Brown, J.S. and Duguid, P. "Borderline issues: Social and material aspects of design," Human-Computer Interaction (9:1) 1994, pp 3-36.
  • Boland, R.J., Tenkasi, R., V, and Te'eni, D. "Designing Information Technology to Support Distributed Cognition," Organization Science (5:3) 1994, pp 456-475.
  • Carlile, P.R. "A Pragmatic View of Knowledge and Boundaries: Boundary Objects in New Product Development," in: Organization Science, INFORMS: Institute for Operations Research, 2002, p. 442.
  • Ciborra, C.U. and Andreu, R. "Knowledge Across Boundaries: Managing Knowledge In Distributed Organizations," Working Paper #93, London School of Economics, UK.
  • Engestrom, Y. and Middleton, D. (eds.) Cognition and Communication at Work. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1998.
  • Espinosa, J.A., Kraut, R.E., Slaughter, S.A., Lerch, J.F., Herbsleb, J.D., and Mockus, A. "Shared Mental Models, Familiarity and Coordination: A Multi-Method Study of Distributed Software Teams," ICIS 2002, AIS, Barcelona, Spain, 2002.
  • Flor, N.V. and Hutchins, E.L. "Analyzing distributed cognition in software teams: a case study of team programming during perfective software maintenance," Empirical Studies of Programmers - Fourth Workshop Norwood NJ: Ablex, 1991, pp. 36-59.
  • Halverson, C.A. "Activity Theory and Distributed Cognition: Or What Does CSCW Need to DO with Theories?" Computer Supported Cooperative Work (11:1-2) 2002, pp 243-267.
  • Hollan, J., Hutchins, E., and Kirsh, D. "Distributed cognition: toward a new foundation for human-computer interaction research," ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) (7:2) 2002, pp 174 - 196.
  • Orlikowski, W.J. "Knowing in Practice: Enabling a Collective Capability in Distributed Organizing," Organization Science (13:3) 2002, pp 249-273.
  • Perry, M.J., Fruchter, R., and Rosenberg, D. "Coordinating Distributed Knowledge: A Study Into The Use Of An Organizational Memory," 2002.
  • Star, S.L. "Working together: Symbolic interactionism, activity theory and distributed artificial intelligence," in: Cognition and Communication at Work, Y. Engestrom and D. Middleton (eds.), Cambridge University Press, New York, 1998, pp. 296-318.
  • Star, S. L. (1989), ‘The Structure of Ill-Structured Solutions: Boundary Objects and Heterogeneous Distributed Problem Solving’, in L. Gasser and M. N. Huhns (eds.) Distributed Artificial Intelligence, Vol. II. San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers Inc., pp. 37-54. [This is the paper that originated the concept of a "boundary object" as a way of mediating collaboration in distributed work environments].
  • Star, S.L. "Cooperation without Consensus in Scientific Problem Solving: Dynamics of Closure in Open Systems," in: CSCW: Cooperation Or Conflict? S. Easterbrook (ed.), Springer-Verlag, London, 1993, pp. 93-105.
  • Walz, D., Elam, J. & Curtis, B. (1993) ‘Inside A Design Team: Knowledge Acquisition, Sharing and Integration’, Communications of the ACM, October 1993, Vol. 36, no. 10, pp 63- 77

Interaction Design

  • Agerfalk, P.J., and Eriksson, O. "Action-oriented conceptual modelling," European Journal of Information Systems (13:1) 2004, pp 80-92.
  • Dourish, P. Where The Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2001.
  • Engestrom, Y., and Middleton, D. (eds.) Cognition and Communication at Work. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1998.
  • Gasson, S. "A Genealogical Study Of Boundary-Spanning IS Design," European Journal of Information Systems (15:1) 2006, pp 26-41.
  • Goldkuhl, G. "Design Theories In Information Systems - A Need For Multi-Grounding," JITTA: Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application (6:2) 2004, pp 59-72.
  • Preece, J., Rogers, Y., and Sharp, H. Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction Wiley, New York, NY, 2002.
  • Winograd, T., and Flores, F. Understanding Computers And Cognition Ablex Corporation, Norwood New Jersey, 1986.
  • Winograd, T.A. "Designing a language for interactions," interactions (1:2) 1994, pp 7-9
  • Winograd, T.A. "From Computing Machinery to Interaction Design," in: Beyond Calculation: The Next Fifty Years of Computing, P. Denning and R. Metcalfe (eds.), Springer-Verlag, 1997, pp. 149-162

4. Other readings I have loved …or at least, those that changed my worldview!

These are the sorts of readings that change you from being an average researcher into an inspired researcher. Lots of these are “social science” readings, relating to the role and impact of technology, rather than specifically IS papers and books. What I love about IS is the cross-disciplinary nature of the “discipline”.

  • Bansler, J.P. & Bødker, K. (1993) ‘A Reappraisal of structured analysis: design in an organizational context’, ACM Transactions on Information Systems, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 165-193
  • Barley, S. (1990) ‘Images Of Imaging: Notes on Doing Longitudinal Field Work’, Organization Science, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp 220-247
  • Bjorn-Andersen, N. (1989) ‘Are ‘Human Factors’ Human?’ in H.K. Klein & K. Kumar (Eds.) Systems Development For Human Progress, Proceedings of IFIP WG8.2, Atlanta, Georgia, May 1987, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. (North Holland)
  • Boland, R. and Day, W.F. (1989), The experience of systems design: a hermeneutic of organisational action, Scandinavian Journal of Management, 5,2 87-104
  • Braverman, H. (1974) Labour And Monopoly Capital: The Degradation Of Work In The Twentieth Century, Monthly Review Press.
  • Brynjolfsson, E. (1993) ‘The Productivity Paradox Of Information Technology’, Communications Of The ACM, Vol. 36, No. 12, pp 67 - 77
  • Callon, M. (1991) ‘Techno-Economic Networks and Irreversibility’, in J. Law (Ed.) A Sociology of Monsters. Essays on Power, Technology and Domination, Routledge, London, UK
  • Curtis, B., Krasner, H. and Iscoe, N. (1988) ‘A Field Study Of The Software Design Process For Large Systems’, Communications of the ACM, Nov 1988, Vol 31, No 11, pp 1268-1287
  • Kling, R. & Scacchi, W. (1982) ‘The Web of Computing: Computer Technology as Social Organization’ in M.C. Yovits (Ed.) Advances In Computers, 21, Academic Press, New York, pp 1 - 90
  • Land, F. (1992) The Information Systems Domain, in Galliers, R. (Ed.) Information Systems Research, Blackwell Scientific
  • Markus, M.L. & Bjorn-Andersen, N. (1987) ‘Power over users: its exercise by system professionals’, Communications of the ACM, June 1987, Volume 30, Number 6
  • Norman, D.A. (1988) The Psychology of Everyday Things, Basic Books, Harper-Collins, USA (Previously published as: The Design of Everyday Things. 1990. New York: Doubleday)
  • Parnas, D.L. & Clements, J.C. (1986) ‘A Rational Design Process: How and Why To Fake It’, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, Vol. SE-12. No. 2, February 1986
  • Rosenbrock, H.H. (1981) ‘Engineers And The Work That People Do’, IEEE Control Systems Magazine, Vol 1, No.3 pp 4-8 September 1981. Reprinted in Paton et. al. (1984) Organisations: Cases, Issues and Concepts, Paul Chapman Publishing, London
  • Smircich, L. & Morgan, G. (1982) ‘Leadership: The management of meaning’, Journal of Applied Behavioural Science, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp 257-273
  • Walsham, G. (1993a) Interpreting Information Systems In Organizations, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK
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