Research in Information Systems Analysis and Design: Introduction to the Special Issue

Article excerpt


Information systems analysis and design (ISAD) arguably lies in the core of the Information Systems (IS) discipline. Although ISAD is central to the IS curriculum, it remains somewhat at the periphery of research in leading journals. A recent study (Vessey, Ramesh, and Glass 2002) showed that few of the articles published in five leading IS research journals from 1995 to 1999 deal with these topics. This special issue is the outcome of a special joint initiative between the Journal of the Association for Information Systems (JAIS) and the Communications of the Association for Information Systems (CAIS), with the purpose of beginning to fill this void and to attract the attention of researchers to this important area. The papers in this issue illustrate a range of ISAD topics - conceptual modeling, database design, and the role of knowledge management in systems development project performance.


Information systems analysis refers to a number of activities in the early stages of information systems development. The main purpose of systems analysis is to identify and document the requirements for an information system to support organizational activities. Information systems design refers to the process of defining the system architecture, components, modules, interfaces, and data for a software system to satisfy the requirements specified during systems analysis. A substantial part of system development failures can be attributed to problems that arise during systems analysis. Hence, understanding and improving systems analysis and design are central to the research mission of the Information Systems (IS) discipline.

Systems analysis and design are basic topics in the IS curriculum, and a large number of IS graduates become information systems analysts. However, research in the IS field pays relatively little attention to systems analysis and design. A recent study by Vessey, Ramesh, and Glass (2002) showed that few of the articles published in five leading IS journals from 1995 to 1999 dealt with these topics. Bajaj et al. (2005) identified the need for greater alignment between research and teaching in the area of information systems analysis and design. JAIS and CAIS have pursued this special joint theme with the purpose of attracting the attention of more researchers to the important area of systems analysis and design and alleviating the existing misalignment. This special issue of JAIS complements the December 2005 issue of CAIS (Iivari, Parsons, and Hevner 2005).

Developing the Special Theme

A proposal for the special theme was developed with close cooperation between JAIS and CAIS. Yair Wand and Alan Hevner acted as Senior Editors for JAIS and CAIS, respectively, and Juhani Iivari and Jeffrey Parsons acted as Guest Editors for both journals. The submission deadline for JAIS was March 1, 2005. Submissions were solicited via ISWORLD and SIGSAND-L (the listserve of the AIS Special Interest Group on Systems Analysis and Design). Authors had the opportunity to indicate whether their submissions were intended for either JAIS or CAIS; otherwise, assignments were made by the editors. The editors reserved the right to determine whether each submission was more appropriate for CAIS or JAIS.

Information systems analysis and design forms a rich research field. One can distinguish at least four dimensions within it:

1. ISAD activities and processes;

2. ISAD approaches, methods, techniques and tools;

3. Underlying theoretical basis of research;

4. Research methods used.

ISAD activities cover all analysis and design activities and processes included in IS development work. ISAD approaches, methods, techniques, and tools are artifacts developed to support the ISAD activities (Iivari et al., 2004). The underlying theoretical basis can be classified into theories for analysis and design (such as classifications and taxonomies), theories for explaining (such as grand social theories), theories for predicting (such as software cost estimation models), and theories for explaining and predicting (Gregor, 2006). …