Design Science Research

  • in short, it's science about design (building artifacts, testing them in the field, feedback loop) as a way to do research (instead of science about understanding the world)
  • looks like DSR originated with "The Sciences of the Artificial"

    Herbert Simon distinguished the natural sciences, concerned with explaining how things are, from design sciences which are concerned with how things ought to be

  • huh, Wicked Problems connection?

    Design science is particularly suitable for wicked problems

  • kinda related to Understanding Through Building:

    The design process is a sequence of expert activities that produces an innovative product. The artifact enables the researcher to get a better grasp of the problem; the re-evaluation of the problem improves the quality of the design process and so on. This build-and-evaluate loop is typically iterated a number of times before the final design artifact is generated

    • but, the field-testing part seems very important; with Understanding Through Building I only "test" with myself, or even less, use the process itself to "only" understand the problem better without any real use for the artifact

in the case of the DSR, the proposal is among others to start from problems that come from the field (relevance) and to attempt to provide an artifact (solution) and to rigorously develop what amounts to prescriptive knowledge, while meeting the standards and norms of scientific research (rigor)

Design science research in itself implies an ethical change from describing and explaining of the existing world to shaping it. The ethics of research concern the responsibility of a scientist for the consequences of his research and its results. Even though it may be questionable whether any research can be value-free, it is absolutely clear that design science research cannot be. Consequently, the basic values of research should be expressed as explicitly as possible. Adapting Chua (1986), Iivari (1991) distinguishes three potential roles for Information Systems as an applied discipline: 1) means-end oriented, 2) interpretive, and 3) critical. In the first case the scientist aims at providing means knowledge for achieving given ends (goals), without questioning the legitimacy of those ends. According to Chua (1986), the aim of an "interpretivist scientist is to enrich people's understanding of their action", "how social order is produced and reproduced" (p. 615). The goals (ends) of action are often not so clear, and one should also focus on unintended consequences. A critical scientist sees that research has "a critical imperative: the identification and removal of domination and ideological practice" (p. 622). Goals (ends) can be subjected to critical analysis.

— A paradigmatic analysis of information systems as a design science

Szymon Kaliski © 2022