Not available in 2013/14
IS593      Half Unit
Qualitative Research Methods in Information Systems

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Susan Scott NAB3.12


Students must have completed IS492.

Course content

The course will introduce students to concepts and techniques associated with designing and conducting and/or evaluating empirical research of predominantly qualitative character. The course deals with case study and ethnographic research in the fields of Information Systems and Organization Studies and focuses on issues of research design, data collection and interpretation methods. Case study design involves the consideration of conditions (research questions, available research, theory formation in the field studied, data access and availability) on the basis of which decisions concerning research design are made. Single and multiple case study research designs are considered in the course and the advantages and limitations of these alternative designs are examined. Furthermore ethnography is considered as an alternative option of research design due to its holistic, intensive and longitudinal participation in the institutional settings within which it takes place. The course primarily focuses on data collection and interpretation methods in the fields of Information Systems and Organizations Studies. Observations, interview methods and techniques, archival and documentary data, experiments are considered and issues of validity, reliability cross-checking and triangulation of data obtained through different data collection techniques are examined.


20 hours of lectures and 9 hours of seminars in the LT.

Ten weekly two-hour lectures and nine one-hour classes in the second half of the course preparing the students for the writing of their course essay.

Formative coursework

Research question exercise (3000 words) due by 4pm, Wednesday, week 7. MT. This exercise is un-assessed, but compulsory. It provides an opportunity for feedback and contributes to the development of the assessed research design report coursework for IS493. Research design essay (6000 words) due by 4pm, Thursday, week 8. LT. This essay presents a hypothetical qualitative research design, i.e. a plan for a scholarly study. This exercise encourages students to explore the conceptual and practical consequences associated with designing a research question (including fieldwork design). This essay is assessed.

Indicative reading

Eisenhardt, K. (1989), Building Theories from Case Study Research, Academy of Management Review, 14/4: 532-550; Golden-Biddle, K and Locke, K.D. (1997) Composing Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, Sage; Harvey, L. and Myers, M.D. (1995/2002), Scholarship and Research: The Contribution of Ethnography to Bridging the Gap, Information Technology and People, 8/3: 13-27; Kunda, G. Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation, 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA, Temple University Press; Miles, M. and Huberman, M. (1994), Qualitative Data Analysis, London: Sage; Myers, M.D. & Avison, D. (eds.) (2002), Qualitative Research in Information Systems, London: Sage; Orlikowski, W. & Baroudi, J. (1991), Studying Information Technology in Organizations: Research Approaches and Assumptions, Information Systems Research, 2/1: 1-28; Silverman, D, (2005) Doing Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage; Yin, R. (2003), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, London: Sage


Essay (100%, 6000 words) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Information Systems and Innovation Group

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information