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Truth or Dare: The Ontology Question in Design Science Research

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TitleTruth or Dare: The Ontology Question in Design Science Research
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsPurao, S
JournalJournal of Database Management
KeywordsDesign Research, Ontology

This essay investigates the ontology question in design science research. Writings on the philosophy of science do not fully address this concern for design science research because of the traditional emphasis on discovering truthful laws. In contrast, design science research dares to create novel IT artifacts with a view to realizing alternative futures. Taking this into account, I articulate fundamental world-views for the canonical form of design science research, which involves instantiation of the outcomes as a software artifact. These world-views include an ontological basis and an epistemological stance that are the foundation of design science research practice. My derivation of these world-views reflects shifts in the researcher’s stance through the research process, and the interconnectedness of the problem and the artifact. I discuss implications of these proposed world-views including comparisons against other research traditions, greater clarity for design research practice, and the potential for extending the analysis to other strands of design science research.

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