Is Information Systems a Science? An Inquiry into the Nature of the Information Systems Discipline

Deepak Khazanchi, Bjørn Erik Munkvold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The information systems (iS) discipline is apparently undergoing an identity crisis. Academicians question the need for iS departments in colleges, stating the absence of a core for the field and its integration within other business functions as a basis for its elimination. At the same time, many practitioners, as reflected in the U.S. government's recent IT labor shortage report, continue to ignore IS as a distinct field of study. This article briefly outlines these and other challenges and argues that notwithstanding underlying philosophical differences, it can be concluded that IS is an emerging scientific discipline. This conclusion is reached through an assessment of the debate surrounding the issue of whether IS should be a discipline and an analysis of the IS discipline using some key characteristics of “science.” The arguments put forth in this paper have four key implications for the IS community: a continuing emphasis on adopting scientific principles and practices for conducting inquiry into IS phenomena; an enhancement of the self-concept of IS academics and professionals through a common identity; it enhances the ability of supporters of the IS field to defend against criticisms, integration with other disciplines, and resource rivalry; and it creates the potential of being well-situated to building a cumulative tradition in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-42
Number of pages19
JournalData Base for Advances in Information Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2000


  • Characteristics of scientific fields
  • Information systems discipline
  • Philosophy of science
  • Scientific inquiry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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