Research and practice in IS: insights from medicine that might contribute to overcoming the relevance deficit in the IS domain
Keywords:research, practice, medicine, relevance
During the ICIS 2018 conference, in San Francisco, two interesting panels addressed themes related to the recurrent debate within the IS domain about the relevance of IS research. One panel - Seeking Public Intellectuals in the Information Systems Discipline: Towards an Impact and Engagement Agenda - discussed the influence (or lack of) of the IS research community on public policies and on public opinion in what concerns problems that affect the society. The other panel - the Senior Scholar Panel - focused on the relationship between IS research and IS professional practice. The perception, by IS academics, that IS research is of little relevance for IS practitioners was addressed once more. These are two different dimensions of the relevance of IS research. Both are important to a pivotal domain in the modern society that creates scholarly knowledge crucial to understanding, influencing and leading the transformations that society is undergoing. Those dimensions are also critical if IS seeks to become a “vibrant, socially relevant and influential” domain as recently mentioned by Hassam and Mathiassen . This article focuses on the relationship between IS research and IS professional practice. I share the view of those that consider that the IS domain encompasses both, an academic facet and a practical facet. The two facets are interdependent and demand forms of collaboration between academics and practitioners that are only perceptible within an overarching view of scientific knowledge and of its production and use. This article aims at proposing such a view. A main feature of the proposed view is that it involves distinguishing among different types of scientific knowledge and different modes of doing research. In particular, it involves emphasizing a form of research that is overlooked in IS - clinical research. Insights from the medicine domain are used to illustrate the place of clinical research and its role in connecting researchers and practitioners.