Department of Informatics

Lund University School of Economics and Management

Research in Information Systems and Informatics


The course is given in collaboration between Uppsala University and Lund University.

It is a mandatory course on the PhD programme in Informatics and to PhD students within the Research School Management and IT (MIT) and it is offered to external PhD students.

The course is given on campus and requires attendance on seminars in Visby, Uppsala and Lund.

Course description

The course focuses on how different approaches, methodologies, and methods can be used in information systems research and introduces the students to the scholarly literature in information systems. The course provides the students with an overview of key areas in information systems research, and how different approaches methodologies, and methods are used. The course also supports the students in their development of a scholarly understanding of the fundamental issues and problems in theory building, theory testing, and theory use in information systems research.

Course background

The academic discipline of information systems is defined as the study of “the effective design, delivery, use and impact of information [and communication] technologies in organizations and society.” (Avison & Fitzgerald, 2003). The international academic discipline of information systems was founded in the 1960s under the label of management information systems and is continuously emerging along with the development of information technology (Hirschheim & Klein, 2012). The discipline employs a diversity of methodological approaches to empirical research, as well as theories and models, which can be developed within the discipline, but also adapted from reference disciplines. The discipline of information systems is in a Swedish context also called informatics.

This PhD course includes classic articles covering the historical development of information systems as a discipline, the use of theories within the discipline and the use of research approaches in information systems.

Course content

The course will be structured around main themes in the literature. These include the following:

  • The characteristics of international academic information systems research
  • The historical evolution of information systems research
  • Theories frequently used in information systems research
  • Theory testing and theory building in information systems research
  • Rigor and relevance
  • Qualitative approaches, methodologies and methods within information systems research
  • Selecting and combining different approaches, methodologies and methods
  • Social science and engaged scholarship

Course design

The course will take place over eight course days organized as two-day seminars, held about one month apart. The first three two-day sessions focus on a specific theme:

  • Towards an understanding of information systems research (theme I).
  • Use of theories, theory building, and theory testing in information systems research (theme II).
  • Information systems research approaches and methodologies (theme III).

The course participants are expected to read the articles listed for each theme before the seminars in order to be prepared to present and discuss the contents of the article. During theme II, the course participants are expected to present one frequently used theory in information systems research based on seminal articles of that theory.

The course will end with a seminar where publishable papers based on the content of the course are presented and discussed. 


Assessment will be done along several dimensions corresponding to the deliverables of the course. This includes the following:

  • Active participation in the discussions and presentations of the four course seminars.
  • The writing of three position papers of three pages (single-authored) each representing the three themes of the course.
  • The writing and presentation of a publishable article of at least six pages (single-authored or co-authored) based on the course themes as well as an opposition on another PhD candidates’ similar article.

Course director LU

Christina Keller
Professor, director of third cycle studies
Phone: +46 46 222 80 24
Room: EC2-259

Christina Keller

Course director UU

Pär Ågerfalk
Professor at Department of Informatics and Media, Uppsala university

Course administrator UU

Golondrian Janke
Administrator at Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University

Additional information

Course syllabus

Course literature

Course page at Uppsala University including schedule

Doctoral level (Third cycle)
Teaching language: English
Offered: Spring
Teaching: On campus – the course requires attendance on seminars in Visby, Uppsala and Lund.

Application & Admission

The admission is managed by Uppsala University. Contact the course administrator Golondrian Janke for instructions.