IS 541: Theories and Methods in Information Systems

This course provides students with an introduction to scientific research methods and theories in the field of information systems. Master students gain a broad overview of the strengths and weaknesses of different methods and theoretical perspectives. This overview prepares them for conducting own, bounded research projects (e.g., master theses) as a first step towards a scientific career. In this course, students come to understand the importance of theory for organizing and cumulating knowledge as well as the importance of rigorous empirical methods to establish the validity of findings. The course covers publications in premier IS journals to exemplify and discuss procedures of qualitative, quantitative, and design-oriented research. The course is taught in a seminar style, requiring students to prepare readings for discussions in class. Attendance in classroom sessions is mandatory. Students are required to prepare textbook chapters and selected readings on IS research in advance of the course. A list of required readings is distributed after registration. In addition, students are assigned contemporary articles published in IS journals that must be evaluated based on the topics covered in the course and presented during classroom sessions. Each student finally writes a term paper of four to five pages on an assigned topic.

Learning outcomes
After completing the course, students

  • are able to prepare, plan, and execute own research endeavors (e.g., master thesis).
  • understand the relevance of methods and theories in meaningful research.
  • know quality criteria and corresponding means to improve research designs.
  • have gained an overview of most common methods and theories in IS research.

Necessary prerequisites

Recommended prerequisites
Basic statistical knowledge recommended

Forms of teaching and learningContact hoursIndependent study time
Lecture2 SWS15 SWS
ECTS credits6
Graded yes
Form of assessmentPresentation (30%), written term paper (70%, ten p.)
Restricted admissionyes
Further information
Performing lecturer
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Höhle
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Höhle
Frequency of offeringSpring semester
Duration of module 1 semester
Range of applicationM.Sc. MMM, M.Sc. WiPäd, M.Sc. VWL, M.Sc. Wirt. Inf.
Preliminary course work
Program-specific Competency GoalsCG 1, CG 4
LiteratureA reading list including relevant literature will be provided in the course.
Course outlineThe course covers the following topics. For each of the topics foundational and illustrative readings are discussed.
  • Science and Scientific Research
  • Theory and Theory Building
  • Research Design
  • Case Study Research
  • Survey Research
  • Survey Research: Data Collection and Analysis
  • Experiments
  • Design Science Research