Peffers et al. (2008) A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research

Peffers, Ken and Tuunanen, Tuure and Rothenberger, Marcus A. and Chatterjee, Samir


The paper motivates, presents, demonstrates in use, and evaluates a methodology for conducting design science (DS) research in information systems. DS is of importance in a discipline oriented to the creation of successful artifacts. Several IS researchers have pioneered DS research in IS, yet over the last 15 years little DS research has been done within the discipline. The lack of a methodology to serve as a commonly accepted framework for DS research and of a template for its presentation may have contributed to its slow adoption. The design science research methodology (DSRM) presented here incorporates principles, practices, and procedures required to carry out such research and meets three objectives: it is consistent with prior literature, it provides a nominal process model for doing DS research, and it provides a mental model for presenting and evaluating DS research in IS. The DS process includes six steps: problem identification and motivation, definition of the objectives for a solution, design and development, demonstration, evaluation, and communication. We demonstrate and evaluate the methodology by presenting four case studies in terms of the DSRM, including cases that present the design of a database to support health assessment methods, a software reuse measure, an Internet video telephony application, and an IS planning method. The designed methodology effectively satisfies the three objectives and has the potential to help aid the acceptance of DS research in the IS discipline.

Citation Ken Peffers, Tuure Tuunanen, Marcus A. Rothenberger, Samir Chatterjee (2008). A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research. Journal of Management Information Systems, vol. 24 no. 3, pp. 45–77. URL

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

author = {Peffers, Ken and Tuunanen, Tuure and Rothenberger, Marcus A. and Chatterjee, Samir},
doi = {10.2753/MIS0742-1222240302},
issn = {0742-1222},
journal = {Journal of Management Information Systems},
number = {3},
pages = {45--77},
pmid = {28843849},
title = {{A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research}},
url = {\n},
volume = {24},
year = {2008}

Key ideas

DS ~ Design Science
DSRM ~ Design Science Research Methodology

The DSRM presented here incorporates:

  1. Principles;
  2. Practices;
  3. and procedures required to carry out such research.

It meets three objectives:

  1. It is consistent with prior literature;
  2. It provides a nominal process model for doing DS research;
  3. It provides a mental model for presenting and evaluating DS research in IS.

The DS process includes six steps:

  1. Problem identification and motivation;
  2. Definition of the objectives for a solution;
  3. Design and development;
  4. Demonstration;
  5. Evaluation;
  6. Communication.

We demonstrate and evaluate the methodology by presenting four case studies:

  1. Design of a database to support health assessment methods;
  2. A software reuse measure;
  3. An Internet video telephony application;
  4. An IS planning method.



Information Systems is an applied research discipline, in the sense that we frequently apply theory from other disciplines, such as economics, computer science, and the social sciences, to solve problems at the intersection of information technology and organizations. (p. 46)

In recent years, several researchers succeeded in bringing design research into the IS research community, successfully making the case for the validity and value of design science (DS) as an IS research paradigm (p. 47)

Every researcher trained in the culture of social science research has mental models for empirical and theory building research that allow the researcher to recognize and evaluate such work, and perhaps one for interpretive research as well. (p. 47)

Problem Identification: Completing a DSRM for IS Research

WHEN IS RESEARCHERS STARTED TO DEVELOP an interest in DS research in the early 1990s, there already was agreement in prior research about the basic difference between DS and other paradigms, such as theory building and testing, and interpretive research (p. 48)

Three papers from the early 1990s introduced DS research to the IS community: (p. 48)

  • Nunamaker et al. advocated the integration of system development into the research process
  • Walls et al. defined IS design theory as a class of research that would stand as an equal with traditional social science–based theory building and testing
  • March and Smith pointed out that design research could contribute to the applicability of IS research by facilitating

its application to better address the kinds of problems faced by IS practitioners.

Walls et al. observed that this rush to publish DS research did not occur and that the DS research paradigm had only occasionally been used explicitly in the past ten years. (p. 48)

Towards a DSRM

Principles: DS Research Defined

1) With just a decade and a half of history, DS research in IS may still be evolving; however, we now have a reasonably sound idea about what it is. Design science … creates and evaluates IT artifacts intended to solve identified organizational problems (p. 49)

Practice Rules for DS Research

Procedures: A Process Model and Mental Model for Research Outputs

Defining Objectives of a Solution: Process and Mental Models Consistent with Prior Research

A Nominal Process

Building on Prior Research

A Mental Model

A mental model is a small-scale [model] of reality … [that] can be constructed from perception, imagination, or the comprehension of discourse. (p. 58)

Design: Development of the Methodology

  • Activity 1: Problem identification and motivation.
  • Activity 2: Define the objectives for a solution.
  • Activity 3: Design and development.
  • Activity 4: Demonstration.
  • Activity 5: Evaluation.
  • Activity 6. Communication.

Demonstration in Four Case Studies

  • Case 1: The CATCH Data Warehouse for Health Status Assessments
  • Case 2: A Software Reuse Measure Developed at MBA Technologies
  • Case 3: SIP-Based Voice- and Video-Over IP Software
  • Case 4: Developing a Method at Digia to Generate Ideas for New Applications That Customers Value

Evaluation of the DSRM Process


Researchers have raised questions about similarities between DS and action research. (p. 71 )

DS research comes from a history of design as a component of engineering and computer science research, while action research originates from the concept of the researcher as an “active participant” in solving practical problems in the course of studying them in organizational contexts. (p. 72 )

In DS research, design and the proof of its usefulness is the central component, whereas in action research, the focus of interest is the organizational context and the active search for problem solutions therein. (p. 72 )

The DSRM is intended as a methodology for research; however, one might wonder whether it might also be used as a methodology for design in practice. There would appear to be no reason it could not be so used; however, there are elements of the DSRM that are intended to support essential DS research characteristics that might not always apply well to design in practice. (p. 72)

Results of the analysis of the four cases show that they are all instances of DS research that can be well framed in terms of the DSRM. (p. 73)

The DSRM completes a DS research paradigm with a methodology that is consistent with the DS research processes employed in the IS discipline, in this way establishing a common framework for future researchers to validate DS research, without making ad hoc arguments for its validity. (p. 73)


We should emphasize that this paper represents one general methodological guideline for effective DS research. Researchers should by no means draw any inference that the DSRM is the only appropriate methodology with which to conduct such research. (p. 74)

Tables and figures

Figure 1: DSRM Process Model Figure 1 ~ p. 54

Figure 2: DSRM Process for the CATCH Project Figure 2 ~ p. 58

Figure 3: DSRM Process for the MBA Technology Study Figure 3 ~ p. 61


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