Writing, Arguing, Contributing - A Cogent Argumentation Framework for Identifying, Specifying, and Evaluating Research Contribution

  • Sebastian K. Boell Business Information Systems The University of Sydney
  • Dirk S. Hovorka Business Information Systems The University of Sydney
Keywords: argument, argumentation, cogency, research contribution, contribution, Information Systems, Toulmin, Kuhn, publication


The predominant means by which research becomes visible and accessible to the research community is through publication. Generally, publication requires careful framing of the research in relation to existing knowledge. As a contribution to knowledge cannot be self-evident, authors must persuade, through argumentation, the editors, reviewers, and the research community that their work offers a contribution. In Information Systems, the discussion of argumentation is often limited to the logic dimensions of argumentation, namely deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning. In this paper, we demonstrate that argumentation requires the consideration of three additional dimensions of argumentation: rhetoric, dialectic, and social-institutional. Kuhn’s concept of the disciplinary matrix is introduced as the background toward which a cogent argument is directed and against which contribution is evaluated. We then illustrate the role of argumentation through the example of the seminal paper by Orlikowski and Iacono on the role of IT in Information Systems research. Understanding the importance of argumentation in framing one’s research contribution is critical to authors, editors, and reviewers alike within and beyond Information Systems and its reference disciplines.

Author Biographies

Sebastian K. Boell, Business Information Systems The University of Sydney

Dr. Sebastian Boell investigates the long term concequence of organizational information and communication technologies (ICT). Dr. Boell's transdisciplinary research received several awards including Best Conference Theme Paper at the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) as well as the ASIST ProQuest Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013. Dr. Boell publishes in leading international journals including: Journal of Information Technology (JIT), Information and Organisation (I&O), Organization, New Technology Work and Employment (NTWE), or the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST).

Dirk S. Hovorka, Business Information Systems The University of Sydney

Dirk S. Hovorka is an Associate Professor in Business Information Systems Discipline at the University of Sydney. His current research seeks to recenter the possible livable worlds which scientific practices bring forth through theory, design practices, and how we think about ‘the future’ in terms of technology, society, and biophysical environments. His research interrogation of the philosophical foundations of Information Systems has been informed by his research Information Systems PhD and Interdisciplinary Telecommunications and Geology MS degrees (University of Colorado, USA). As the recipient of prestigious awards including the Beta Gamma Sigma 2018 Professor of the Year Award (AACSB International Honor Society) and the University of Sydney Wayne Lonergan Award for Outstanding Teaching, Dirk is deeply committed to preparing students for challenges of the future(s) they are entering. Dirk co-authored the AIS 2011 Best Paper "Secondary Design: A Case of Behavioral Design Research". He is a JAIS Senior Editor, a CAIS Associate Editor, and HICSS co-chair of the "Knowing What We Know (Theories in IS)" mini-track.

How to Cite
Boell, S. K., & Hovorka, D. S. (2019). Writing, Arguing, Contributing - A Cogent Argumentation Framework for Identifying, Specifying, and Evaluating Research Contribution. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 23. https://doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v23i0.1857
Selected Papers from the Australasian Conference on Information Systems (ACIS)