Designing Design Research


 Design Science Research (DSR) is a promising research paradigm that intends to generate knowledge on the design of innovative solutions to real-world problems. As such, DSR is specifically useful in contributing to the solution of societally and practically relevant challenges. At the same time, matured methodological foundations are available today, specifically supporting publishing DSR research both at conferences and top-tier journals.

This course gives an introduction to Design Science Research (DSR). It focuses on planning and conducting design science research on Ph.D. level. It is intended to provide state-of-the art methodological competences for all Ph.D. students in business whose research is not solely descriptive/explanatory, but also comprises components where artefacts are purposefully designed and evaluated.

While Design Science Research is very common in Information Systems research, purposeful artefact design and evaluation are found in many other business research fields like, e.g., General Management, Operations Management/Management Science, Accounting/Controlling, Business Education, or Marketing. Although Design Science is often conducted implicitly, the methodological discourse in the Information Systems has led to a high level of reflection and to the availability of a large number of reference publications and cases, so that examples and cases will often originate from this domain. It should however be noted that Design Science as a paradigm is applicable and is used in nearly all fields
of business research. As a consequence, this class is not only open to Information Systems students but students from various disciplines of management and computer science.


Open until May 12. Max 25 participants.


Prof. Dr. Jan vom Brocke, University of Liechtenstein, 

Prof. Dr. Robert Winter, University of St. Gallen,

Date and Location

OFFLINE: reading assignment preparation prior to May 20, 2021
ONLINE: lectures and discussions between May 20 – May 27, 2021
OFFLINE: group work between May 20 – May 27, 2021

Course Description

Learning Objectives

The goal of the course is to provide Ph.D. students with insights and capabilities that enable them to plan and conduct independent Design Science research. To achieve this goal, students will engage in a number of activities in preparation and during this four-day course, including preparatory readings, lectures, presentations, project work, and in-class discussions. The course format offers an interactive learning experience and the unique opportunity to obtain individualized feedback from leading IS researchers as well as develop preliminary research designs for their own Ph.D. projects.


The course comprises of both offline pre-class preparation as well as online course components, supplemented with offline-course components in group work.

Offline pre-class preparation:
All students are required to familiarize with three essential papers (see reading list below). Further, each student will prepare to present one paper on an essential aspect of Design Science in detail (see reading list below). Papers are grouped into packages, including (1) DSR as a paradigm, (2): DSR examples, (3) DSR process, (4) DSR artifacts, (5) Design theorizing.

Online course components:

(1) Introduction by faculty
(2) Presentation of reading assignments by students: Structured according to the packages, 5 participants will present a summary of their assigned paper in 6 minutes – followed by a 30 minute joint discussion of the respective paper package
(3) Faculty-coached definition of design projects, design of research plans, presentation and discussion of research plans. There will be 5 groups, each with a maximum of 5 participants, which will be pre-assigned based on submission of research interest / PhD thesis topic.
(4) Final presentations, reflection and closing

 Depending on the maturity level of Ph.D. students dissertation projects, design projects could be the design component of their dissertation or a specific sub-project/paper of their dissertation.

Between the in-class online components, group design projects are developed and extended / revised in offline course components.


Online Schedule 


9-10 Welcome
10-12 Introduction 
14-15 Deep Example 
15:30-16:30 Selected Topics & Group Work Kickoff


13-15 Paper Panels   (Packages 1-2)
15:30-18:30 (Packages 3-5)


14-17 Project Walkthroughs 


14-17 Final Presentations
17-18 Closing & Follow-ups

Preparation and Literature


The course is intended for Ph.D. students in business whose dissertation project includes to purposefully design and evaluate an artefact – such as a conceptual model, a taxonomy/classification, a procedure/process, metrics, an information model, guidelines/principles, a reference architectures, etc. Students should have a preliminary idea about their design research problem and research questions, about who the stakeholders of their artefact(s) are and what requirements they have, and about their sources of data.

Essential or Reading Material

Mandatory Reading
All participants are expected to get familiar with the following articles:
1) Hevner AR, March ST, Park J, Ram S. (2004) Design Science in Information Systems Research. MIS Quarterly 28(1):75–105.

 2) Peffers K, Tuunanen T, Rothenberger MA, Chatterjee S. (2007) A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research. Journal of Management Information Systems 24(3):45–77.

3) vom Brocke, J., Hevner, A., Maedche, A. (2020). Introduction to Design Science Research. In: J. vom Brocke, A. Hevner & A. Maedche (Eds.), Design Science Research Cases (pp. 1-13): Springer International Publishing

Reading Assignments

From the following packages, each participant will prepare a 6-minute presentation of one of the papers. 

Package 1: DSR as a paradigm

1) Winter R (2008) Design Science Research in Europe. European Journal of Information Systems 17(5), 470-475.
2) Gregor S and Hevner AR (2013) Positioning and Presenting Design Science Research for Maximum Impact. MIS Quarterly 37(2), 337-55.
3) March ST and Smith GF (1995) Design and Natural Science Research on Information Technology. Decision Support Systems 15(4), 251-266.
4) Walls, J. G., et al. (1992). Building an Information System Design Theory for Vigilant EIS. Information Systems Research 3(1): 36-59.
5) vom Brocke, J., Maedche, A. (2019), The DSR Grid: Six Core Dimensions for Effectively Planning and Communicating Design Science Research Projects, in: Electronic Markets, 29(3), pp 379–385

Package 2: DSR examples 

6) Baskerville, R. & Vaishnavi, V. (2020), "A Novel Approach to Collectively Determine Cybersecurity Performance Benchmark Data," Progress in IS, in: Jan vom Brocke & Alan Hevner & Alexander Maedche (ed.), Design Science Research. Cases, pages 17-41, Springer.
7) Winter, R., Aier, S. (2020), Designing Evolution Paths for Enterprise-wide Information Systems. In vom Brocke, Jan; Hevner, Alan R. & Mädche, Alexander (ed.): Design Science Research. Cases. Springer Nature, 2020, S. 75-104.
8) Lukyanenko, R., Parsons, J. (2020), "Easier Crowdsourcing Is Better: Designing Crowdsourcing Systems to Increase Information Quality and User Participation," Progress in IS, in: Jan vom Brocke & Alan Hevner & Alexander Maedche (ed.), Design Science Research. Cases, pages 43-72, Springer.
9) Gregor, S., Imran, A., Turner, T (2020), "e-Government Capacity Building in Bangladesh: An Action Design Research Program," Progress in IS, in: Jan vom Brocke & Alan Hevner & Alexander Maedche (ed.), Design Science Research. Cases, pages 319-334, Springer.
10) Purao, S., Karunakaran, A. (2020). "Designing Platforms to Support Knowledge-Intensive Organizational Work," Progress in IS, in: Jan vom Brocke & Alan Hevner & Alexander Maedche
(ed.), Design Science Research. Cases, pages 207-227, Springer.

Package 3: DSR process

1) Maedche, A., et al. (2019). Conceptualization of the Problem Space in Design Science Research. Extending the Boundaries of Design Science Theory and Practice (Proc. DESRIST 2019). T. B., D. S. and L. G. Cham, Springer: 18–31.
2) vom Brocke, J., et al. (2015). Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Challenges and Recommendations of Literature Search in Information Systems Research, Communications of the AIS, 37
3) Sein MK, Henfridsson O, Purao S, Rossi M, Lindgren R (2011) Action design research, MIS quarterly 35(1), 37-56.
4) Sonnenberg C and vom Brocke J (2012). Evaluations in the Science of the Artificial - Reconsidering the Build-Evaluate Pattern in Design Science Research. In Peffers K, Rothenberger M & Kuechler B (Eds.), Design Science Research in Information Systems. Advances in Theory and Practice. Proceedings of the 7th DESRIST Conference, Springer LNCS Vol. 7286, 381-397
5) Venable J, Pries-Heje J and Baskerville RL (2016) FEDS: a framework for evaluation in design science research. European Journal of Information Systems 25(1), 77-89.

Package 4: DSR artifacts

1) Nickerson R, Varshney U and Muntermann J (2013) A method for taxonomy development and its application in information systems, European Journal of Informatino Systems 22, 336.
2) vom Brocke J, Braccini A, Sonnenberg C and Spagnoletti P (2014) Living IT Infrastructures - An Ontology-based Approach to Aligning IT Infrastructure Capacity and Business Needs. International Journal of Accounting Information Systems 15(3), 246-274
3) vom Brocke J (2007): Design Principles for Reference Models. Reusing Information Models by Aggregation, Specialisation, Instantiation, and Analogy. In: Reference Modeling for Business Systems Analysis, Editors: P. Fettke and P. Loos, Hershey PA: 47-75
4) van Aken JE (2004) Management Research Based on the Paradigm of the Design Sciences: The Quest for Field-Tested and Grounded Technological Rules. Journal of Management Studies 41(2):219-46.
5) Aier, S and Winter R (2009). Virtual Decoupling for IT/Business Alignment – Conceptual Foundations, Architecture Design and Implementation Example. Business & Information Systems Engineering 1(2): 150–163.

Package 5: Design theorizing 

1) Baskerville, R.; Pries-Heje, J.: Explanatory Design Theory, in: Business & Information Systems Engineering, 2, 5, 2010, pp. 271-282.
2) Gregor S and Jones D (2007) The Anatomy of a Design Theory. Journal Of The Association For Information Systems 8(5), 312-335.
3) Gregor, S., et al. (2020). "The Anatomy of a Design Principle." Journal Of The Association For Information Systems Forthcoming.
4) Venable JR (2006) The Role of Theory and Theorising in Design Science Research. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technologies (DESRIST), Claremont, CA.
5) vom Brocke, J., Winter, R., Hevner, A., Maedche, A. (2020), Accumulation and Evolution of Design Knowledge in Design Science Research – A Journey Through Time and Space, in: Journals of the Association for Information Systems (JAIS), 2020, 21(3), 520-544

To prepare

Each student is expected to

  • Read and familiarize with the three mandatory papers.
  • Prepare a 6-minute concise presentation on one of the papers in the five packages

Each student is expected to, usually in a group, actively elaborate a design research mini-project according to certain presented criteria. For this design project, a walkthrough and a final presentation (max 15 minutes, focus on motivation and problem analysis, research design including evaluation, and expected contributions to the scientific knowledge base) need to be prepared in class.

All students need to participate in all classroom discussions. Good participation includes asking insightful questions, raising original ideas, and making constructive comments.



Doctoral students participating in the seminar can obtain 3 credit points. This requires participating on all sessions and completing the assignments.

Working Hours 
Preparatory assignments (general reading, specific reading assignment & preparation of presentation) 37 h
Participation in class 18 h
Preparation for final presentation topics 10 h
Group & individual work for final presentation 25 h


Registration fee

This seminar is free-of-charge for member organization's staff and their PhD students. For others the participation fee is 400 €. The participation fee includes access to the event and the event materials.