Probably the greatest challenge of a part-time education is that two significant activities must be managed simultaneously: high-quality work on the job, on one hand, and the production of a substantial academic thesis, on the other. While there are some challenges to overcome in an in-service doctoral program, there are also numerous opportunities to take advantage of. For students, the successful completion of their projects requires the right framework conditions and the flexibility of all involved—in addition to enthusiasm for their topic and the joy of scientific work.

Design Science Research (DSR) is a broad research paradigm that aims to generate design knowledge. It is a research method that aims to seek and develop solutions to practical problems by combining rigor and practical relevance. To this end, innovative artifacts are created that expand human knowledge through systematic design and critical evaluation. To identify previously developed artifacts that contribute to the solution of the problem or to the development of new artifacts, a systematic literature review should be conducted at the beginning of each research project. This helps students to get an overview of the enormous number of readings, journals, and books and filter out literature relevant to their topic.

DSR aims to generate prescriptive knowledge about the design of artifacts, such as software, methods, models, or concepts. This design knowledge helps researchers and practitioners to design artifacts systematically and scientifically in future projects. This design and appli- cation can, in turn, generate design-oriented knowledge that can be applied concretely.

In order to contribute to both the theory and practice of solving real-world problems, not only do novel solutions (artifacts) need to be designed, but their broad impact on the application domain needs to also be demonstrated. This is to demonstrate the so-called rigor and relevance of DSR research. DSR thus seeks to generate knowledge on how to effectively design and deploy novel solutions to relevant problems. The knowledge that is generated must include information about the solution, but also evidence that shows how well the novel solution addresses the problem. Thus, it should show how the solution can be used effectively in the real world to satisfy the stakeholders of the problem.

This knowledge covers three fundamental aspects in DSR: the problem space, the solution space, and the knowledge that describes the effectiveness of the problem solution through the generated artifact(s).

This third aspect is called the evaluation. The evaluation describes the extent to which the constructed novel artifacts (solution space) address the problem space and satisfy the stakeholders implicated in the problem.

If one also takes advantage of the opportunities offered by a part-time doctorate, the work done is doubly worthwhile. In this context, DSR offers enormous opportunities as a practice-oriented research method.

This article originally appeared on page 10 of ISM's 2022 annual newsletter.

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