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Journal Article

Looking at the Past to Enrich the Future: A Reflection on Klein and Myers’ Quality Criteria for Interpretive Research  pp77-88

Ana Cardoso, Isabel Ramos

© Dec 2012 Volume 10 Issue 2, ECRM, Editor: Ann Brown, pp53 - 153

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In the last two decades, interpretive research has become more established and more popular in information systems field. The work of Klein and Myers (1999) consists of a set of principles for conducting and evaluating interpretive research, which provide fair and appropriate criteria for assessing the validity and reliability of such studies and, given the number of citations, has had a significant impact in the interpretive research literature. Our article focuses on understanding how this set of principles has informed research articles published in two of the highest‑ranked information systems journals and, specifically, questions if these principles have been translated into common practices when conducting interpretive research in the field of information systems and whether authors incorporate them explicitly when they communicate the results of their research. We reviewed articles published in Management Information Systems Quarterly and Information Systems Research, collected any explicit or implicit evidence of quality criteria that informed the research, and highlighted direct or indirect reference to Klein and Myers criteria. We summarize and compare our findings in a comprehensive table, and note that, apparently, the principle of hermeneutic circle and the principle of suspicion are the most explicitly discussed in this sample. Moreover, Klein and Myers’ set of principles seem to have had a greater influence in the papers published in the period from 2002 to 2006. This study provides a reflexion about methodological rigor in interpretive research that, to our knowledge, had never been done. Thus, the findings here presented may be useful for junior researchers and doctorate level students to understand how validity and quality criteria are enacted in high‑quality interpretive research and, we hope, may encourage them to build on the exemplary work of the authors we reviewed and thus to contribute to enriching the literature of qualitative research methodology in information systems field.


Keywords: interpretive research evaluation, quality and rigor criteria, information systems, Klein & Myers’ set of principles, hermeneutics, phenomenology.


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