NOKOBIT - Norsk konferanse for organisasjoners bruk av informasjonsteknologi. 2016, 24 (1)
Qualitative research approaches are now well established in information systems research, and are given equal weight as quantitative research in research methods courses in graduate programs. Similar, the heated paradigm debate seems to largely have cooled off, with interpretivist research now being accepted as an alternative to positivism and other paradigms. However, from the authors’ experience with teaching qualitative methods and reviewing qualitative research work, we see a growing tendency among both students and more experienced researchers to view qualitative and interpretive research as synonyms. We argue that this to some extent is due to a lack of precision in how the interpretivist paradigm is introduced in method textbooks and resources, where the rhetoric is sometimes conflated so as to indicate that all research focusing on the social and contextual aspects of technology use is by default interpretivist. On this background, our mission with this paper is to highlight the key characteristics of interpretive research that distinguish this approach from ‘any qualitative study’. In this, we discuss core concepts and procedures related to interpretive data collection and analysis, including validation and generalizability. Finally, we present a set of guiding questions forming a checklist for whether the qualitative study conducted would qualify as interpretive research or not.