Design Science is a problem-solving approach, which has its origin in the engineering disciplines. This method creates innovative ideas, practices, technical abilities, and products (design artifacts) that make the analysis, design, implementation, management, and the usage of information systems more effective and more efficient. The creation of these design artifacts underlies existing core theories. The researcher applies, tests, modifies, and extends these theories using his or her creativity, experience, intuition, and problem-solving skills. (Hevner 2004)
In short: Design Science is a method, which makes it possible to create an artifact based on scientific and practical criteria.
Hevner (2007) divides design science into three cycles.
The scientific (Rigor) cycle derives knowledge from theory. The practical (Relevance) cycle, incorporates the state of the art. The linking cycle derives an artifact from theory and practice. In the evaluative cycle, the researcher iteratively improves the artifact from knowledge gained from theory and practice. In summary, the artifact provides a contribution to scientific and practical knowledge in the form of an axiom. Such an artifact is finite.
The goal of Design Science is to create and evaluate design artifacts to solve organizational problems. Artifacts can be represented in the form of mathematical models, software, or even informal descriptions. They are divided into four categories: Constructs, models, methods, and instantiations.
Design Science consists of two processes: "Build" and "Evaluate". Within the "Build" process, we perform activities that produce the design artifact. Then, the "Evaluate" process assesses the design artifact and adds feedback information, resulting in a better understanding of the problem. This improves the quality of the design process and the design artifact. To create the final design artifact, this "build-and-evaluate loop" is repeated several times.
Guidelines to consider during the processes are:
- "Design as a goal-directed artifact",
- "Problem Relevance."
- "Contribution to research",
- "Stringency in research methods",
- "design as a search process" and
- "Dissemination of research results."
"Design as a goal-directed artifact" produces a feasible artifact in the form of a construct, model, method, or instantiation.
"Problem relevance" develops a technology-based solution to business problems with relevance.
"Evaluation" uses evaluation methods to show the utility, quality, and effect of the artifact.
The "Contribution to Research" is made by Design Science through verifiable contributions to the areas of: Design Artifact, Design Fundamentals, and/or Design Methods.
"Methodological rigor in research methods" is based on the application of Design Science. One requires rigor in methods in the construction and evaluation of the design artifact.
The "Design as a Search Process" is used to achieve the goal. In which the available means are used in the search for an artifact. It is equally important to consider the laws in the surrounding problem framework.
In the method of Design Science, the transfer of researched knowledge is done to technology and management oriented addressees.
Hevner (2007, p. 87) describes the three cycles as follows:
"The Relevance Cycle inputs requirements from the contextual environment into the research and introduces the research artifacts into environmental field testing.
The Rigor Cycle provides grounding theories and methods along with domain experience and expertise from the foundations knowledge base into the research and adds the new knowledge generated by the research to the growing knowledge base.
The central Design Cycle supports a tighter loop of research activity for the construction and evaluation of design artifacts and processes."
- Hevner, A.R.; March, S.T.; Park, J.; Ram, S. (2004): Design Science in Information Systems Research. In: MIS Quarterly, Vol. 28 (2004) No. 1, pp. 75-105.
- Hevner, A.R. (2007): A Three Cycle View of Design Science Research. In: Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 19 (2007) No. 2, pp. 87-92.
- Gregor, S.; Hevner, A.R. (2013): Positioning and Presenting Design Science Research for Maximum Impact. In: MIS Quarterly, Vol. 37 (2013) No. 2, pp. 337-356.
- Peffers, K.; Tuunanen, T.; Rothenberger, M.A.; Chatterjee, S. (2007): A Design Science Research Methodology for Information Systems Research. In: Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 24 (2007) No. 3, pp. 45-77.