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Roger Clarke's 'History of I.S. in Australia' App. 6

A Retrospective on the Information Systems Discipline in Australia
Appendix 6: The Early International Impact of Australian IS

Roger Clarke **

Version of 9 November 2007

This file contains Appendix 6 to the paper 'A Retrospective on the Information Systems Discipline in Australia'

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This Appendix reports the results of a brief analysis undertaken of the international impact of Australian IS scholars.

The period considered is limited to 1965 to 1995. The measures used have been limited to publications in the discipline's flagship journals and conferences.

The following people have been excluded, because their work during the relevant period was undertaken elsewhere, or they were only visiting: (in alphabetical order) Janice Burn, Angela Cavaye, Philip Ein-Dor, Bob Galliers and Michael Vitale.

The first specialist journal, MISQ, has been published since 1977. Authorship was very strongly U.S. during its first two decades. The first Australian author appears to have been Iris Vessey, in June 1980 (4, 2) and again in June 1981 (5, 2). (She may also have been the first non-US author and/or the first non-US PhD to publish there). Ted Stohr followed in December 1983 (7, 4). Iris published again in March 1988 (12, 1), this time in conjunction with Peter Tait of Touche Ross, Brisbane. Rick Watson appeared for the first time in September 1988 (12, 3), Eric J. Walton (then at U.W.A.) in December 1988 (12, 4), Peter Weill in March 1989 (13, 1), Rick again in June 1990 (14, 2), Michael Lawrence and Graham Low from U.N.S.W. in June 1993 (17, 2), and Rick again in June 1995 (19, 2). Tellingly perhaps, Ron Weber appears only as an Editor, and only from 2002.

In Information & Management, the first paper by an Australian was by Ross Jeffery & Iris Vessey, in 1980, the next by Ross Jeffery & Michael Lawrence in 1981, then Bob Edmundson & Ross Jeffery in 1984, Iris Vessey again in 1986, Michael Sager in 1988, Bill Cundiff in 1989, then Guy Gable in 1991.

Information Systems Research (ISR) was a relative latecomer on the journal scene, in 1989. Australians were slow to break into it as well, with the first publishers appearing to be Iris Vessey in 1995 (vol. 6), Ron Weber twice in 1996, and Peter Seddon in 1997.

Brisk analysis of the early years in Management Science identified no papers prior to 1996 (vol. 42), when both Ron Weber and Guy Gable published. Rick Watson published there in 1998.

Communications of the ACM was an outlet for quality refereed articles in IS from the late 1970s until it adopted a lower-quality magazine format in the early 1990s. Early Australian IS authors were Iris Vessey & Ron Weber in 26, 2 (February 1983) and again in 29, 1 (January 1986), Ron Weber in 31, 1 ( January 1988) and Roger Clarke in 31,5 (May 1988).

The first ICIS Proceedings in 1980 included a paper by Ted Stohr (already of NYU - although the 'I' stands for International, the first ICIS was addressed exclusively by people resident in the USA). 1981 included 6 papers with non-American authors (from The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Israel). 1982 included a similar number, with Finland, Sweden, Israel, Canada and Singapore represented. 1983 was similar, but Norway and Italy made their first appearance, and Ted Stohr again contributed.

The first contributions from Australia were in 1985, by Iris Vessey & Ron Weber; by Iris Vessey as sole author, both at that stage at the University of Queensland; and by Rick Watson, then of W.A. CAE. Ron Weber re-appeared in 1988. In 1989, Australia was represented by Ron Weber, Peter Creasy (also of the University of Queensland), and Peter Weill (at that stage of the University of Melbourne). Rick Watson also appeared in 1989, although by then he was at Georgia. In 1990, Ron Weber appeared again, as did Peter Weill and Marianne Broadbent. In 1991, Ron (twice), Peter and Marianne, and Rick again featured, and Paula and Paul Swatman made their first appearance. The steady increase in competition for space has meant that Australian representation on the ICIS programme, although consistent, has seldom been as high since then. It did include the Best Paper Award in 1996, to Marianne Broadbent and Peter Weill (with 2 non-Australian co-authors).

The ECIS conference has also had high standards since it commenced in 1993, and the involvement of Australians has been considerable. Galliers & Whitley note that, in the first 10 years, 1993-2002, "the UK [had] by far the largest proportion of papers [398, 24%], the second largest contributors [being] Australia (153, 9%] and the USA [143, 9%, ahead of Germany 134, 8% and The Netherlands 103, 6%].

In summary, by 1995, it appears that only 2 resident Australians had published in MISQ, Mngt. Sci. and ISR combined, and only a further 3 in I&M and 2 in Commun. ACM. Moreover, Walstrom & Leonard's (2000) 'Citation Classics' article did not appear to include any contributions by Australians (although of course the same can be said for most countries, as the research arena has been so heavily dominated by US academics). On a proportional basis, Australians did not figure strongly in the early years of the discipline, but a small number of individuals forged substantial international reputations.


Walstrom K.A. & Leonard L. (2000) 'Citation Classics from the Information Systems Literature' Infor. & Mngt. 38, 2 (December 2000) 59-72

In more recent years, Australians are very well represented in international conferences, particularly in Europe and to a lesser extent in North America. Their impact in major journals continues to be swamped, however, because of the very large and in part very professional population of American, and to a lesser extent Canadian and European IS researchers. The UK is probably the next most influential country, after which Australia can probably claim its place, at worst on a per-capita par with Hong Kong and Singapore, and with The Netherlands and Germany. Many countries in Europe, Asia and South America are, of course, held back by the very strong english-language bias in the IS discipline.

Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor in the E-Commerce Programme at the University of Hong Kong, Visiting Professor in the Baker & McKenzie Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre at the University of N.S.W., and Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University.

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