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Roger Clarke's Definition of I.S.

The Scope of the Domain

Roger Clarke

Version of 5 March 1995

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The term 'information system' admits of a variety of definitions, and its usage is maturing over time. I use it in the following sense:

An information system is a set of interacting artefacts and human activities that performs one or more functions involving the handling of data and information, including data collection, creation, editing, processing and storage; and information selection, filtering, aggregration, presentation and use.

Several different categories of information system can be distinguished. The following diagram maps them against the conventional hierarchical structure of an organisation. Note that, confusingly, the conventional name for one of the classes of information system is `(management) information systems' ...

IS does not, and never can, exist in isolation from other disciplines; rather, it is inevitably and critically dependent on a number of reference disciplines. This leads to the following working definition of the discipline's focus:

Information systems is the multi-disciplinary study of the collection, processing and storage of data; of the use of information by individuals and groups, especially within an organisational context; and of the impact, implications and management of artefacts and technologies applied to those activities.

The scope of the information systems area is therefore broad, and encompasses both organisational and technical matters. It involves:

In order to cope with the diversity and complexity involved, graduates, practitioners and academics require grounding in, and ongoing association with, several cognate disciplines.

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Created: 26 June 1998 - Last Amended: 26 June 1998 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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