European Journal of Information Systems

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 509–533 | Cite as

Fragmentation or cohesion? Visualizing the process and consequences of information system diversity, 1993–2012

  • Yong Liu
  • Hongxiu Li
  • Jorge Goncalves
  • Vassilis Kostakos
  • Bei Xiao
Research Essay


In information systems (IS) literature, there is ongoing debate as to whether the field has become fragmented and lost its identity in response to the rapid changes of the field. The paper contributes to this discussion by providing quantitative measurement of the fragmentation or cohesiveness level of the field. A co-word analysis approach aiding in visualization of the intellectual map of IS is applied through application of clustering analysis, network maps, strategic diagram techniques, and graph theory for a collection of 47,467 keywords from 9551 articles, published in 10 major IS journals and the proceedings of two leading IS conferences over a span of 20 years, 1993 through 2012. The study identified the popular, core, and bridging topics of IS research for the periods 1993–2002 and 2003–2012. Its results show that research topics and subfields underwent substantial change between those two periods and the field became more concrete and cohesive, increasing in density. Findings from this study suggest that the evolution of the research topics and themes in the IS field should be seen as part of the natural metabolism of the field, rather than a process of fragmentation or disintegration.


co-word analysis bibliometric study information systems identity cohesion 



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Copyright information

© The OR Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Liu
    • 1
  • Hongxiu Li
    • 2
  • Jorge Goncalves
    • 3
  • Vassilis Kostakos
    • 3
  • Bei Xiao
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Information and Service Economy, Aalto University School of BusinessHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Turku University School of EconomicsTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of OuluOuluFinland
  4. 4.Department of Information Technologies, Åbo Akademi UniversityTurkuFinland

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