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Alan Lee, Formative & Summative Validity

alan_leeIn a very provocative research seminar at GSU yesterday, Alan Lee explained how information systems researchers typically test how well the data fits their model (establish formative validity, modus ponens), but rarely test how well the theory works, or predicts (establish summative validity, modus tollens).

Here is a few other items I noted:

  • He asked: Instead of doing a grounded theory investigation of the literature, why not do a hermeneutic interpretation? He cited scholars who have said that the logic of the hermeneutic circle is hypothetical deductive reasoning, which is the logic of modus tollens (summative).
  • He sees a truce between the different research camps (qualitative, quantitative, etc.) not an open armed embracing, all-on-the-same-team feeling. I can see that.
  • In his paper, there are useful tables which outline how each research method area uses formative and summative validity… formative validity is found in the hermeneutic circle, replication across cases and the principle of dialogical reasoning.
  • There was a discussion about how methodological papers can become a check-list for researchers, which stifles creativity in methods.

His paper should be published in MISQ.