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Fostering active user involvement in the specification of network information systems.

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Fostering Active User Involvement in the Specification of Network Information Systems1 Aldo de Moor Nardo B.J. van der Rijst InfoLab Department of Information Systems Tilburg University Delft University of Technology P.O. Box 90153, NL-5000 LE Tilburg P.O. Box 356, NL-2600 AJ Delft The Netherlands The Netherlands E-mail: [email protected] E-mail: [email protected] Tel: +31 13 4662914 Tel: +31 15 2783886 Fax: +31 13 4663069 Fax: +31 15 2786632 Abstract In this paper we propose a strict separation between the information system specification and implementation stage. In order to allow for more active user participation in the information system specification process we also advocate a strong connection between the information use and specification stage. Some deficiencies of current approaches are criticized. A specification method aimed at research networks, RENISYS, is introduced that is being constructed on the basis of the proposed ideas. Its application is shown by analyzing a case on an Internet-based research network experimenting with writing group reports. 1. Introduction Professional communities are formed by people who share some common goals and actively cooperate to achieve them. A good example of a professional community is a research network. It represents a goal-oriented network of professionals that focuses on supporting certain stages of the research process like the planning and conduct of research and the dissemination and implementation of the results. Research networks are expected to quickly gain importance as catalysts of research collaboration [DeMoor96]. From an information scientific point of view the research network is especially interesting because it consists of stakeholders with sometimes very diverging goals, backgrounds, and interests. This results in an even larger need for structured, yet at the same time flexible workflow support and information and communication management than required in more homogeneous networks. Concurrently with the risi

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