The last ten years has been a time of growth and formalization for digital government (DG) research, spurred especially in the past five years by the existence of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Digital Government Research Program. The amount and variety of digital government research is clearly growing. A community of DG researchers appears to be emerging and is comprised of computer and information sciences and social and behavioral sciences. The community appeals to both academics and practitioners.
For the purposes of this study we defined digital government research as the application of computer and information sciences, as well as the social and behavioral sciences, to the information-related needs, problems, and missions of government agencies and democratic societies.
The questions being addressed by DG researchers cut across almost every domain of public service and every aspect of information management, technology, and infrastructure. Therefore, the two distinguishing features of many digital government research projects are their multidisciplinarity and the incorporation of partnerships between researchers and practitioners. These unique features of DG research are observable in the rising number of collaborative projects, cross-disciplinary initiatives, and multi-method approaches.
However, the question remains whether traditional academic journals welcome submissions that depart from conventional disciplinary treatment of research findings. This project explores the need for and feasibility of a new journal dedicated to digital government research.
This study created and administered an on-line survey of digital government researchers. The survey was designed to elicit the experiences, opinions, preferences, and professional characteristics of individuals conducting digital government research. We compiled a purposive sample of digital government researchers from several lists including: (1) authors and co-authors of articles published in the top five academic journals in public administration, public policy, and management information systems between 1999 and 2003 (2) the attendees and presenters at the National Conference on Digital Government Research; (3) presenters in the e-government cluster at the annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS); and (4) all National Science Foundation (NSF) digital government grantees (principal investigators and co-investigators). These were selected because they are considered outlets for interdisciplinary research. A total of 458 participants were sent the online survey. We achieved a 41% response rate (n=188).
The survey data was analyzed and presented at the 2004 National Digital Government Research Conference (dgo.2004). Highlights were shared with respondents and the data is the basis for several forthcoming reports and articles.
The project is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, grant number EIA-CISE-RI-MII 0306813.