The Academic Discipline of Information Technology: A Systematic Literature Review

Roshanak Basty, Asuman Celik, Hazem Said
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 20  •  2023  •  pp. 001-023
This paper aims to answer the research question, “What are the development phases of the academic discipline of information technology in the United States?” This is important to understand the reason for the growing talent gap in the information technology (IT) industry by reviewing the evolution of information technology across time, how the discipline was formed, evolved, and gained independence from other information and computing disciplines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the shortage of IT professionals in the workplace. The root reason for this talent shortage requires understanding from both industry and academic perspectives in order to implement effective initiatives to prepare, recruit, and retain diverse IT professionals at an early stage.

This paper used a systematic literature review methodology and retrieved 143 primary studies from the ACM and IEEE Xplore digital libraries to review the development phases of the IT discipline as a contributing factor in understanding why, when, and how the population of professionals in IT and other relevant computing disciplines has changed and continues to fluctuate. Thematic analysis was applied to the abstracts of the primary studies, which spanned the period of 1982 to 2021.

This paper contributes to the understanding of the discipline of IT in the US and contributes foundations to researchers and educators who are working on strategies to fill the talent gap.

Based on the thematic analysis in this paper, the academic discipline of IT has evolved over four phases across a timeline from 1982 to 2021. These phases were: Phase 1 (1982-1991) – Advent of Information Technology; Phase 2 (1992-2001) – Industry IT & DevOps; Phase 3 (2002-2011) – Information Technology and Management in Evolving Industry, Academia, and Research Areas; and Phase 4 (2011-2021) – Information Technology Research & Education.

Recommendations for Practitioners.
IT occupies an independent disciplinary space from computer science, computer engineering, and information systems. The paper suggests that practitioners seeking to fill the talent gap in IT invest in enabling its academic programs.

Recommendations for Researchers.
The depth of the IT disciplinary space and its continued evolution over time is ready for exploration. Continued research in this area may yield a better understanding of its role in society, the skills needed to succeed, and how to build programs to empower students with these skills.

Impact on Society.
Examining the discipline of IT and understanding its independence and interrelated connection with other computing disciplines will help address the shortfalls in academia across the nation by identifying the distinction between each discipline and creating comprehensive programs, degrees, and curricula suitable for various students and professionals across all educational levels.

Future Research.
Future research will integrate papers’ introductions and conclusions in addition to abstracts, increase the number of databases and reviewers, as well as incorporate papers that focus on other information and computing disciplines such as computer science and information systems to explore the possibility that IT as a discipline was initially practiced in an existing information or computing discipline before it gained independence.
information technology, discipline of information technology, systematic liter-ature review
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