Four reference models for transparency requirements in information systems
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Journal: Requirements Engineering
© 2017, The Author(s). Transparency is a key emerging requirement in modern businesses and their information systems. Transparency refers to the information which flows amongst stakeholders for the purpose of informed decision-making and taking the right action. Transparency is generally associated with positive connotations such as trust and accountability. However, it has been shown that it could have adverse effects such as information overload and affecting decisions objectiveness. This calls for systematic approaches for transparency to ensure its cost-effectiveness and avoid such adverse side effects. This is especially true considering that the relatively few works in the literature on transparency requirements have focused mainly on making information available and accessible and have paid little focus on the information receivers’ side and making it meaningful for them. In this paper, we reflect on our previous research on transparency and its multi-faceted constructs and review multi-disciplinary conceptualisation and propose four reference models which are meant to form a holistic conceptual baseline for transparency requirements in information systems. These reference models cover transparency actors, transparency meaningfulness, transparency usefulness, and information quality in transparency. We also discuss the interdependencies amongst these four reference models and their implications for requirements engineers and information system analysts. As a proof of concept, we analyse a mainstream transparency document, the United Kingdom Freedom of Information Act, in the light of our reference models and demonstrate the need to consider transparency more holistically and the need to include the information receiver’s perspective and the inter-relations amongst various properties and constituents of transparency as well. We then highlight areas of improvement informed by our analysis.