The evolution of goal‐based information modelling: literature review

Andrew John Boyd (CIBER, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



The first in a series on goal‐based information modelling, this paper presents a literature review of two goal‐based measurement methods. The second article in the series will build on this background to present an overview of some recent case‐based research that shows the applicability of the goal‐based methods for information modelling (as opposed to measurement). The third and concluding article in the series will present a new goal‐based information model – the goal‐based information framework (GbIF) – that is well suited to the task of documenting and evaluating organisational information flow.


Following a literature review of the goal‐question‐metric (GQM) and goal‐question‐indicator‐measure (GQIM) methods, the paper presents the strengths and weaknesses of goal‐based approaches.


The literature indicates that the goal‐based methods are both rigorous and adaptable. With over 20 years of use, goal‐based methods have achieved demonstrable and quantifiable results in both practitioner and academic studies. The down side of the methods are the potential expense and the “expansiveness” of goal‐based models. The overheads of managing the goal‐based process, from early negotiations on objectives and goals to maintaining the model (adding new goals, questions and indicators), could make the method unwieldy and expensive for organisations with limited resources. An additional challenge identified in the literature is the narrow focus of “top‐down” (i.e. goal‐based) methods. Since the methods limit the focus to a pre‐defined set of goals and questions, the opportunity for discovery of new information is limited.

Research limitations/implications

Much of the previous work on goal‐based methodologies has been confined to software measurement contexts in larger organisations with well‐established information gathering processes. Although the next part of the series presents goal‐based methods outside of this native context, and within low maturity organisations, further work needs to be done to understand the applicability of these methods in the information science discipline.


This paper presents an overview of goal‐based methods. The next article in the series will present the method outside the native context of software measurement. With the universality of the method established, information scientists will have a new tool to evaluate and document organisational information flow.



Boyd, A. (2005), "The evolution of goal‐based information modelling: literature review", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 57 No. 6, pp. 523-538.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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