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Interactivity 1

Research in Design
What is research?
Why conduct research?
Types of research
Research in design
Research process
Developing a topic

What is research?
the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in
order to establish facts and reach new conclusions:
(Oxford Dictionary, 2016)
synonyms: investigation, experimentation, testing, analysis, factfinding,
fieldwork, examination, scrutiny
These investigations are based upon theories in order to explain
particular phenomena (eg. people, activities, events) and provide
criteria for evaluation

What about design and research?

Design is a way of inquiring, a way of producing knowing and
knowledge; this means it is a way of researching
(Downton, 2013)

The science of method, or a body of methods, employed in a particular

activity as the research aspects of a project. A logical, predefined, and
systematic strategy by which to undertake and progress a graphic design
project, to include methods of evaluation of experimental outcomes, a
schedule for each stage of the project and stated intention or purpose in
relation to a range of anticipated outcomes.
(Noble and Bestley, 2011 )

Types of research
Primary research is an investigation undertaken by the researcher that
seeks to generate original knowledge.

Secondary research is existing research int he field used to support the

designers own [primary] research.

Tertiary research is based on on secondary research of others and to

restate what others have previously stated
(Noble and Bestley, 2011 )

Theory and research

Theoretical frameworks provide a particular perspective, or lens, through
which to examine a topic.

Often originate from outside disciplines - social sciences, visual art,

philosophy, cultural theory - and are used by design researchers to add
depth or a new dimension to the topic.

Theoretical frameworks can help to structure research activities and

provide criteria for evaluation.

Research in graphic design

Exploratory research is used to generate visual interpretations through
the discovery of making

Applied research is focused on the implementation of knowledge and

methods to a practical situation for people in specific context

Scholarly research investigation of the discipline in the form of theory,

criticism and history.

Developing a research topic

How do you decide what really interests you?
Is it a social issue, current event, cultural practice or other phenomena?
Begin broadly - examine popular media - blogs, magazines, news
Develop a list of keywords in the field where your topic resides
Search library databases, journals, books in the topic field
Seek alternative sources - films, museums, lectures, experts

Further development
Understand to evaluate what you see and read
Develop your own opinions and critical frameworks based on informed
judgments - not simply what you like or dont like
Acquire the critical skills to discern reliable/useful resources from junk
Learn to evaluate your own work and self-critique in light of what you
are learning from your research

Topic Writing Exercise

Start by jotting down a list of as many topics of interest as you can.
You have 2 minutes
Now rank that list from the most researchable to least researchable topics.
For your top pick write about what you know to be the truth about the
topic. How do you know this? You have 10 minutes.
Next, write about what you have written about the topic and its truth.
What questions do you have about your topic? You have 10 minutes
Consider how your topic contributes to new knowledge to the existing
body of research of this topic area. You you will enter this in your
Design Journal.

Research Question
A good research question defines the focus of your research project
Your research question helps others to know the specific subject matter being
addressed within the broad topic of graphic design

A research question can set boundaries and helps to determine next steps
A research question helps to define the data you need to collect and which
methods to be used

George Mason University Writing Centre

Anatomy of a Research Question

(What/How) is/can (design-related theory/phenomena) (help/aid/ support or
change) (participants/audience/user) at (a research site or in a specified

For example: How can an information design approach to mapping the city be
used to examine the growing complexity of multicultural neighbourhoods?

Research Question
A researchable question is a clear, concise and arguable question around
which the research is focused.
Important to form a research question concerning an issue or idea that you
are genuinely curious in exploring.
The research question directs the researchers thinking to possible sources of
information that will aid in resolving or investigating your topic.
Importantly, the research question provides the researcher with a position
from which the research can begin.
George Mason University Writing Centre

Research Question
However, as you collect data, your question is likely to change and grow.

Defining research questions within your project is not a linear process.

Questions will define your directions of inquiry and, in turn, the results of your
inquiries will refine your question.
Developing research questions is an iterative process evolving with your

George Mason University Writing Centre

Research Question
The researchable question:
Is not answered by yes or no
Is not a description of process or steps to be taken
Reflects a hierarchy among relevant concepts
Requires a definition of terms
Is capable of being broken down into 3-5 subquestions, which suggest
methodology and literature and, when answered, resolves the larger issue
Avoids issues of better or more unless accompanied by appropriate
methods that will validate such claims

Research Considerations

After youve come up with a research question, think about what the path your
research will take you?
What kind of argument are you hoping to make/support?

Is your research question complex?

Research questions should not be answerable by easily-found facts.
It should require both exploration and analysis on the part of the researcher.

Research Process
Problem/idea/proposition generates

Thesis Statement/Research Question defines

Research Methodology produces

Research Outcome solves/reveals/explains

Thats it for now .