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Design Research (DR):
A Critical Review

C.Voigt
Centre for Social Innovation

- MASI 2013
Three Questions
• Taxonomy: What is DR?
• Practicability: When to use DR?
• Generalisability: What is a design?

C.Voigt

...
1st Question: What is DR ?
Motivation:
•

Research uses different categories for its instruments. The category
tells you w...
Definitions ‘Jog-Through’
•

Methodology: specifies a general set of assumptions about what
can be observed vs what is inf...
Maturity of DR
Methodology

Method

Ontology

Data
Collection

Data
Display

Conclusion
Verification

Neg.

C.Voigt

No
De...
2nd Question: When to use DR?
Motivation:
•

Every research involves a design. Does this mean you do design
research?

Que...
Focus on emergent, multidisciplinary design issues

What can researchers tell practitioners who want to
implement effectiv...
Artefact centred: Between Edison and Pasteur
Design needs to develop generalisable knowledge.

Research is inspired by:

C...
DR: Interventionist, Iterative and Contextual
• Improvements of technology
(any form of practical implementations)

Vijay ...
Negative Design Knowledge

Epistemic Cultures: how the sciences make knowledge By K. (Karin) Knorr-Cetina

C.Voigt

- MASI...
3rd Question: What is design?
Motivation:
• Design can be understood as a process or as product.

Question:
• Does the def...
Design Definitions
• A design is a plan to transform a given situation into a
desired one (Simon 1996).
– a procedure

• A...
Design Implications
 Situated Design –

Context Dependency
(Winograd 1987)

 Embodied Design –

Proactive Users,
Multipl...
References
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Dourish, P. (2004). Where the action is : the foundations of embodied
interaction. Cambridge...
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Design research

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Taxonomy: What is Design research?

Practicability: When to use Design research?

Generalisability: What is a design?

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  • Pasteur – developed Germ theory of disease & 1st vaccine for rabies & a process of pasteurisation
    Edison - 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, invented the light-bulb after 1000 complex experiments
    Bohr – developed the Bohr atom model and got the Nobel price for his work on radiation in 19
  • red makes the difference to design & development as in practice
  • Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin
  • Transcript of "Design research"

    1. 1. Design Research (DR): A Critical Review C.Voigt Centre for Social Innovation - MASI 2013
    2. 2. Three Questions • Taxonomy: What is DR? • Practicability: When to use DR? • Generalisability: What is a design? C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    3. 3. 1st Question: What is DR ? Motivation: • Research uses different categories for its instruments. The category tells you what to expect and what not to expect. This is important to know in order to evaluate DR against the appropriate standards. Question: • What category does DR belong to? Is it a methodology, a method, a framework, a theory or something else? Answer: • Formalistic; define and compare C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    4. 4. Definitions ‘Jog-Through’ • Methodology: specifies a general set of assumptions about what can be observed vs what is inferred, how do we justify our inferences and how do we justify our research (Onto-, Epistemo-, Axio-logy) (Sarantakos 1998, p.33) • Method: describes the interplay between data collection, data reduction, data display and conclusion drawing/verification (Miles & Huberman 1994, p.10) • Framework: graphical or textual description of key constructs to be studied and their presumed relationship. They may be commonsensical, theory- or data driven. (Miles & Huberman 1994, p.18) • Theory (e.g. about design improvement) is a framework plus agreed upon standards to evaluate its content, e.g. comprehensiveness, parsimony and conservatism (Quine 1978, Web of beliefs) C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    5. 5. Maturity of DR Methodology Method Ontology Data Collection Data Display Conclusion Verification Neg. C.Voigt No Definition what a design is. * Key constructs & Relationsh ips ** * * pragmatic user centered Pos. - Axiology Theory * Iterative Reactive algorithms prototypes Artifact centered Replication Design Pos. and negative Design knowledge Partially technolog. Deterministic No guidelines about what data to collect? E.g. Use-cases, User-feedback Etc. No guidelines about how to visualize design changes over time. At times: One-sided Deterministic Lacks construct definitions
    6. 6. 2nd Question: When to use DR? Motivation: • Every research involves a design. Does this mean you do design research? Question: • What are DR’s strengths? Answer: • Good for developmental research, aimed at mainly technical systems. There might be better alternatives for socio-technical systems. C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    7. 7. Focus on emergent, multidisciplinary design issues What can researchers tell practitioners who want to implement effective online collaboration in a virtual meeting room (Features: VoIP, shared applications, opinion poll etc.) ? Critical success factors: a) Functionalities of an application (RE, SE) b) The interface of an application (HCI) c) Users knowledge of the interface (HCI) d) Shared understanding of objectives (Cognitive sciences) e) Practice of online collaboration (Social sciences) f) Institutional backup (Organisational sciences) g) ... C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    8. 8. Artefact centred: Between Edison and Pasteur Design needs to develop generalisable knowledge. Research is inspired by: Considerations of use?(Prescriptive) Quest for fundamental understanding? (Descriptive) Stokes, D. E. (1997). Pasteur's quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation. Washington Brookings Institution Press (available online). C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    9. 9. DR: Interventionist, Iterative and Contextual • Improvements of technology (any form of practical implementations) Vijay Vaishnavi or Bill Kuechler (2006) C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    10. 10. Negative Design Knowledge Epistemic Cultures: how the sciences make knowledge By K. (Karin) Knorr-Cetina C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    11. 11. 3rd Question: What is design? Motivation: • Design can be understood as a process or as product. Question: • Does the definition of design matter? Answer: • Different definitions suggest different means of design. C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    12. 12. Design Definitions • A design is a plan to transform a given situation into a desired one (Simon 1996). – a procedure • A design is the fixation of knowledge (Perkins 1986). – a knife (shape, sawing function etc) C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    13. 13. Design Implications  Situated Design – Context Dependency (Winograd 1987)  Embodied Design – Proactive Users, Multiple Meaning Designs (Dourish 2004)  Shared Design – The usage of a design is negotiated (Hutchinson 1995) None of the above design approaches thinks of design as an isolated artifact. C.Voigt - MASI 2013
    14. 14. References • • • • • • • • • Dourish, P. (2004). Where the action is : the foundations of embodied interaction. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the wild. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Knorr-Cetina, K. (1999). Epistemic cultures : how the sciences make knowledge. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Perkins, D. N. (1986). Knowledge as design. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates. Sarantakos, S. (1998). Social Research (2nd ed.): Macmillan Education Australia. Simon, H. A. (1996). The sciences of the artificial (Third edition ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Stokes, D. E. (1997). Pasteur's quadrant: Basic sience and technological innovation. Washington: Brookings Institution Press. Voigt, C. & Swatman, P. M. C. (2006). Learning through Interaction: improving practice with design-based research. International Journal of Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 3(3), 207-224. Winograd, T. & Flores, C. F. (1987). Understanding computers and cognition : a new foundation for design. Reading, Mass. Sydney: AddisonWesley. C.Voigt - MASI 2013
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