FDP Research Guidelines
1- Research File
A file containing all the secondary information you have found relevant to your
subject area. You should arrange these in a logical manner (i.e. under headings
or topics titles). This file should be added to throughout the entire project and
should be accessed regularly for specific information on your topic.
2- Research Report
The research report should be a short document (quality not quantity!) outlining
the key findings from your research. It should begin with a short introduction to
the project and the background justification for undertaking it.
A literature review should follow the introduction; this gives a brief overview of the
existing products in the area as well as the research being undertaken in the
field. This will help to highlight gaps in the market aswell as gaps in the research
that you will need to fill through your own primary research. You will also need to
look at any legislation or British Standards that are relevant to your area as well
as the specific ergonomic data required for the Human Factors aspects.
This is the most important area of the research and is essential in helping you to
understand the topic, the user and environments of use. Focus on practical
research methods (you must justify why you have chosen the particular methods
and how you carried out the research)
Primary Research Methods may include:
-Focus groups (gathering a group of people together to ask questions
and gain user information first-hand, these need to be structured and well
organised. If a few people are doing similar projects or working with a similar
user group then maybe conduct a focus group together)
-Observations (both participant and discreet- this allows you to see how
people behave first-hand. Often discreet observations are very useful as people
tend to modify their behaviour if they know someone is watching them. Be very
careful though with breaching people’s privacy)
-Behaviour mapping (map ‘day in the life’ of a typical user in order to
identify other influences and stakeholders who may influence their behaviour or
the products functionality)
-Interviews and questionnaires - a small number of face-to face or
telephone interviews will generally yield better results than a large number of
questionnaires. Questionnaires tend to be better for getting quantitative
information (i.e. the amount of people who own a car with an engine size over 1.2
litres; or the number of people who use public transport)
-Diaries (ask users to keep a diary of their interaction with a product or
system over a period of time, this will illustrate patterns of use.)
-User trials or Products - in- Use (also called ‘task analysis’- set up user
trials with a small number of existing or potential users. This is a good way of
gaining a holistic understanding of the product/system aswell as identifying areas
for improvement and change. You should also use the products yourself so you
fully understand the processes involved in their use)
- Forecasting and trend analysis (where technology and fashion is
taking your product. Identify any major changes you think may influence your
- Market analysis (who are the competition [if any exists]? How does their
product or service fulfil the task? Identify flaws or opportunities for change. If no
direct competition exists look at all the other products that influence the tasks
involved in your topic)
- Personality Profiling (create or identify your key target user(s), create a
fictional character showing their habits, likes/dislikes and lifestyle. This can help
to focus the aesthetic direction later in the project)
- Style Analysis (look at current tends and styles. Again this will help with
aesthetics later in the project)
For more information on primary research methods see the presentation on
Gathering User Information on the Blog.
Be sure to record all the research you undertake in a visual way so it can be
used for the report and presentations.
Research findings and discussion:
The next section should contain the results of your findings (this can be a very
visual section with brief bullet points on the findings) followed by a short
discussion on these results.
You can include any videos or digital information on CD at the back of your
3- Visual Presentation
You must prepare a minimum of 3 ‘A2’ sized boards containing visual
representations of your key research findings. How you arrange the information
is up to you but please ensure it is logical and can be understood without verbal
Prepare these boards using the Adobe CS NOT POWERPOINT. It is
recommended to use InDesign as the best program for preparing layouts. Save
the files in PDF format and we can project them during the presentation. You
should print them out (smaller scale) for display in your area.
Be sure to employ all the rules of graphic presentation and visual communication.
There is no excuse for bad presentations at this stage in your study. By all
means look to other layouts for inspiration and guidance on your own layout. If
you decide on an interesting layout at this stage you can use them for all the
presentations in the project.
You must establish a blog and use it daily to map the process you are
undertaking with the project, to capture your thoughts, to allow you to see the
progress in other projects and to offer help and comment to your classmates.
The blog will be reviewed on a regular basis so ensure to keep it active for the
Notes on Report Layout:
- Page format:
Left Margin: 4cm
Right Margin: 2cm
Top Margin: 2.5cm
Bottom Margin: 2.5cm
-Use 12 point standard type (Times New Roman, Arial)
-Double line spacing
- insert your name and the title of the Report into the document so it appears on
- Insert page numbers onto every page.
- All figures, illustrations, tables, graphs and charts must be labelled.
-Never use first person (I or me), always use third person, e.g. the author/
- Please Use Spell check and/or get someone to read over it before you submit
to check for grammatical errors.
- Arrange the report so it is visually pleasing.
- Please ensure it is bound with a clip that can be undone so it can be added to
at a later date.
- Avoid long, complicated sentences, use bullet points where you can.
- Use footnotes where relevant (i.e. to explain a term not used in common
language or to give some more information)
You must reference all your sources if the information you are giving is not
common knowledge or information you have found yourself through
research, otherwise it is PLAGIARISM.
- Reference using Harvard Referencing System (see ‘Cite it Right’- copies
available from the library or online at)
When quoting or putting a reference in the body of the text it should appear like
this: quote or reference followed by (Surname of Author, year of publication,
page quote or reference appears on)
Stuart Walker implores designers to begin to look at products in a different way
and to desist from creating mere replacements for products and instead conceive
of novel solutions (Walker, 2005, page 2). Likewise Victor Papanek calls for
considered designs that respond to consumer needs 'Design must become an
innovative and highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the true
needs of men….and we must stop defiling the earth with poorly designed objects
and structures' (Papanek, 2000, preface).
HOW TO REFERENCE (Harvard System)
SURNAME, Initial, (year of Publication), Title of Book, Place of Publication,
BAKKER, C., 1995, Environmental Information for Industrial Designers,
Rotterdam, Earthscan Publishing.
Website address, (accessed on date)
www.biothinking.com (accessed 7-06-05)
SURNAME, Initial, year of publication, Article Title, Journal/Magazine Name,
Volume number, issue number, pages x-x
COOPER, T, 2000, Product Development Implications of Sustainable
Consumption, The Design Journal, Vol.3, Issue 2, pages 46-54
SURNAME, initial, year of publication, Title of Article, Online journal title, Issue
number, Available: from website address, (accessed on: date)
BABYAK, R., 2000, Getting Connected: Network News, Appliance Design
- Arrange in alphabetical order using the author’s surname.
- Group all similar literature together
- If there is more than one article from the same author it can be differentiated by
the year of publication, if the year of publication is the same put an [A] before the
first article and [B] before the second article.
[A] BHARMA, T., EVANS, S. VAN DER ZWAN, F. & COOK, M., 1999, Moving
from Eco-Products to Eco-Services, Journal of Design Research, Issue 2
Available from http://jdr.tudelft.nl
Put other books you may have read on the same subject but have not referenced
in the report into a reference section after the bibliography.