Suggestions For Improving Your Research Process

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This presentation covers some of the things I have learnt while undertaking a PhD in architecture. It focuses on the development of a robust research process through the use of MUPPET: Motivate, Undertake, Plan, Ponder, Exchange & Test.

For more writing related to the thesis itself checkout:
http://www.stress-free.co.nz/thesis

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Suggestions For Improving Your Research Process

  1. 1. Suggestions for improving your research process Using a MUPPET to help chase down rainbows with your horse and cart
  2. 2. Who am I? Started PhD at the end of 2003 with a Top Achiever Scholarship... ...the thesis will be submitted for review in a few months. What was I doing during that time? • I.T. consulting & programming • Traveling • Growing up • Battling the research process
  3. 3. What I will cover Identifying the horse, cart and 1 rainbow within your research. The missteps I took during my 2 research and its consequences. MUPPET: simple tips for 3 keeping your research on track. How MUPPET helped me 4 formalise my research process.
  4. 4. 1 2 3 4 Chasing rainbows with your horse and cart
  5. 5. 1 2 3 4 Objective Interest Process Outcome, ambition Personal, lifeblood Argument, methodology
  6. 6. 1 2 3 4 Without a process you are not moving towards your objective, just enjoying your interest.
  7. 7. 1 2 3 4 Without an interest, research is a long hard slog and the outcome unsatisfying.
  8. 8. 1 2 3 4 The interest sustains and the process leads
  9. 9. 1 2 3 4 But what happens if... ...the interest drives the process?
  10. 10. 1 2 3 4 Letting my cart get ahead of the horse
  11. 11. 1 2 3 4 Objective: “better” digital collaboration
  12. 12. 1 2 3 4 The technical diversity within the industry poses a problem
  13. 13. 1 2 3 4 Building Information Models Or so we are led to believe result in better digital collaboration
  14. 14. 1 2 3 4 We currently do a bad job of BIM is a “perfect” record of an outcome, but the processes that recording the design story led to it are lost or forgotten.
  15. 15. 1 2 3 4 Interest: applying Web technologies within architecture practice
  16. 16. 1 2 3 4 These Web-centric technologies are reshaping the way we communicate, acquire information and conduct commerce.
  17. 17. 1 2 3 4 The architecture industry has been slow to adopt such practices.
  18. 18. 1 2 3 4 Rather than develop a research process, I followed my interests.
  19. 19. 1 2 3 4 I blogged my thoughts and findings because in the context of the research it “made sense”.
  20. 20. 1 2 3 4 I developed and tested a software prototype embodying interesting Web technologies within an architectural collaboration environment.
  21. 21. 1 2 3 4 Gartner Group, 2006 Realisation - The industry lacks Principles are decision aids principles for digital collaboration in a rapidly moving environment
  22. 22. 1 2 3 4 Proposed the principles of the Project Information Cloud Simplicity Ubiquity Decentralisation Modularity Context Sensitivity Information Awareness Evolutionary Semantics
  23. 23. 1 2 3 4 Problem: How to robustly justify the hypothesis of the principles without starting from square one?
  24. 24. 1 2 3 4 Using MUPPET to foster the research process
  25. 25. 1 2 3 4 M otivate Eureka moments only take you so far. U ndertake Write something research related every (other) day. P lan Consciously identify your rainbow, horse and cart. P onder Understand how your actions relate to the research. E xchange Talk to everyone (relevant) about your research. T est Evaluate what you have done & where you are going.
  26. 26. 1 2 3 4 Motivate: Research is not a sprint but a marathon broken up by euphoric “eureka” moments.
  27. 27. 1 2 3 4 Undertake: Creating something tangible establishes a point of discussion and reference.
  28. 28. 1 2 3 4 Plan: Start developing your research structure immediately with the knowledge it will change.
  29. 29. 1 2 3 4 Ponder: Try not to blindly act but if you do, take time afterwards to assess its research value.
  30. 30. 1 2 3 4 Exchange: Develop the key research ideas through elevator, email and coffee pitches to peers.
  31. 31. 1 2 3 4 Test: No (research) plan survives contact with the enemy, be prepared to change or compromise.
  32. 32. 1 2 3 4 Applying MUPPET to improve my research process
  33. 33. 1 2 3 4 Eureka moment - the research actually dealt with M otivate broader digital collaboration principles. Action: Take the time to analyse all the research U ndertake results to develop a process that justifies this finding. P lan P onder E xchange T est
  34. 34. 1 2 3 4 M otivate I was writing reasonably regularly about the subject U ndertake but it was informal. Action: Commit to writing “real” thesis chapters. P lan P onder E xchange T est
  35. 35. 1 2 3 4 M otivate U ndertake P lan I knew the high-level structure of my thesis but below this was patchy. Action: Review everything produced, assemble it into P onder a viable structure and identify its shortcomings. E xchange T est
  36. 36. 1 2 3 4 M otivate U ndertake P lan P onder The prototype had inspired the eureka moment but experiments prove hypothesis, not create them. Action: Determine how the prototype’s results prove E xchange the identified digital collaboration principles. T est
  37. 37. 1 2 3 4 http://www.flickr.com/photos/photochiel/ M otivate U ndertake P lan P onder Regular publishing of blog content and papers had E xchange built worldwide ties within the industry. Action: Proactively engage with a broad range of T est people to develop the viability of the research.
  38. 38. 1 2 3 4 M otivate U ndertake P lan P onder E xchange There was very little cohesion between the writing on the blog, the published papers and the prototype. T est Action: Continually work through the argument until all aspects of the work have a consistent message.
  39. 39. In conclusion • How I approached my research was not “right” but it was worthwhile. • Select your research interest wisely as it will sustain you. • Identify achievable and precise research outcomes. • Formulate and follow a research process early on. • Resist the urge to “see where your interest takes you”. • If in doubt remember MUPPET: Motivate, Undertake, Plan, Ponder, Exchange & Test

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