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1_Research Territories and Questions

This introductory session aims to support students in defining and evaluating research projects and their territories

Karen Bull

on 6 November 2013

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Transcript of 1_Research Territories and Questions

Why do research?
MDes/MA and MSc Research:
Setting out to Where?

7 key global issues – the Grand Challenges – have been identified where applied research is needed and where the University’s expertise can have a significant impact.

These research areas offer massive opportunities for staff, students and partners of the University to collaborate on projects. Interdisciplinary activity across the University's departments and faculties will be encouraged to involve a broad range of expertise and strengthen results.

These initiatives will enable the University to work more closely with external partners, enhance the student experience, build its reputation for high quality research and, most importantly, address grand challenges on a global scale.
Integrated Transport and Logistics
Digital Media
Ageing Community
Low Impact Buildings
Sustainable Agriculture and Food
Low Carbon Vehicles
The core objective of the challenge is to support the provision of better-informed, efficient and safe integrated public transport and logistics services..
This challenge is focused on both technological innovation and novel, creative content to find new ways to exploit digital environments.
The market for Assistive Technology has become more competitive as our nation ages.
This challenge will focus on the delivery of practical solutions, knowledge and innovation to industry and the public sector.
The University has long-standing expertise in this area. This challenge will be focused on areas of policy, social science and management
Testing, evaluating and designing the vehicles and associated systems needed to establish low carbon vehicles as viable alternatives to traditional modes of transport
What do the
grand challenges
aim to achieve?
Shaping the future of our world in its local and global context
Innovating for an enhanced world
Enhancing the environment and social contexts in which we live
Applying and connecting expertise
Strengthening manufacturing bases and local business effectiveness
Addressing global concerns/opportunities
Generate ideas for 5 minutes:
Topics associated with the Grand Challenges
an aspect of society or a cultural activity
enhance an experience
the environment,
improve a process,
advance a mode of manufacture or explore a potential technological opportunit
develop a particular knowledge/skill base
demonstrate creative and critical thinking skills
develop a research rich portfolio
prove a specialist focus
show that I can push boundaries
show that I can go beyond practitioner focus
Improve myself:
What are my foci?
Define your topic area
Prepare a problem/opportunity statement
Try to explain the background to your project
Define/list/prioritise the issues that you will explore
Analyse where relationships/connections exist between the issues you re exploring
How can I refine a topic area?
What makes a good project?
What is the question around which you wish to have a conversation, build an argument and draw conclusions?
broad enough to allow you to get plenty of material
focused enough to indicate a clear direction

How might car drivers respond in a future scenario where cars are not 'stand-alone' devices but 'responsive' to an intelligent mobility infrastructure?

How can 'digital reading' habits and opportunities be captured within the design process to aid the conceptualisation of future reading spaces and furniture?
Clear and simple
Improve the world:
Grand Challenges
Define a focus or angle for research
What is my question?
Living Climate Change is born from the conviction that design has a role to play in addressing the big challenges we faced by business and society. As design thinkers, IDEO aspired to shape the conversation by asking good questions and bringing them to life by exploring possible solutions in an optimistic and real-world way.
Individually reflect on your topics and their value using the priority matrix

You will conduct a research investigation into a design opportunity and produce a detailed design brief, design specification or a set of design guidelines.

You will use research to define the direction of your design projects.

This depth of research activity is distinct to PG study and requires a deep critical analysis of research data.

Your success will be determined by producing an innovative specification that is directly informed by analysis of literature and original data derived from a combination of research and analysis methods.
Design Thinking

We believe the future of design lies not in design doing, but design thinking.

“The next generation of designers will need to be as comfortable in the boardroom as they are in the studio or the shop, and they will need to begin looking at every problem – from adult illiteracy to global warming – as a design problem.”

Tim Brown, IDEO
a critical and creative activity
a procedure
an organised activity
question focused
about finding a solution – not always the expected one
Have I got a good research question or research statement?
Does it act as a useful signpost to your audience e.g. indicate the direction your study is heading towards or your main target of doing research?
Does it identify a proposition, argument or question that can be feasibly proved or resolved?
Is the question/statement achievable with the time and resources you have available?
Always think about how this question is going to support you and your career.
Peer review your questions. Work together to refine questions and ask people outside your field to comment.
Consider how do-able your research is. Can you imagine methods you may adopt e.g. practical experiment, interviews with particular specialists
Keep rewriting your question and use clear language. Don't be afraid to readdress the question later.

BA/BSc study has a more practical approach to conducting research to underpin design decisions during projects.

You must consider your strengths and aspirations and identify whether they are aligned to the MDes approach.

PG level assessment is centred strongly on the ability to make critical and creative connections from a range of data.

This is what makes your distinct from BA. It requires a deeper critical of examination ofdesign issues to inform new innovative design directions.

PG design research provides grounding for a student who wants to focus on a ‘beyond design’ career in creative direction, design management or design leadersh
For M134ID and M154ID
Prepared by: Karen Bull - October 2013

BA students will take an already strong idea of a design brief e.g. to design an off-road rescue truck for use in Scottish mountaineering resorts’ and conduct research to define design details e.g. user issues, manufacture, marketing, ergonomics and/or benchmarking.

PG students will step back to a broader design question e.g. What are the causes of death and injury amongst novice mountaineers and how can fatalities be mitigated through design?

The design researcher would then have to ask why there are so many deaths and what their causes are e.g inexperience; poor planning; or, inadequate equipment and then research around key themes.

The analytical phase would be centred on identifying a key innovation angle in the form of a brief or specification from interpretation of data findings.
The module requires that you:

develop a research question,

define a research a strategy and set of objectives for critically investigating a particular design related issue.

critically analyse the findings and creatively transform the outcomes into a set of conclusions

formulate a design brief and performance specification derived directly from your research
A research question can be broken down into a connected set of research objectives (sub-questions/goals)
You may consider thinking about the industrial design balance within your project
Continue to draft a research question and begin to think of possible project sub-questions/goals
Clear objectives can be turned into manageable research tasks that lead to data for analysis
Analysis & Interpretation

Research is...
What makes research valuable and significant?

“it is perhaps all too easy to collect facts without having a clear purpose or objective, to list the facts we have researched without evaluating or interpreting them, or to use the word ‘research’ just to get ideas noticed. In order for our audience to find our research credible, believable and relevant, we need to ensure that our research presents a systematic and organised way of finding answers to significant or pertinent questions”

Colins (2010) Creative Research – The Theory and Practice of Research for the Creative Industries.
Example Conceptual Frameworks
Research is an active, problem focused activity that requires a good starting point

You must define a clear focus and direction
by producing a well written research question

The best way to get going is with a problem focus. Alternatively you can look for an opportunity area e.g. a new context for applying technology
Research process - centred around proposing and defending a design related argument
Tim Brown urges designers to
'think big'
Human Security
Explores the drivers of individual wellbeing in complex and global contexts by understanding the causes of insecurity. It focuses on the concerns and vulnerabilities of people in their everyday lives.
Dave Hakkens, founder of PhoneBloks
“Every year millions of mobile phones are thrown away because they are broken or obsolete. In most of these cases it is just one part that needs repairing or upgrading and all the other parts work fine.”
analyse the data to draw conclusions
provide a starting point for exploration and questioning about our future lives, needs and opportunities for design
Future scenarios
Full transcript