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Session 2: Planning Design Research - M154ID and M134ID

This session explores the way a research question can be transformed into a set of purposeful research goals

Karen Bull

on 4 November 2014

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Transcript of Session 2: Planning Design Research - M154ID and M134ID

the design process
Empirical research involves the direct or indirect observation or experience
Difficult to test as not enough evidence to work with
Often qualitative
Strongly intuitive
look for from a range of existing sources
talk to people, ask questions to develop understanding
observe situations, users engaged in tasks
try things out, compare and test
Internet searches
Desk searches
artefact collections
Surveys and questionnaires
Focus groups
Participant observation
Recordings – video, visual, audio
Ergonomic rigs
Product clinics
User trips
Getting ready to 'explore'
Approaches require increasing depth
establish need
design specification
conceptualisation of design
assessment of solution
development of selected solutions
detailed design stage
final design/implementation stage
iterative nature of design - decisions informed/directed by research
A synthesis of the design processes described by Wilson (1990), Wood (1990)Meister (1987), Powrie (1987), Popovic (1986), Bailey (1982) and Konz (1974). This representation shows a ‘‘waterfall with interations” model of the design process, which conveniently captures the main stages in engineering design.
establish need
design specification
conceptualisation of design
assessment of solution
development of selected solutions
detailed design stage
final design/implementation stage
Inductive Research
What do you want to find out?
theory to data
large samples
strongly generalised results
explain relationships
more holistic
explores meanings
explains contexts
flexible allowing for change in emphasis
not always large samples
results not always generalised
Combined approach
Which approach?
Conducting a preliminary review
Defining a research problem/opportunity
Formulating of research objectives
Deciding on how to get information
Finding information
Analysing information
Generating results
completion of research phase to generate a strong design brief

A conceptual framework is a diagrammatic representation of the concepts, assumptions, expectations, beliefs and theories that are associated with your research. It is normally revised and updated as you move through the different phases of research
Develop a conceptual framework to help understand what is happening and why?

The framework will help you understand what is going on

Do I know how different aspects of the conceptual framework relate to each other?

Are there aspects of the conceptual framework that stand out as more significant than others?

Have I developed a map of the research boundaries?
Conceptual frameworks enable you to explore themes and ideas visually

Try to draw a diagram of the concepts assumptions, expectations, beliefs and theories that support and inform your research. This is an evolving diagram, continually refined and updated that helps you to focus your research.

Create links between the concepts, topics etc., where you think there ought to be connections. These may be changed later if they are found to be incorrect.
Once you have produced this initial map of the research territory you can use this to help organise your research goals.
It is useful to identify what you are definitely ‘not’ looking at. This will help you sort out the ‘wood from the trees’. It is sometimes helpful to produce this as a map too. This is often known as delimiting your research.
Develop key research objectives from your conceptual framework

An objective is normally shown as a bullet point which acts as a sub-goal of your research. It can be a question or a goal

An objective should identify research targets or aspects of understanding that you want to achieve

There should normally not be more than 3 major objectives. More than will be difficult to manage

Each objective should have an achievable outcome that supports the overall research goal

You can present them as the following frameworks show

develop problem statement/research question/hypothesis;

set objectives/targets/identify data sources/methods etc;

seek data/conduct experiments;

keep a diary, reflect on data, store data, be accurate;

draw on active/conscious and reflective/intuitive modes of thought;

to interpret, analyse, generate ideas, develop the ‘product’;

to share, to make understandable, to make usable;

understand the time available, set realistic targets, manage targets;
research methods
Focus Group
naturalistic observation
Desk-based research
participant observation
research papers
database searches
citation indexes
encyclopedias and dictionaries
websites, blogs, forums
documentaries or broadcasts
photo diaries or surveys
direct observation
direct observation
closed question online survery
explorative open question surveys
experience protyping
unfocus group with diverse sample group
2, 3 or 5 person focus group
card sorting in group situation
structured interview
semi-structured interview
un-structured interview
Develop a research contract (with yourself and your tutor):
The main consideration is how you are going to select research methods and tools in order to develop your knowledge and explore particular research phenomena. It is important to choose carefully and appropriately.
What information do you want to find out?
What do you want to prove or understand in more depth?
What do you want to test or validate?
What facilities, access and time do you have available to your study?
Are your methods manageable?
Don’t try to do too much – one strong piece of empirical research is enough.
to define
to clarify
to collect
to record
to reflect
to transform
to communicate
to schedule
Your Contract
iterative in nature
planning to do design research
Getting to grips with the research area
recognising yourself in that 'position' and what you already know, don't know, and how your own views and beliefs might influence the design situation
appreciation of the context of design - e.g. what is the social, cultural, technological, political, economic, environmental backdrop to your research area
knowing that there is a valid design research question
being strongly convinced that the question will lead to a designable outcome.
methodology is the journey by which you are going to find the stuff you want to see
methods are the tools you are going to use to look at what you want to see
the explorative phase
a process of:
opening up
narrowing down

5 minutes: Question seating provision for the elderly in the Bull Ring Shopping Mall.
who might be involved?
is seating the real problem?
How effective is the current solution?
who else might need seating?
What other uses exist for the seating?
What are the standards and legislation relating to seating in public spaces?
what is the real need?
How much can be spent on seating?
where should it be located?
does it need to work as a system?
Why do people need to sit down when shopping?
hould you be redesigning a seat or should you be looking at the issues of how the shopping experience would better support the more mature shopper and what facilities might encourage them to shop for longer?

Are elderly shoppers the only audience?
what are the requirements of those who maintain or install the seating?
should it behave like this? honda U3x
should it feel like this
is comfort a real issue?
how long will someone sit on it?
what other tasks might it serve?
what environment does it have to fit into
could it be misused
what is the real question?
step back:
How can we encourage the 60+ shoppers to spend longer in the shopping mall?
How long is spent sitting?
what do people like about sitting in shopping malls?
define your methodology and your methods
Define your methods: Quantitative or qualitative
to explore what could possibly be true
a beginners mind
no preconceived ideas - open out possibility
What will the story be about?
Think of research as having a beginning, middle and end.
Think about how to narrate your research journey both before you do it, whilst you do it and at the write up stage
Start with a concept framework or research map
the path of your research
its about bringing it all together
Goal: To generate an evidenced design brief
Creative transformation of data into ideas
Get your objectives right or you might reach the wrong answer
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