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Navigating difference: a framework to support understanding of design research.

Maher, C., 2020. Navigating difference: a framework to support understanding of design research. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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MAHER, Carmel_Ph.D._2020.pdf



The social practice of design and design research is continually evolving to meet the needs of society. Research has always been an integral part of the design process, yet as a profession which developed outside of the university, its methodologies are fundamentally different from more traditional academic models by incorporating elements of creativity, intuition and tacit knowledge. Increased collaboration with the wider academic research community combined with greater focus on public research assessment and accountability creates a clear need for design to develop, define and communicate its particular research methodologies. The research was conducted in three phases. A documentary analysis of the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014 (UK REF 2014) captures an understanding of how research, and in particular design research, is represented, defined and evaluated within the wider discursive and social practice of research assessment. This was followed by a constructivist grounded theory study of practising design researchers to capture their approach and understanding of design research. Finally, building on the themes emerging from the documentary analysis and grounded theory study, a hermeneutical circle of interpretation is developed to explore the contextual social and historical structures, practices and cultures shaping the evolution of design research. Based on the findings, a framework titled Navigating Difference has been created to support understanding of design research practice. Navigating Difference represents the experience of design researchers as they navigate the opposing values of design practice and academic research. Addressing research questions framed in terms of ‘what could be’, design research practice was found to be determined by the embodied interaction of the design researcher with the human situation, drawing on a combination of creativity, intuition and theoretical knowledge. The Navigating Difference framework maps and explicates the range of design research approaches as evidenced in the research interviews and the continued evolution of design research practice as it navigates and addresses design practice and academic research values.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:design research methods; research methodology; qualitative research; grounded theory; NVivo; industrial design
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:34156
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:16 Jun 2020 14:55
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:22


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