Week 7

Week 7 : Research Methodologies

Hosken’s lecture this week started by breaking down the meaning and purpose of research.

My own personal meaning of research is to actively ignite your curiosity to find out more around the subject or object in question. To search intensively for ideas, inspiration, and improve on our existing knowledge. Perhaps to find out something that completely contradicts our initial thoughts or find journals reinforcing our own ideas. For me, research goes beyond the computer and online publications, it’s going into the real world, experiencing life from a different point of view or even utilising a local library or achives to dig deeper into the foundations of the topic.

Curiosity: This is the initial step into research – to want to find out more you must be curious about the subject. We must want to take about the subject or idea and explore each and every part of it, ask questions, Hosken’s invokes a lovely sense of research as a circle. Going round and round, taking more away each time, getting to the crux of the issue and in the mean time introducing a sense fo freedom to your thoughts, opening your mind to all the new ideas. This is curiosity at it’s purest.

Philosophy: Hosken’s goes on to explain that we must recongise that we are “standing on the shoulders of giants”. That before us, the sheer amount of research and understanding of our philosophies is so huge we can’t take all that on. Rather than be intimidated by the amount of philosophical debate and theory, we must acknowlegde the 4 pillars that “underpin our philosophical categorisations: Metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics and epistomology”. In recognising and acknowledging these, we are accepting that with the help of our predecessors we can use this knowledge to take our investigations further.

Methodologies: This refers predominantely to the processes we take in researching our subject. The Qualitative and Quantative methods are greatly discussed in numerous journals and adademic research and relate to a lot of other methodologies that can be used. Quantitive data is used for more structured responses, it’s fact based, formula based, much more linear. It is incredibly useful to gain valuable and important data that is factual. It could be argued that Quantative data is more reliable and valid. Qualitative, on the other hand, is much more flexible, emotional and immersive. It is also the aspect that has intrigued me the most during my research around this subject.

Qualitative: Island (Laurel, B. (Ed) (2003)) explains how qualitative data can be obtained by immersing the consumers with a product – stepping back and letting the consumer take the product and use it as they would in their own home. In gaining this valuable insight, you are able to make appropriate changes to the design of the product that previously could have been missed. Cresswell (2012) argues that Qualitative data should be accompanied by a narrative that emerges from the analysis. It is a much more natural, descriptive, perceptive and focussed method of research supported by Cresswell. The researcher takes into account human interaction, discussions and language through participation and interviews. This view on Qualitative research is is enhanced by Plowman (Laurel, B (Ed) (2003)), who discusses how merging curiosity with methodology we gain a valuable insight into others interactions. Immersing the researcher in an other’s environment gives her a deeper look into the lives of other communities and cultures – enhancing the way we see the world from another perspective. Using this research means we are taken out of our comfort zones and encouraged to change the way we design based on the roles and lives of others. In using this Qualitative data, we arre changing the way we see our own designs and lives.

This way of working relates heavily back to Week 5’s research into design processes and my focus on learning through play. Using play as research is also an invaluable tool that immerses the designer – this methodology is often referred to as iterative Design (Zimmeran; Laurel, B (ed) (2003)). Zimmerman sees interaction as a form of research – it’s used to help evolve the product and make the necessary changes. It can’t be predicted and the outcomes may change depending on who is using the product. It becomes it’s own “form of design through the reinvention of play”. Simonsen and Hertzum take this Iterative Design to a larger scale, experimenting how this new form of design can change and evolve the way lare scale companies research the use of their products. The main issues on a larger scale, according to Simonsen and Hertzum are predominantely related to costs and budgets. But there is a need for prototypes to be used within the real world by real people.

Such thinking has demonstrated that the best ideas often emerge in participatory processes that utilize all data available and engage in a diversity of points of view

Fisher, T. (2016) Designing our way to a better world.

Overall, I believe both Quantative and Qualitative data have their places in research, and can also be used effectively alongside one another. However Qualitative data has the potential to change design in an empathetic, considered and meaningful way – changing the way we and others view design. By immersing ourselves and the consumer in the world of the design, we can gain a completely different insight into the result that Quantative data can’t achieve. We can only go so far with numbers, facts and figures before the resulting product or design becomes almost robotic.


Laurel, B. (Ed) (2003) Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. Massachusetts: MIT Press

Simonsen, J., & Hertzum, M. (2012). Sustained Participatory Design: Extending the Iterative Approach. Design Issues, 28(3), 10-21.

Fisher, T. (2016). DESIGN THINKING. In Designing Our Way to a Better World (pp. 13-19). University of Minnesota Press. 

Cresswell, J. (2014). Research Design. Qualitative, Quantitative and mixed methods approches. 4th ed. London, SAGE Publications.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s