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  • Richard Herriott

Research through design: quality considerations

Prochner, I., & Godin, D. (2022). Quality in research through design projects: Recommendations for evaluation and enhancement. Design Studies, 78, 101061. Tag: design research method, research through design.

“There is no consensus on how to judge the quality of research through design projects (RtD) which makes them difficult to plan and to evaluate,” begin Prochner and Godin (p.1). To remedy this is the authors created a framework for quality assessment based on a study of 25 RtD projects. They envision design researchers can analyze work with the framework in mind and its quality indicators. There´s a handy precis of quality indicators from other research traditions:

Positivist and post-positivists look for replicability, internal and external validity, objectivity and reliability. Constructivists seek credibility, transferability, confirmability and dependability (p.2).

According to the authors, RtD can draw on both of these. They note that Dixon (2020) can align with the pragmatist paradigm or many (a welter of references appear on p.2). While design does straddle a lot of potential areas of interest e.g. sociology, psychology, material science, theory at various levels of abstraction.

Rather worryingly (I think) they write “… it might not be possible for design knowledge to be based on practice to always meet criteria that other types of knowledge are readily judged upon” (p.3). This sentence appears one page on from “Cross asserts that the design research community has to be ‘able to demonstrate that standards of rigor in their intellectual community at least match those of other research communities’” (p.2).

For those in a hurry, see p.8 which has a table “Framework of research quality indicators and their categories”: traceability; interconnectivity; applicability, impartiality and reasonableness.

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