Thanks for your comments (which deserve a few more comments in reply). Yes,
my programme of PhD research and the subsequent thesis did follow a basic
structure of review, do, analyse, write-up. And yes, the product design
work was included as a means to an end (revealing intricacies of designing)
rather than the end itself. When I started the research in 1995, there
wasn't the healthy discussion that there is now and as a consequence the
research programme was structured with understandable caution. Since then
things have moved on. I have no problem envisaging PhD work where the
practical design work IS the PhD, so long as the work and its contribution
to knowledge (assuming there is one and that it's judged to be of
signifcance, that's the overriding point after all) is communicated
effectively. Hey, I'd like to do some of this work myself!
> I will appreciate a site URL where I can see more of your text or, If you
> have submitted it to University Microfilms in Michigan (Dissertation
> Abstracts International), the reference number and the bibliographic data
> so that I can request a copy from them.
Loughborough University should have sorted out the abstracting. A copy of
the thesis was produced for the British Library to be put onto microfilm and
the thesis should, eventually, be indexed on www.theses.com, although I
haven't be involved in the submission process.
> In my dissertation, I also studied practices (best practices in facility
> programming or benchmarking facility programming practices) but I do not
> perceive it as a practice-based thesis. The pracitices were the object of
> study, but the method was scientific (however, not positivist).
My understanding of a practice-based design PhD is this. The research
program will see the researcher involved in a design exercise (of whatever
length) that is integral to the study. That's important- the researcher
gets involved in designing. Remove the designing and the study either
cannot be completed satisfactorily or cannot be contemplated at all. Of
course, what you mean by a design exercise is up for debate. After all,
structuring a PhD is a design exercise. I'm talking here though of
designing that results in some kind of useful, tangible outcome such as an
artefact, an exhibition, a CAD model. The designing will probably take a
fair chunk of a three-year PhD. Where you draw the line on what constitutes
a 'design exercise' and what it is you design will be determined by the
objectives of the study and your own capabilities as a designer-researcher.
The principles remain though and allow for acres of scope. Furthermore,
there's no need at this level of discussion to align practice-based PhD work
with scientific method or phenemonlogical enquiry. Both can be relevant, it
just depends on individual cases.
Dr Owain Pedgley
R&D Industrial Designer, Sports SET Network
The University of Sheffield
+44 (0)114 2227770