Dear List Members
"Evidence" is not a category that exists independently of everything else. A
bloodstained carpet may be "evidence" in a murder investigation, but may
simply be inconvenient when Spring cleaning. Something BECOMES evidence in
relation to an hypotheses, and it provides additional reasons for proving or
disproving that hypotheses. Thus to activate something as evidence one must
build a narrative in which there is a role for this particular artifact
(etc). The strength of this artifact AS evidence depends on its
instrumentality in the narrative, e.g. what we claim, on the basis of the
blood-stained carpet, happened on the night of the murder. Telling a
different story, for example by the defense, may marginalize or completely
contradict the role claimed for the artifact in the first narrative.
In design, we need a narrative which situates the artifact (etc) in a
process. We need to be clear about what we think this artifact adds to our
understanding. This clarity comes from the way in which this
artifact/evidence is connected to other parts of our hypothesis. Therefore
it is not so much "what kind of object" do we have, but "what kind of
narrative" do we have. I think that means I agree with Chuck, Clive and Ken.
From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related
research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ken
Sent: 01 February 2008 23:01
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Evidence of what?
As I understood it, Dori is asking "What kinds of artifacts count as
evidence in design research?" This would mean that there is no exact
"what." The "what" is always situated within a specific research
question or a series of research questions.
At each moment, the research question for any specific inquiry
involves products and processes of different kinds. As Chris noted,
one recent survey identified over 500 journals to which research
scholars submit papers in the art and design sector. Terry Love, M P
Ranjan, Fil Salustri, and I are working on an inventory of fields and
sub-fields, disciplines and sub-disciplines in design and design
research and we're up to something like 700 different rubrics. We're
still sorting and trying to separate cognates from distinct rubrics,
but there's no question that there are many fields.
The kinds of things people might investigate in HCI are different to
those in product design engineering. Communication design,
typography, the history of type, design anthropology, user studies --
all may overlap in some studies while remaining quite different to
each other in some.
This is a general question, broad and vague. For what I understood
Dori's purposes to be, the answers here are quite useful because they
I'm sitting here next to five or six meters of running shelf-space
filled with books specifically on research methods and comparative
research methodology as well as research skills. The come from and
are applied to several fields, including about a meter of books
specifically titled in different design areas. All of these fields
fit some area of design research. Even within the fields of origin
that titles outside design represent, they are purposely general.
They grow specific when they become situated in a specific research
question. In this sense, Chuck's point is well taken and Francois's
question is worth considering. The answer emerges within any given
Take a method such as hermeneutics. You'd use it one way to determine
the meaning of an eighteenth century English commentary on
manufacturing or a French encyclopedia entry on tool or industrial
artifacts. You'd use a different approach within hermeneutics to get
at the meaning of a contemporary software artifact and how it helps
to structure social relations in an organization.
All the answers had uses, and I learned something from each of them.
It seems to me they overlap. They're a spectrum with some points of
consilience and some points of friction. The kinds of issues I raised
fit together nicely with Carl's comment on journal articles and
papers. Most of uss fit togerther with aspects of Chuck's comments
Clive's got it right -- this is an area of substantive complexity.
Each research question is a specific instance, and the for of
instantiation determines the method that best suits the problem.
This, in turn, determines the forms of evidence.
Francois-Xavier Nsenga wrote:
"EVIDENCE OF WHAT, to begin with?"
Chuck Burnette wrote:
"We need to be careful not to let research on design focus on things
that are not situated and unclear regarding interpretive intent."