Dear Chris and Colleagues,
In response to Elizabeth's reframed post, you close yours with the
"This business of contribution seems to be the key to doctoral research
in design. You cannot ask the question every week but at certain points
in the project, at least once each year, the supervisor needs to ask the
student to rethink and reframe their idea of what the contribution to
knowledge will be and why it has changed from their previous idea. One
of the reasons for this is the very openness that I have indicated, we
can have no fixed assumptions about the kind of thing we will produce,
but rethinking that question is a most valuable practise."
May I interpret that the term "contribution" stands here for PERTINENCE?
Pertinence that needs to be sustained, reassessed, and monitored
throughout frequent checks both by the research supervisor and by the
institution program officers.
If so, EVIDENCE of any research endeavor would then be evidence of
PERTINENCE, instead of, as Elizabeth has made it more explicit, evidence
of the mere form of the artifact used to convey the researcher's
We all agree indeed that there are multitudes of possible artifacts into
which design research results can be embodied and presented. I guess the
preferred presentation format will much depend on the type of knowledge
(as related to anyone of the 700 + design subfields), on personal
aptitudes and inclinations, on the targeted audience, and on respective
research community conventions and 'formal' requirements.
In my understanding then, these innumerable artifacts are much of
evidence of the quality and quantity of work done by the researcher, as
in the case of the student you supervised a while ago. Some of those
artifacts may however not necessarily constitute a valuable
"contribution to knowledge", pertinent to the Design field and/or