I want to reframe my question as "What FORM does design research take as
an artifact to communicate/convey its knowledge?"
-- as Ranjan articulates that what is represented is just the tip of the
iceberg in terms of what is known.
-- as Clive, Chuck, Ken, and Micheal articulates, that it takes the form a
narrative (descriptive) regarding the answers to specific research
questions, the approach you took to answer them, and the context of the
question and answer related to others. This does lead to a question as to
the descriptive versus prescriptive balance in design research.
Is there a genre of expression, which is given a form and title, that
embodies the ideal expression of design research knowledge?
Is it as Carl proposes the academic article?
Is it the patent as David proposes? David, you make me want to revise the
artifact for industrial design (practice) from the prototype to the patent
or at least the patented prototype because the patent more closely
represents the ideal form in that it demonstrates originality, the
potential for marketability, and is rewarded by industry. My friends who
work in R&D labs are all rewarded by the number of patents they have.
Or is it as Chris proposes that the community and its practices are so
varied that there is no ideal artifact?
For example, the ethnographic monograph is the genre of expression that
embodied the ideal form of cultural anthropological knowledge. You can
critique and oppose the form as many have done (Behar 1995, Clifford and
Marcus 1986, Driessen 1993, Ellis and Bochner 1996, Geertz 1988, Strathern
1987) but you are required to engage with it as a professional
As I briefly and according to Clive <smile>, simplistically state, the
poster is that ideal form of expression for graphic design (Kauffer 1924,
Mendell 2001, Richard 1971). In the same way, you can be a book designer
or critique the poster form, but you have to engage with the poster as the
expression of graphic design skill and recognition. Meaning if as a
graphic designer you are to be exhibited in a museum, it is most likely to
be your posters that are the objects of the exhibition. When you compete
for design promotion as in AIGA's Sharing Dreams, Inequality Matters, or
Get Out the Vote, you will produce a poster. In your graphic design
courses, you will be asked to make posters. Yes, you will be asked to
produce logos, informational diagrams, but most of the critiques happen
What is the "poster" or "ethnographic monograph" of design research? Does
it really not have one? Why is that? What does that MEAN in both a
positive and negative sense for the field?
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