Structuring the process of design research - A necessary step towards ensuring scientific rigor

DS 75-2: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.2: Design Theory and Research Methodology, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Horvath, Imre
Series: ICED
Institution: Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, The
Page(s): 053-062
ISBN: 978-1-904670-45-2
ISSN: 2220-4334


Almost every researcher is aware of less successful or even failed Ph.D. research projects or contracted industrial research projects. In most of these cases, there are methodological, structural and procedural reasons in the background. In this paper I argue that research projects need to be decomposed into procedural units and these procedural units should be complete from a methodological as well as from an epistemological point of view. The concept of research cycle has been considered as a practical manifestation of these procedural units. A research cycle comprises a part in which intelligence for generating a new theory is attained and a part in which the new theory is scrutinized by applying critical thinking. These parts can be transformed into a sequence of stages, having their own objectives. The activity elements of these stages are explained in the paper. The proposed approach enhances objectivity, reproducibility, rational scrutiny, empirical testability, reliability of theories, as well as justification and validity. The benefits of applying this approach have been observed in more than ten Ph.D. research projects and twenty graduation projects so far.

Keywords: Systematic design research, procedural structuring, methodological framing, research in design context, design inclusive research, operative design research, research cycles, research methods


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