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Design research by practice: modes of writing in a recent Ph.D. from the RCA

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How do Design by Practice Ph.D. students occupy the territory of the Humanities Ph.D. thesis? This article, based on an analysis of a Design by Practice thesis, puts forward one answer to the question. It describes a project in which the voice, style, genre and structure were able to emerge from the particular nature and thinking of a design project. It is written by an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) coordinator, in collaboration with the author of the thesis, who contributed visual and written extracts.

The article emerges from one element of an RCA T/L fellowship (2006) that explored practice research culture from an English for Academic Purposes' (EAP) standpoint. The analysis has developed from earlier work on the academic culture of writing which advocated working from student writing exemplars, rather than from received models of writing.

The aim of this article is not to put forward a fixed model of thesis writing but to emphasize principles that give rise to diverse writing outcomes. A celebration of heterogeneity then, that, through design practice, incorporates the orthodox beside the radical.
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Keywords: Design by Practice Ph.D; design modes; intuition; organic framework; thesis writing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Royal College of Art.

Publication date: 2007-12-14

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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