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Open Access Experiments all the way in programmatic design research

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Experiments take various forms, have various purposes, and generate various knowledge; depending on how, when and why they are integrated in a design research study with a programmatic approach. This is what we will argue for throughout this article using examples and experiences from our now finalized Ph.D. studies. Reviewing the prevailing literature on research through design the overall argument is that design experiments play a core role both in conducting the research, in theory construction and in knowledge generation across the different design domains and methodological directions. However, we did not identify sources that explicitly discuss and operationalize roles and characteristics of design experiments in different stages of programmatic design research. The aim of this article is therefore to outline a (tentative) systematic account of roles and characteristics of design experiments. Building upon Schön’s definition of experiments in practice we propose adding to the prevailing understanding of experiments in research through design understanding and operationalizing design experiments (1) as initiators or drivers framing a research programme, (2) as ways to reflect on and mature the research programme serving as vehicles for theory construction and knowledge generation and finally (3) as a ‘designerly’ approach to the written knowledge dissemination and clarification of research contributions.
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Keywords: Ph.D. co-design examples; design experiments; experimental design research; making design theory; practice-based research; programmatic design research; research-through-design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: VIA University College 2: The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design

Publication date: December 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Intellect is honoured to be publishing its first ever open access journal, Artifact: Journal of Design Practice. Since its first publication in 2007, Artifact has focused on practice-based design research and aims to explore conditions, issues and tasks pertaining to design development in a broad sense. As an international design research journal, Artifact targets the global design research community with the aim of strengthening knowledge sharing and theory building of relevance to design practice. All articles and research notes are subject to double-blind peer-review.

    The journal is cross-disciplinary in scope and welcomes contributions from all fields of design research including product design and visual communication, user experience, interface, and service design as well as design management and organization.

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