Daily Reflection 08: Thoughts on Design Methods

This week revolved entirely around my trip to Gothenburg to present my research topic at a small internal conference of researchers in the Fine, Applied and Performing Arts from Gothenburg University. It was a great chance to see another part of the country, get introduced to some of my new colleagues, but most importantly, to think critically about my research topic.

Aside from the great benefit of receiving feedback from a diverse and experienced group of researchers, I also came away with a strong desire to find a solid direction. In crafting my presentation, I tried to draw a very broad, yet clear representation of what got me here. Up there, talking through things, I felt like I was explaining a lot of fluff. Why is this? I don’t believe I have clearly defined or articulated what my research focus is. Up until now I have talked a lot about “design methods.” The problem is, design methods is itself extremely broad and I can honestly say that I am not sure I knew what I meant by design methods. Since I began working on design methods in my graduate thesis I have been grappling with a definition, or distinction between methods and tools. Unfortunately, I think I left the matter unresolved in my thesis and it has clearly followed me here.

Of course, I continue to feel that these are good realizations to have now. However, they are matters I believe that I should already have a grasp on. With the feedback I received from the audience, and a few conversations with some other colleagues dealing with very similar issues, I feel like I already have a better understanding of design methods — or at least what aren’t design methods. I am looking forward to next week when I will have a chance to methodically work through some of these issues.