The seminar was positioned by Anne Spaa.
Zimmerman et al. emphasises the need for research through design to find its own format for scientific research, focusing on 3 requirements (let go of developing novel theories, be upfront about the goals and problems of a research project, and critically reflect on the ‘how’ of design) for the field to develop. In contrast, Gaver suggests that design has no need to adapt as it might rid the area of its diversity, resulting in a single-perspective practice. Design is generative, the problems faced are ever-changing, therefore it might not be possible to be upfront about the problems and outcomes of a design research project.
Both papers state the need for a form of theory in design, a core to build on – Gaver would look for patterns as they appear, while Zimmerman et al. would choose the methodology ahead of time. Gaver would also prefer that each piece of research defines the basics each time, whereas Zimmerman et al. would like to build on pre-existing knowledge. This was reflected in the structure of the papers, with Gaver providing context to design research that was appreciated by our students, unlike Zimmerman et al. where knowledge of design is assumed.
Students agreed with Gaver in that flexibility is needed in design – design is influenced from other areas and so can’t fit into one methodology like Zimmerman et al. suggest, however it was noted that it is important to define what is flexible and what is structured about your RtD process. Students also questioned what the issue with legitimacy in design research is – our collaboration with other disciplines makes us “Drunken Monkey Masters” where we adapt to the best research method, which perhaps provides its own validity. It was concluded that having multiple evaluation and validation points during the research process will help legitimise it, as the outcome is not always immediate
Gaver, W. (2012). What Should We Expect From Research Through Design ? In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 937–946). ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2207676.2208538
Zimmerman, J., Stolterman, E., & Forlizzi, J. (2010). An Analysis and Critique of Research through Design: towards a formalization of a research approach. In DIS 2010 – Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 310–319). Aarhus Denmark: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/1858171.1858228
⭐⭐⭐⭐(3.8/5) Gaver, W. (2012). What Should We Expect From Research Through Design
⭐⭐⭐(3.3/5) Zimmerman, J., Stolterman, E., & Forlizzi, J. (2010). An Analysis and Critique of Research through Design