research reading response

The definition of research in the broadest term is explained first. It states that research is the discovery of new knowledge by gathering of data, finding facts and information. I think this could even include the day to day normal observations of others or even the weather. We are constantly changing the way we act and think based on this kind of research to adjust to our environments.

In the scientific sense, research means going through a set of structured steps with a specific goal in mind to expand on existing knowledge. We don’t have to go in detail through the scientific method to know that science is concerned with getting as close to the “Truth” as possible. Control and independent variables are there so that scientists can compare, discuss, understand and analyze, to avoid just shooting around in the dark. They use structured techniques to quantify data and generalize results. They are focused on the measured, qualitative research to measure the incidence of various views and opinions rather than quantitative research.

In comparison what does design mean? Design’s goals are to understand systems, people, culture and products to serve human needs and wants. Designers are not experts in any particular field. They are experts in visual communication and become a pseudo specialist in the current subject that their clients happen to be in. They are dealing with people, sociology, psychology, anthropology. In other words, they are the “soft sciences.” These sciences cannot follow the scientific method. Humans are complex. Actions, behaviors, feelings and decisions cannot be controlled or isolated from each other. Here, any attempts at finding the “Truth” get turned into “well this is kinda the truth or something like it is I guess.” This is clearly quantitative research. It can be linked to some sort of measurement, some numbers, but in general it is exploratory and investigative. Findings are not conclusive and cannot be used to make generalizations about the population of interest. Designers can develop an initial understanding and stable base for future decision making.

People, paying clients in particular, want “Truths.” Design has a step by step process to problem solving but it will get nowhere near the results that come out of the scientific process. Then there is the world of creativity that we must deal with. Coming out with a great idea that can solve a problem is unpredictable. There are no steps to achieve a creative idea, it can happen anytime, anywhere. Creative, artistic people have to constantly struggle with the format of the industrial word. Ideas do not come off a conveyer belt.

We help communicate and understand things that are closer to the “Truth” than other designers. But science is just the subject matter. Just because we are not designing a brand experience to increase profits, we are still dealing with messy humans that can read a message wrong and get confused. Is scientific design closer to the hard sciences? Through a more goal orientated design problem, can we use a bigger chunk of the scientific method and come up with ground breaking discoveries ourselves?  Can art and design not just facilitate communication but actually push science forward?


5 thoughts on “research reading response

  1. You’ve expressed the many ways in which designers contribute to problem solving. However, when reading through these articles that were given to us i wondered “How can we express to the public the importance of design research?” “Can we explain that graphs and numbers are not the only way to solve a problem or support a cause?” Alison

  2. Yes the common aspect in collecting data is apparent. I think the difference comes from how much data is collected, how long it is collected, and how it is used after being collected. Some fields study their subjects in order to collect data, and some fields study the data and directly apply it to their audience. A designer could use many forms or definitions of research depending on the project, target, cost, and given resources. Time period, environment, and condition are very important in research. For example: In the early 1980’s hip-hop was primarily recognized by the urban population, but now all groups of people around the world are familiar with the genre. Charity seems to always bring forth thievery. As far as the bank situation is concerned. One might think that the people in charge may have used the people’s ignorance about banking to make a profit from the service fees. Tony Brown

    • Yes, I think the generalized results may aid in the process, but additional research will be needed to comply with current trends and behaviors. It pays to be well rounded in your knowledge and exposure o various cultures. Knowing what to or what not communicate in a multi-cultural world can be a difficult task. There can easily be a conflict in gestures, words, colors, and images. Although a positive intent may be the in the message, it may result in an offensive response. It is important to find and deliver a common equation that will educate while conveying the intended message to all that may be exposed. Research plays a huge part here with a shrinking world were everyone is connected by the click of a mouse. The good part about extensive data is that you have plenty of information to explore and examine. This will give you the capability to apply the information that best works for your project. Tony Brown

  3. Can art and design not just facilitate communication but actually push science forward? That is a really good question. I think that the answer is yes it can push science forward. I think that art and design have played a major role in moving forward. Now I’m not trying to sound too geeky or to show my age but look at the movie STAR WARS. That movie was made back in the 70″s and the art and designs of the props and effects for that film pushed us forward to try to make some of those gadgets a reality. Just look how far we have come with cell phones and robotics and artificial intelligence. Hell we could even clone a human if it were legal. I think Art and Design and Research have always worked together to push us forward. Its just a matter of how we can use art and design to better the world we live in in this period of time.

  4. I liked that you discussed truths therefore validating the fact that design is indeed a step by step process. There are indeed experiments conducted with the artists and the client. There are some variables that are changing or some remaining the same. It is not as concrete or quantitative as the “scientific experiments” and research that shows quantitative and qualitative results, but important nonetheless! Great job!

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