Science vs Design Research

There are more and more scientific endeavors that have both goals of discovery and a marketable product.  Especially with this cross-over, the idea of science being purely about “hard truths” and facts is not very accurate.  In any case, I don’t think that “finding a definitive answer is the central goal of any experimental process”.  Definitive answers are rare in advanced studies, with many variables it not usually that simple.  In almost any experiment, the number of new questions raised far outnumbers any answers.  Also, valuable information is obtained even when a hypothesis cannot be supported or rejected.  I think McAllister put it much better.  The goal is to “deliberately advance knowledge by eliminating false theories.”  I don’t think there is much comparison between design research and experimentation.  The stages are very different.  A scientist does the background research and designs the experiment, then afterward performs, analyzes, and draws conclusions using the scientific method.  The confusion seems to be with the term research being used for both the review and gathering of any data and encompassing the entire scientific experimental process.  If you look only at the process prior to experimentation, then science and product “research” are very alike.  “Design Research: What Is It and Why Do it?” by Panthea Lee did a good job of showing this.  The steps listed are applicable to any thorough preliminary investigation of a problem or project.  The data and context are different, and the “actionable format” might be the “best-guess” for testing a hypothesis, but the general ideas are the same.  I have seen very similar steps while learning about designing research.  Whenever approaching a new project, review of the current technology or knowledge, consulting with experts, and familiarity with the problem and context are very important.  The presentation of data collected in this way can be biased and confusing especially with infographics.  Making sense of it can really help with understanding, but this type of research shouldn’t be overvalued.  Background research is a valuable tool, but the goal in design is the development of a product not collection of information.
Thought I had already posted this, but I must have done something wrong.


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