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23 MARCH 2013

Creativity is key to successful completion of design researcher PhDs

"DESIGNERS ENJOY DESIGNING
The practicalities of the design–based Ph.D (or Ph.D's generally in the creative arts) often fails to recognise the wider needs of the researcher who would typically have bachelors and masters degrees in their field and where the structure of their degree programme(s) would have been practice–based i.e. they have considerable prior history of creative practice; they enjoy creative practice; and they may well miss the fulfilment of creative practice if none was undertaken during a three to five year full time Ph.D.

STUDENTS NEED TUTORS THAT CAN DESIGN
Practice–based learning at undergraduate and masters level requires a significant taught input by competent practitioners. It is all too common for academics to loose or fail to develop capability in practice as they move through an academic career that is based on teaching and research. The typical route by which full–time academics with a practitioner background acquire a Ph.D is through part–time study. In order to maintain competence as a practitioner for the benefit of students, there is a case to encourage the use of practice in staff Ph.D's.

RESEARCH OUTCOMES NEED DESIGNING
An unexpected outcome from the author's experience of Ph.D supervision in creative disciplines has been the scenario where professional practice was necessary for the progress of the research. 'Tools' are a popular and relevant outcome from design–based Ph.D's and situations arise where the tool itself must be designed in order to facilitate its validation. It is therefore necessary to consider the use of researcher–practice where practice is not a direct means of the data collection but a process by which research outcomes can progress to validation."

(Mark Evans, p.75, 2009)

Evans, M. (2009). "Creative professional practice in methods and methodology: case study examples from Ph.D's in industrial design". EKSIG 2009: Experiential Knowledge, Method & Methodology, Experiential Knowledge Special Interest Group.

TAGS

2009 • academic career • capability in practice • competence as a practitioner • competent practitioners • creative arts • creative disciplines • creative motivationcreative practicecreativitydata collection techniquesdesign researcher • design-based PhD • design-based researchdesignersEKSIG • engaging in practice • industrial design • interviewing practitioners • Mark Evans • motivation • needs of the researcher • PhD studentsPhD supervision • practice for data collection • practitioner background • professional practice • research outcomes • researcher-practice • successful completion • teaching and research • tutors that can design • underlying motivation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 JULY 2011

The creative writing exegesis sets off on its own trajectory: from reflective text, to parallel text, to plaited text

"The reflective journal exegesis, with its this–is–how–I–wrote–my–creative–piece approach, was soon deemed unexciting by creative writing candidates, supervisors and examiners. In the early 2000s, research scholars who had risen above questions like What is an exegesis? and Why do I have to do one? sought to achieve more with the exegesis form. They and their supervisors discussed the aims and focus of the exegesis and its orientation to the creative product (see dozens of articles in TEXT and, e.g. Fletcher & Mann 2004). The discussion questioned and attacked the exegesis, and also the gap between it and the artefact. This lent impetus to exploratory experimentation.

Departures from the reflective journal exegesis included the exegesis in the form of an essay providing a conceptual or historical framework – a mini–dissertation of the style familiar as submission for disciplines such as Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, History, Sociology or Philosophy – i.e. a prose work that swapped the tradition of the Creative Arts journal for traditions of academic writing in other Humanities disciplines. In this parallel text, the candidate might be seen to stop being creative writer, becoming instead the more disengaged and critical humanities academic. However, Butt takes an opposite view on this. She thinks, in examining the impact of outside influences on the writer and the writing, the parallel text 'is a conscious reflection of the largely unconscious act of writing' (Butt 2009: 55).

There's a schizophrenia apparent in this situation. The researching writer, trying to be creative writer, is forced back to the role of critic distanced from the process, as opposed to being critic inside the process. The exegesis here wasn't something home–grown in the Creative Writing discipline – it was an imposition from contextualising, 'more authoritative' disciplines – but was an initial extending of the umbilical cord between artefact and exegesis because it allowed the exegesis to be a parallel commentary with an implied relationship to the artefact, suggesting an added or alternative outcome to the research undertaken in writing the creative product. This raised the status of the exegesis from servant–to–the–master narrative to a sort of equal, to a narrative in its own right. An example of this is Nike Bourke's The Bone Flute – From the cradle to the grave (Bourke 2003), where the novel told a disturbing story about domestic violence and infanticide, and the exegesis was a study of infanticide in contemporary society.

In the early 2000s there was plenty of room for experimentation. In this context, two of my own candidates tested the idea of parallel texts brought together and plaited in the submission structure. Peter Wise, in The Turns of Engagement: A Thesis / Novel on the Circumstances of Writing (2001), presented exegesis and creative narrative as alternating, mirror–image, theory–then–fiction–then–theory chapters which blended together progressively until creative product chapters became, eventually, indistinguishable from dissertation chapters (Wise 2001). Wise's submission performed the evolution of fictocriticism, the creation of the thesis–slash–novel. It had a hard time passing examination in 2001.

In 2005, another student of mine, Marilynn Loveless, produced Mrs Shakespeare: Muse, Mother, Matriarch, Madonna, Whore, Writer, Woman, Wife – Recovering a Lost Life (2005). At Loveless's graduation, the Acting Dean refused to read out the title of her PhD; perhaps he considered it un–academic. The submission involved the chapters of a novel revealing Anne Hathaway as the real writer of Shakespeare's canon being alternated with the chapters of an exegesis about male–dominated discourse in the academy (Loveless 2005). Here the plaited texts worked off each other and created their own dialogue; Loveless's discontinuous narrative was about reading the gap between exegesis and artefact, and analysing it.

There's much to learn from the idea of the exegesis and artefact as plaited text. Barthes insisted on the death of the author because the exegetical wasn't present. He asserted that because the writer wasn't present in the work, the reader must alone create the work. But the creative writing doctorate's combination of creative product and exegesis insists on the writer's presence. The plaited text, in showing both the product and aspects of the process or its context, asserts the existence of the author."

(Nigel Krauth)

Krauth, N. (2011). "Evolution of the exegesis: the radical trajectory of the creative writing doctorate in Australia." TEXT 15(1).

TAGS

academic writing • act of writing • conceptual frameworkcreative arts • creative narrative • creative product • creative writer • creative writing • critical humanities academic • cultural studiesdeath of the authordissertation • doctorate • exegesis • exegesis form • exegetical • experimentationexploratory experimentation • fictocriticism • historical framework • historyhumanitiesliterary studies • narrative in its own right • Nigel Krauthnovelparallel textPhD candidatePhD supervisionphilosophy • plait • plaited • plaited text • prose • reflective journal • reflective journal exegesis • reflective text • researchresearch artefactRoland Barthessociology • submission structure • TEXT (journal) • the reader must alone create the work • thesiswriterwriting

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
31 MAY 2011

Majority of contemporary practice-based design PhDs use methodological bricolage

"A recent analysis of doctorates in design has identified four common characteristics of research approaches found in the exploration of practice–based design research questions [1]. They are: 1) a 'bricolage' approach to research design, 2) reflective practices, 3) the use of visual approaches and 4) thesis–structural innovation. These characteristics have been derived from an examination of a range of design theses and using a number of design research frameworks [2–4] to identify the epistemological and methodological models applied. This paper has chosen to focus on one of the four characteristics, the bricolage approach to method construction, as it is seen to be a common feature evident in all six studies. The bricolage method consists of combining methods from the social sciences, humanities, and hard sciences to derive a suitable model of inquiry.

While we acknowledge that design research investigates different issues that require studies into a range of subject areas such as the material, historical, scientific, social and psychological, the focus of this paper is the exploration of research questions derived from practice–based questions. In other words, it focuses on design activities that are used to generate new knowledge and understanding in and of itself.

We posit that the adoption of methodological bricolage is a necessity in design research due to the indeterminate nature of design. ...

Although Levi–Strauss introduced the concept of bricolage as a mode of acquiring knowledge, it was Denzin and Lincoln's [23] articulation of it within a methodological context that offered insight into new forms of rigour and complexity in social research. Nelson, Treichler and Grossberg describe bricolage (in the context of cultural studies methodology) as reflecting a choice of practice that is pragmatic, strategic and self–reflexive [24]. While Kincheloe [25] uses the term to describe multi–perspectival research methods, not just as the usage of mixed methods but to acknowledge that using methods from different disciplines enables the researcher to compare and contrast multiple points of view. Just as designed objects have prescribed affordances, methods automatically imply ontological and epistemological affordances. This relationship between inquiry and method affords design a useful indeterminacy, where not–knowing becomes a constructive loop that the bricoleur appears to be exploiting. As questions arise so methods to answer them are sought, abstracting platforms for design knowledge rather than concrete answers. Bricolage is a useful and necessary concept for design researchers as it allows them to deploy available and established strategies and methods, but also grants them the license to create new tools and techniques in order to address questions that are beyond the realm of the established discipline. Methodological bricolage permits the researcher to look at the problem we have with problems, as well as their solution. The bricoleur views research methods actively, rather than passively, meaning that the researcher actively constructs methods with tools at hand rather than accepting and using pre–existing methodologies [26]."

(Joyce S R Yee and Craig Bremner, 2011)

Fig.1 Danae Colomer, Gazpacho video portion of Food as Opera project.

2). Yee, J. S. R. and C. Bremner (2011). Methodological Bricolage – What does it tell us about Design? Doctoral Education in Design Conference. Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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TAGS

abstract knowledge • abstracting platforms for design knowledge • academic norm • academic studies • anthropological sense • bricolage • bricolage approach • bricolage method • bricoleur • Cary Nelson • case studiesClaude Levi-Strauss • complexity in social research • concrete answers • concrete knowledge • constructive loop • creative fiddler • creative tinkerer • cultural studies methodologydesign discipline • design PhDs • design researchdesign research approachesdesign researcherdesignerdisciplinary knowledge • doctoral studies • engineer • epistemological affordances • established research methodologies • established research methodsestablished research strategies • Joe Kincheloe • Lawrence Grossberg • making-do • methodological bricolage • methodological contextmethodologiesmixed methodsmodel of enquiry • modes of acquiring knowledge • multi-perspectival research methods • multiperspectival • multiple points of view • new forms of rigour • new objects • new tools and techniques • Norman Denzin • not-knowing • ontological affordances • Paula Treichler • PhDPhD supervision • pick and mix • practice-based • practice-based design PhDs • practice-based researchresearch designresearch methodsresearch modelresearcher • Savage Mind • select and apply • social research • spontaneous creative act • the scientific mind • tools at hand • useful indeterminacy • whatever is available • Yvonna Lincoln

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 MARCH 2011

PhD pedagogy and the changing knowledge landscapes of universities

"At the level of form and content of the knowledge produced in postgraduates' work, the supervisor, whose intellectual roots are frequently based in a singular domain characterised by horizontal knowledge structures, must acquire principles that enable them to understand the students' research problems in terms of a vertical or hierarchical knowledge structure. For example, a student may wish to contribute to insights in the domain of social aspects of urban design. The supervisor, who may be a sociologist, must find a means of integrating insights from sociology with its own nuanced conceptual language, with discourses from design associated with user centred design principles, at a level that is sufficient to guide the student through the processes of integration and recontextualisation. Thus vertical knowledge structures need to be employed by both supervisor and student to address the weakening classifications between sociology and design. Further, however, the hidden aspect of pedagogy here is that the supervisor must have a sufficient understanding at a generic level of what is required for the development of knowledge through integration to provide the student with the tools to accomplish this with respect to their own specific topic area. This is an area that receives very little attention in any of the discourses or literature around what is required of supervisors, and is a key area for further research on postgraduate pedagogy."

(Barbara Adkins, 2009, QUT ePrints)

Adkins, Barbara A. (2009) PhD pedagogy and the changing knowledge landscapes of universities. Higher Education Research and Development Journal, 28(2), pp. 165–177.

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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