The Design Process Part 2

Research and a research methodology
Research is the systematic investigation into and study of a subject in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. A research methodology is a planned approach to research using methods suitable to the particular field of study. Ian Noble and Russell Bestley, authors of ‘Visual Research’, state that ‘research is an intrinsic aspect of design practice…predicated upon the notion of questioning’. Design educator and writer Jorge Frascara extends this idea further by suggesting that ‘the design of the research method and the design of the design method are tasks of a higher order than the design of the communications.’

Primary research sources
A primary source is a first-hand account of the subject under investigation. The term is intentionally exclusive and indicates that the work has not undergone subsequent analysis and interpretation. Primary sources provide the evidence for further research. In business, a primary research source is often customised research, tailored to a particular need and where specific feedback is required. Information about a target group can be gained through focus groups or surveys. A focus group might be asked about website functionality; demand for a proposed service; or their attitude to the price of a product.

Primary sources of research include: interviews; surveys; questionnaires; correspondence with experts; official memos; manuscripts; focus groups; market research; web-logs (blogs); emails; message boards; chat room threads; workshops; seminars; symposia; lectures; speeches; visits; exhibitions; museums; brainstorming; lateral thinking; specialist collections; specialist libraries; experiments/investigations; mood boards; memoirs; autobiographies; official records; research agencies statistical organisations; government agencies; minutes of meetings special reports; photographs; audio recordings; literature/fiction; research data; statistics; scholarly papers; scientific experiments; existing artefacts; microfiche data; databases; search engines; videos; bibliographies; dictionaries; thesauri; anthologies; books of records; archives; opinions; pamphlets; personal narratives; specialist societies; maps; trend analysis; demographics; ethnographies; field work; court records; personal experience; eyewitness accounts ratings; performances/events; chronologies; monographs; charts/graphs; tables; facts; census data; opinion polls; and tweets.

Secondary research sources
A secondary source is one that analyses or interprets a primary source. Secondary sources will cite the original sources. Secondary sources often provide the groundwork that informs primary research for example, prior knowledge of demographics can identify gaps in the research that fieldwork could address. Secondary research sources include: other’s research; journals; newspapers; magazines/books; television; videos; CDs; DVDs; published material; critiques; reviews; treatises; critical essays; periodicals; scholarly papers; text books; encyclopaedias; census data analysis