Earlier this month, I had the chance to attend and participate in the annual Design Research symposium at UWE, Bristol. It proved to be an really good chance to hear from experts in the field, and to discuss how design outputs can be best framed for the likes of the REF. The event was organised and chaired by Jonathan Mosley, Rachel Sara, Lamine Mahdjoubi and John Harding, whom I thank for their kind invitation.
There was some excellent guidance from Professor Katie Williams about the ways in which design outputs were assessed by the 2014 panel, and of course some valuable confirmation that the same criteria apply to design as to any other form of work. That is, the research intention, rigour, originality and significance need to be clear. The panel members considering design work tended to be drawn from design backgrounds, and it was stressed were more than capable of identifying where claims of research intention was genuine.
We also heard fascinating presentations from Professor Murray Fraser and Professor Yeorgia Manolopoulou from the Bartlett, whose pioneering use of practice and design within research has been instructive and inspiring. I also hugely enjoyed hearing from Prarthana Jagannath (Superspace), whose demonstration of their research showed an amazing and forward-thinking use of digital tools and digital simulation.
All presentations from the day will be available from the UWE YouTube channel.
The presentation I gave aimed to describe the ways in which we have tried to present work in the past, through the use of portfolios. Using the work of my colleague Professor Gokay Deveci, it was possible to explore ideas about the use of portfolios, to demonstrate research intention, rigour and significance. It was also a good opportunity to present and discuss some recent award winning work by my colleague Theo Dounas, and some ongoing KTP research from Dr Marianthi Leon, each of which offer great potential in terms of practice-led and practice-based research.
Using examples from music, one must always remember that Adele has been incredibly successful in terms of records sales and BRITs, but lacks research questions. Therefore, she probably wouldn’t score very highly in the REF.
Likewise, Oasis had a massive impact on music of the 1990s, and their concert at Loch Lomond had a big effect on me personally, but the underpinning research is difficult to determine.
Therefore, possibly not great as an impact case study.
Which is a round about way of saying that the REF assesses, well, research. 🙂