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PhD Principles and Methods of Design Research

Credit Hours


This course surveys a range of research methods from different scientific traditions including science, social science, engineering, and design.

Through a deep reading of monographs (dissertations that have been published as books) from the social sciences and design fields, the following approaches will be discussed: experimental vs. field research, inductive vs. deductive reasoning, positivist vs. grounded theory traditions, quantitative vs. qualitative research, comparative vs. longitudinal studies, descriptive vs. generative methods, and method-driven vs. question-driven research, as well as the combination of these traditions into mixed methods, approaches. For example, what counts as data? How is it collected and analyzed? What is the overall purpose of the research in these various traditions and how are contributions made and measured?

Learning Objectives

Students will become familiar with key methodological approaches from science, social science, engineering and design in order to provide a strong basis for their individual research. Emphasis is placed on surveying different methodological traditions in order to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will become familiar with research methods from different scholarly traditions
  • Students will develop their own perspective on the methodological approach that they may pursue in their individual research
  • Students will gain exposure to previous doctoral research, including its strengths and weaknesses