C. Research Methods

Research is a highly instrumental component of any task which should be completed consistently across its’ development. The understanding that “the purpose of research is to inform actions” (Unite for Sight 2015) can be observed within a multitude of circumstances. Spanning from simplistic behavioural properties, humankind has long been using primal research methods in order to develop themselves as a specie. This concept has been implemented within the realm of education whereby students re-contexualise their findings and thus, expand the implications of original data.

Research as a process must be iterative and cyclical (Unite for Sight 2015) in order for it to in turn be transformative and thorough. Varying research methods allow this to occur and ultimately dictate the perspective from which certain topics are ascertained.

Upon beginning the design brief, our group generated a list of methods from which we would draw upon as a means of gathering primary and secondary information to inform our proceeding actions. Though successful research can be considered somewhat serendipitous, (The University of Western Australia 2012) the pragmatic stigma that constitutes the highest quality of information can be accounted for by the methods chosen in relation to the desired outcome.      

Observation is a systematic data collection approach (Cohen D, Crabtree B 2006) which takes place on site and is subjective to the participants’ sensory experiences. This method initiated the data collection process for our design brief as it allowed us to obtain contextual data which would ultimately form the basis of our outcome. Observation allowed us to accurately locate the issue at hand within the constraints of UTS Housing and enabled us to locate physical points of intervention for our outcome.

Literature reviews inherently consider the stance of others on a particular topic, from which, readers would deduct their own perspectives and apply this newfound knowledge to their individual projects. This method therefore effectively informed us about organic waste and the psycho-analytic use of technology as we were able to use statistics and facts to support our arguments.

Mapping the existing Organic Waste systems in place at UTS was a highly effective research method for this task as it enabled us to identify influencing factors such as infrastructure and stakeholders. It also allowed us to visualise the acquisition and disposal processes used by students living in UTS housing in order for us to determine points of intervention.



In addition to this, surveying students allowed us to generate “real world observations” (Kelley et al. 2003) from a predetermined set of students. This was especially helpful as we were able to gain insights from our target users in order to adequately tailor our design solution to their needs. Furthermore, when completed correctly, surveying allows researchers to obtain data from a “representative sample” (Kelley et al. 2003) which can be generalised to a greater population in order to increase efficiency in workflow and expand the breadth from which information is obtained.


In summary, research is a crucial stage in any design process. Varying research methods also affect the type of data that is collected and how it can be used. This knowledge was highly useful to our group as we were able to identify research methods that would be most beneficial to our process, desired outcome and targeted users.

Reference List:

Unite for Sight 2015, Module 6: The Importance of Research, Connecticut, viewed 13 June 2017, <http://www.uniteforsight.org/research-methodology/module6>.

The University of Western Australia 2012, The importance of academic research, Perth, viewed 13 June 2017, <http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201203194542/vice-chancellor/importance-academic-research>.

Cohen D, Crabtree B 2006, Qualitative Research Guidelines Project: Observation, New Jersey, viewed 13 June, <http://www.qualres.org/HomeObse-3594.html>.

Kelley, K., Clark, B., Brown, V. & Sitzia, J. 2003, ‘Good practice in the conduct and reporting of survey research’, International Journal for Quality in Health Care, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 261-6.

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