Research Process for Designers

Diagram showing the steps of the scientific me...

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Research Process

The terms “undergraduate research” may sound rather mysterious when applied to the areas of art or design. General research areas in the Arts may include topics within Art History, Gallery Management, and Art Education. In the Studio Arts, research may mean exploring new forms of expression, new media design, technology and the arts, original explorations in style and aesthetics, or new individual developments in visual narrative. Research areas in Graphic Design may include theories of visual communication, persuasion and advertising or applying the techniques of graphic design for the purposes of addressing and proposing solutions to a social, political, environmental, economic, etc. problem.

An established process of working through these, and other topics, in the arts is through consistent development of a concentrated body of focused work. It typically incorporates and combines working strategies from the Creative Process with those of the traditional Scientific Method. This method of working results in a series of discoveries, which, leads to new decisions, new forms, new shapes or new research.


  • to enlighten
  • to inform
  • to shed new “light”
  • to add to an accepted existing body of knowledge
  • to test theories
  • to gain an informed opinion
  • to organize
  • to learn

scientific method benchmarks:

  • Thesis
  • Experiment
  • Revise
  • Experiment
  • Conclude

design process benchmarks:

  • Research
  • Thumbnails
  •               evaluate
  • Roughs
  •               evaluate
  • Comps
  •               evaluate
  • Final Presentation

writing process benchmarks:

  • Proposal
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Thesis paragraph (abstract)
  • First draft
  • Peer review
  • Individual conferences with professor
  • Class Presentation
  • Final draft
  • NCUR presentation
  • PURCC presentation

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