Professional doctorate research methodologies: new possibilities from beyond the social sciences

Chynoweth, P 2014, Professional doctorate research methodologies: new possibilities from beyond the social sciences , in: 4th International Conference on Professional Doctorates, 10 - 11 April 2014, Cardiff, UK.

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The methodological approaches used by professional doctorate students often mirror those used by full-time academics within their fields of study. Costley & Armsby (2007) found that these are often dominated by a narrow range of social science approaches and argue that alternative techniques could usefully be developed for use specifically in a practitioner research context. This paper argues that different styles of practitioner research have different objectives, and that not all are adequately served by research approaches drawn from the social sciences. Indeed, the dominance of social science approaches within the professional doctorate academic community may betray a restricted view of what can potentially constitute valid research, and a lack of awareness of other possibilities. Using a synthesis of the two models articulated separately by Frayling (1993) and Archer (1995) in an art and design context the paper explores the distinction between three styles of practitioner research, namely that which is undertaken into practice, for practice, and through practice. It equates the former approach with research in the sciences, including the social sciences, but suggests that the two alternative approaches – research for and through practice - are likely to be more appropriate for insider practitioner researchers undertaking professional doctorates. Both of these alternative approaches are seen to free the researcher of the retrospective, description-driven analysis of what Simon (1969) refers to as the explanatory sciences. Instead, in drawing on Simon’s alternative notion of the design sciences, they encourage the researcher to look to the future, and to design and develop solutions to real world problems that are capable of implementation in practice. The paper goes on to distinguish research for and through practice and to identify the nature of the respective methodological approaches that are appropriate for each.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Themes: Built and Human Environment
Health and Wellbeing
Media, Digital Technology and the Creative Economy
Memory, Text and Place
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Professional Doctorates
Publisher: UK Council for Graduate Education
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr Paul Chynoweth
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2014 09:59
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2017 05:37
References: Archer, B. (1995) ‘The Nature of Research’, Co-design: the interdisciplinary journal of design and contextual studies, January 1995, pp. 6 – 13. Argyris, C., Putnam, R. & McLain Smith, D. (1985) Action Science: Concepts, Methods and Skills for Research and Intervention, San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Costley, C. & Armsby, P. (2007) ‘Research influences on a professional doctorate’, Research in Post-Compulsory Education, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 343 - 355. Cronen, V. (2001) ‘Practical theory, practical art, and the pragmatic-systemic account of inquiry’, Communication Theory, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 14 - 35. Dewey, J. (1931) ‘The development of American pragmatism’, in H.S. Thayer (Ed) (1989) Pragmatism: The Classic Writings, pp. 23 – 40, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co. Frayling, C. (1993) Research in Art and Design, Royal College of Art Research Papers, Vol. 1, No. 1. Goldkuhl, G. (2012) ‘From action research to practice research’, Australasian Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 57 - 78. March, S. T. & Smith, G. F. (1995) ‘Design and natural science research on information technology’, Decision Support Systems, Vol. 15, pp. 251 – 266. Metcalfe, M. (2008) ‘Pragmatic inquiry’, Journal of the Operational Research Society, Vol. 59, pp. 1091 - 1099. OECD (2002) Frascati Manual: Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development, Paris, France: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Simon, H.A. (1969) The Sciences of the Artificial, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner, London: Temple-Smith. Stevenson, C. (2008) ‘Practical inquiry / theory in nursing’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 196 - 203. van Aken, J. E. (2004) ‘Management Research Based on the Paradigm of the Design Sciences: The Quest for Field-Tested and Grounded Technological Rules’, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 219 – 246.

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