How to use a prototype in research

How to do a design PhD

What is an experimental prototype?
There is a sense in which all prototypes have an experimental purpose, since they are made to instantiate some features of an artifact that does not yet exist.

However, there is a useful distinction to be made between prototypes in practice and prototypes for research purposes. The latter would be ones that aren’t intended to address a problem directly, but instead to learn more about some general principles that could apply not only to the current problem, but also to others.

Research in Design Practice vs Research for New Knowledge

Design research methods
In all of our projects, we use design research methods involving iterative prototyping–sometimes experimental, and occasionally provocative. We often also do user testing. Finally, for projects where we are developing new theories, we typically use grounded theory creation, following the method by Glaser and Strauss of constant comparison.

Why design concepts?
We are an emerging group of researchers who share a belief that design practice could benefit from better models of abstract concepts. For example, we hear a lot about opinions in the news, but, from the design perspective, what is an opinion? How can we help people form, change, or strengthen their opinions?