A method for systematic elaboration of research phenomena in design research

Imre Horvath*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The mission of design research is to discover and investigate not or partially known phenomena, and to formulate statements concerning their manifestations and relationships with other phenomena. Identification of phenomena happens in the fuzzy front end of research projects and the early explorative phases of research cycles. In spite of their determining nature, defining and processing research phenomena happen in an intuitive manner, often resulting in complications in the conduct of research. This paper proposes a method for a systematized handling of research phenomena in design research. Systematization is done in the framework of defining a research model and devising a research design based on it. The proposed method places a phenomenon in a local world, and specifies the involved things, attributes, effects and relations. Decomposition of a complex phenomenon to constituent phenomena is facilitated by a combinatorial mechanism. The paper demonstrates the applicability of the method in a concrete case. Further research concentrates on obtaining empirical evidence concerning the use and effect of the proposed method in multi-year PhD projects.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED17)
Subtitle of host publicationDesign Theory and Research Methodology
EditorsA. Maier, S. Škec, H. Kim, M. Kokkolaras, J. Oehmen, G. Fadel, F. Salustri, M. van der Loos
PublisherThe Design Society
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-904670-95-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventICED17: 21st International Conference on Engineering Design - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017

Publication series

NumberDS 87-7
ISSN (Electronic)2220-4342




  • Design research
  • Information management
  • Phenomenon
  • Research methodologies and methods
  • Uncertainty


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