Responding to the Indeterminacy of Doctoral Research in Design

Meredith Davis*, Luke Feast, Jodi Forlizzi, Ken Friedman, Ali Ilhan, Wendy Ju, Gerd Kortuem, Maria Hellström Reimer, Carlos Teixeira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


The Future of Design Education working group on doctoral education included doctoral supervisors from nine programs around the world and addressed the indeterminacy of standards for the PhD in Design. Internationally, “contributions to knowledge” under the PhD degree title range from evidence-based investigations documented in a dissertation to personal reflections on making artifacts. In some programs, quantitative and qualitative research methods are taught; in others, there is no instruction in methods. The working group suggested that reflection on one's own creative production is the role of the professional master's degree and recommended standards for two doctoral programs—the PhD and the Doctor of Design (DDes). The group defined the PhD as addressing unresolved problems with the goal of generalizable knowledge or theory for the field. It described the DDes as a professional practice degree in which research is done in a practice setting to frame a specific opportunity space, guide in-process design decisions, or evaluate outcomes. DDes findings do not claim generalizability and result in “cases.” The working group discussed methods, sampling, standards of evidence and claims, ethics, research writing, and program management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-307
Number of pages25
JournalShe Ji
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Design knowledge
  • Design research
  • Doctor of Design
  • Doctoral education
  • PhD in Design
  • Practice-based research


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