The present study undertaken within the DesignOBS project, is based on 172 PhD theses in Design submitted to the Portuguese National Design Schools between 2005 and 2019. It focuses in particular on the extraction and analysis of 522 PhD citations appended to design doctoral work. The analysis is used to observe school impact, explore the weight of previous design-focused and non-design doctoral work to develop PhD research in Design in the country. The results reveal few connections between doctorates and few overlaps in- between as well as outside design schools thus indicating poor continuity and reproducibility of domestic doctoral work, little tradition of PhD citation, and an important weight of non-design schools. A network-based visualisation of the connections between PhDs in Design within PhD thesis, by use of a citation analysis method, enabled to draw reflections on the status of domestic doctoral research in Portugal and provides an empirical approach to explore the reproducibility of this type of research which may be used in other countries.
The DesignOBS project aims to collect, map and interpret data about the Portuguese Design Ecosystem, providing more robust and reliable information that may support the creation of strategies and policies for its promotion and evolution. To operationalize the project, a three-step Design research iterative process was put in place: (1) Development of a preliminary observation process based in particular on the analysis and comparison of Design ecosystem models in use at the European level; interviews and in-loco visits with leaders of key international Design centers and the application of the reflection-action process proposed by Schön to refine the observation approach; (2) test the observation approach through its application on a preliminary and manageable case about design doctorates to create a “first portray” of the status quo of national scholarly Design research. Results showed important disparities in the number of Design theses concluded (variations of about 25% registered in different databases), and dubious quality of information. The lack of curation of the information presented in institutional databases makes it difficult to create a reliable map about Design. These results led to the development of guidelines and calls for action which were presented and discussed within the REDE community (national Design schools meeting) in late October 2019. These results and methodology, already published in an international outlet, were evolved to understand some foundational aspects of doctoral research in Design and also the reproducibility of Portuguese research in this field of knowledge. (3) Refinement of the iterative reflexive and distributed observation approach based on the results obtained in stage 1 and 2. This process is now being used to approach other research topics such as the characterization of Design companies in Portugal using databases such as SABI that can provide some information to facilitate the creation of preliminary representations.
Costa, N., Branco, V., Costa, R., Borges, A., Modesto, A., Silva, A., & Cunca, R.
The DesignOBS project was created to collect, map and interpret data about the Portuguese Design Ecosystem, providing supportive information for decision making. This study takes advantage of a participative Design perspective to define and test an observation process via a case based on Design doctorates undertaken in Portugal. It emphasises the need for additional participatory analysis and curation by experts to evaluate and develop more reliable information about the discipline. Moreover, it develops recommendations that can enhance the communicability of Design doctorates.
"In the particular case of academic design research, written theses are the most commonly known ways of capturing the whole research process of the study in a single, stable, endurable and searchable medium (...) this enduring record is what enables other researchers to criticise or use any results of the research" Durling, 2002.
National project that looks at design as a factor of innovation as well as cultural and socioeconomic development. The project collects and interprets data from the Portuguese Design ecosystem to promote its knowledge and to influence public policies.
2021 Observatório de Design. Towards a Design Observatory: models, instruments, representations and strategies. Supported by Lisbon Regional Operational Programme (Lisboa 2020) and the Competitiveness and Internationalisation Operational Programme (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-032445), under the PORTUGAL 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology.
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