There is little existing literature on the dual academic and commercial contexts of doctoral design research. In response I set out firstly to identify the value of previous professional experience of the research student in forming external collaborations, secondly, to identify the general characteristics of external research collaborations and thirdly to document ways in which the doctoral student interacts with industry to manage relationships effectively, obtain meaningful results and disseminate outcomes. The findings were relevant to both the research student/supervisor with regard to recruitment and training and the designer/producer with respect to commercial strategy and research exploitation.
The paper draws directly on questionnaire evidence from a representative sample of twenty recent design research doctoral programmes to identify and directly compare theoretical and practical aims. A questionnaire was deployed to explore both attitudes and experiences, focusing specifically on the relationship between scholarship and enterprise. Rigour was reinforced primarily by evaluating broader case-study evidence in conjunction with the questionnaire and by comparing direct entry student responses with those of students who were undertaking their study within an existing professional context, the work assesses the impacts of the PhD in design on professional practice. The paper reflects a continuing research concern with ‘practice-related’ doctoral research, in which scholarly ambitions are often augmented by a wish to directly inform or enhance the design process.
The conference, organised by University of Art and Design Helsinki, was a pre-congress conference of ERA05, World Design Congress in Copenhagen.
The paper is a development from my earlier work on research thinking explored in two previous papers on doctoral themes, both given as an invited keynote conference speaker (a public lecture, "Making Change - design, diversity and practice-related research", Graduate Research Conference, RMIT University 2001 and the international ‘Research into Practice’ conference, University of Hertfordshire 2000).