When it comes to choosing the type of research to be performed, there are endless avenues to pick from. Researchers can choose from attempting to solve age-old questions to working on theories to design technology or ideas that have not even been thought of yet outside of their own minds. It’s a wonderful and diverse field in which the interest and passion of an individual academic lets them choose the research they want to pursue, provided it is in line with their institutional goals if they are working under those guidelines.
Different types of research are available, but since a scholar’s reputation is based primarily on the impact their work makes in the field of academics or societal change, many academic experts are often guided towards working on projects in areas with the most predominant industries that make the largest impact. These are often healthcare and economics, but anything that fills a need in individuals or society is a dynamic and integral part of science. When design research is used to approach these topics, the impact that even smaller branches of study can generate is enough to make a researcher passionate about creating a solution to a problem interested in moving beyond the widespread and typical subjects.
What is Design Research?
When you see a product or a service, or an entire system, that meets a human need, it came about through a complex process of design research. Not every aspect of society is interrelated to healthcare and economics. There are millions of little pieces that fit together to form a moving part that improves the overall lifestyles, homes, and security of people, and contributes to a better working government order.
Every department store has products that meet needs that require design research to create. Every business provides a service that meets needs that require design research to analyze, incorporate, and oversee the benefits to its clientele. Without the research done beforehand, these products, services, and systems don’t have enough data to ensure they are moving in the right direction and starting on a firm foundation. Design research turns the basic information collected into a formal hypothesis, analysis, and outcome that helps those creating that product or service to make decisions, adjust their timelines and ideas, and move forward with a deliberately sound set of goals.
How Can Design Research Be Used for the Collective Good?
Since design research usually focuses on areas outside of the coveted fields of healthcare and economics, it’s often overlooked as a scope of research that can be used for the collective good. Creating a beauty product, for example, is more of a niche market than an overall audience target.
But releasing all these products and services into successful markets takes more than just the researcher and stakeholders. It all works together in a well-oiled machine, as each cog does their part in the entire process. As individuals are brought into the fold to market, produce, and sell the outcomes of the research itself, the entire society is impacted in a domino effect that ends up reaching out to the world, in a way that enhances the collective good little by little.
Using Design Research to Further Impact
Not all design research, or any type of research, generates the impact hoped for by the researchers and stakeholders at the beginning of the study. With design research, there are a few key steps in the process that can be included to ensure maximum impact is made, such as:
● Collecting relevant, specific, and detailed data in the field to verify there is a need and that the proposed solution is sought after
● Processing the collected data into relevant categories, making sure the participants’ privacy requirements are considered, tagging each piece of information with metadata to be able to access it on demand as needed later, and observing and documenting any data that could be something that qualifies as a future need that could be filled
● Synthesizing the data through the processes of prioritizing each piece, evaluating every aspect for relevancy, and connecting all of the singular parts into a whole piece.
● Taking the final synthesized results and formulating insights to go through the problem-solving process of how to meet the needs, which involves speculation of human behavior
● Coming up with ways of checks and balances to see if the potential solutions meet patterns in history and future trends
● Creating action plans to follow through with design concepts that fill the need and solve the problem
Little problems are in need of solutions, too. Design research is a way that society’s small gaps are covered before they become major chasms that affect the dominant fields of healthcare and economics.