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    Establishing Criteria of Rigor and Relevance in Interaction Design Research

    Create10 - The interaction design conference

    Edinburgh Napier University, UK, 30 June - 2 July 2010


    Daniel Fallman and Erik Stolterman


    Interaction design research has rapidly evolved into a unique discipline embracing practicing professionals, design educators, and academic researchers. As with many evolving disciplines, attracting attention from a large number of people with different backgrounds, interests, and ways of seeing tends to cause 'disciplinary anxiety', which inevitably leads to the question of what constitutes 'good research'. What is rigorous and relevant interaction design research? How do we recognise and evaluate it? In this paper, we argue that most current attempts at dealing with issues of rigor and relevance in interaction design research tend to be on loan from other disciplines, and tend to overlook, conceal, or knowingly exclude some of what makes interaction design research such a unique field. Our primary contribution is that what may be perceived as three different design research activities - design practice, design exploration, and design studies - have their own purposes, intended outcomes, and internal logic. Each form of research must thus be examined in its own right and the notions of rigor and relevance for each of them have to be based on a firm understanding of the particular purpose of each approach. We would argue that this is not done consistently in the field today, which leads to misunderstandings, confusion, and mistakes when interaction design research is reviewed, discussed, and assessed.


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