Practice Based Research – The ‘Cinderella’ Problem

Authors: Andrew Walters, Ashley Morgan Published: 2011 Area of Research: User Centred Design Citation: PDR is a research institute within Cardiff Metropolitan University concerned with the effective use of design as a tool for innovation in the private and public sectors. We undertake applied research with collaborators from industry, academia and governments to examine and improve policy development, management and practice of product and service design. PDR’s research was returned to the REF2014 as part of a joint submission with the Wales Institute for Research in Art and Design (WIRAD) where 75% of the submission was judged as Internationally Excellent with 23% being World Leading. In addition to the research outputs submitted, PDR made a significant contribution to impact, providing two of the three required case studies. REF2014 judged 100% of the impact of our research to be Internationally Excellent with 50% World Leading.


Current literature in doctoral education in design is currently wrestling with the with idea that there is little homogeneity in doctoral design programs, and the dissonance which emerges from lack of confidence in practice based design in general. This paper explores a range of reasons for this lack of confidence, and proposes the benefits of a more interdisplinary approach, which might have multiple consequences. Firstly, applying methodologies from other academic areas could lead to a fruitful and more dynamic perspective of artifacts, highlighting their discursive nature, and secondly, using a specifically designed location, that of a product design observation laboratory could lead to greater collaboration and fidelity in design research from other academics outside of the design field.

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