Designing Your Own Research Inquiry

At postgraduate level you will have increased ownership of your research enquiries, from the very beginning through to the end of a project.

For writing projects at Masters level, it is likely you will choose your own topic to research and write about, whereas at undergraduate level you will mostly have been responding to essay questions set by your lecturer.

At undergraduate level your research and its finished outcomes for visual projects will in most instances be in response to a brief set by your tutors. At postgraduate level you will be in charge of your own research agenda, from deciding on a topic to explore, to setting out the process of the research and making adjustments along the way. Because you have designed the process of the inquiry yourself, it is even more important to clearly document the development of your work for assessment purposes.15301940478_977afc6599_z

See our pages Research at Postgraduate Level.

The process of research inquiry can be mapped in a similar way to the Design Council’s Double Diamond of the design process, with the four stages of Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver.

Discover: develop a general sense of your topic; gather insights; identify the problem or information gap, play with different ideas.

Define: narrow down your topic; focus your approach and decide on methods

Develop: synthesise, analyse and evaluate your findings; devise a structure

Deliver: produce the final outcome, whether a written piece, a visual artwork, a design for a building, etc.

The research process is not always neat and linear. It is more often messy, multi-faceted and multi -dimensional. The uncertainty and risk-taking of creative research can be challenging but it is also where unexpected or unknown potentials can emerge. Postgraduate study involves engaging with not knowing and sometimes getting lost, and managing yourself in this uncertain space is a significant aspect of the learning process.

Image: McAteer at GSA Flickr