Constructivist Foundations 11 (1):8-21 (2015)

Context: Practice-based design research is becoming more widely recognized in academia, including at doctoral level, yet there are arguably limited options for dissemination beyond the traditional conference format of paper-based proceedings, possibly with an exhibition or “demonstrator” component that is often non-archival. Further, the opportunities afforded by the traditional-format paper presentations is at times at odds with practice-based methodologies being presented. Purpose: We provide a first-hand descriptive account of developing and running a new international conference with an experimental format that aims to support more analogously the dissemination of practice-based design research. Method: Our approach herein is broadly interpretative, phenomenological and critically reflective in orientation, to analyze our own experiential insights from the conference conception, through to the event itself and post-conference reflections, alongside the reflections fed back by conference delegates. Results: We have found the roundtable format continues to function well for creating a discursive interactional context. However issues arose around the crucial nature of the session chair’s role in enabling rich and multi-voiced discussion and how presenters’, organizers’ and delegates’ voices were captured and documented, with implications for further developing the conference design. Looking forward, there are also questions raised about: balancing the stringency of a rigorous review process with provision of an encouraging platform for early-career researchers; and balancing the need for clear criteria and formatting standards with the “openness” of the submission template and formatting guidelines and/or writing. This includes designers who are new to research cultures. It should also appeal to those working in interdisciplinary research in collaboration with design practitioners (but who may not be practitioners themselves. The conference aims to foster and support a burgeoning “research through design” academic community and to provide a fitting dissemination platform for this community. We hope that the conference will encourage academic communities to give proper consideration to the concept of design as a knowledge-generating activity. Constructivist content: Knowledge about design research is generated from meaningful interaction between people and artifacts as part of the unfolding conference experience. The organizational features of the conference aim to support knowledge dissemination through dialogical relations between people and things in particular contexts of interaction
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