New forms of Doctorate

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Free seminar on practice, the PhD and new forms of doctorate (2 March, London)

ESRC seminar series on New Forms of Doctorate I am very pleased to announce the latest seminar in the ESRC series New Forms of Doctorate. Previous seminars in the series have been highly praised and very popular, so please book your place early.


London Knowledge Lab
23-29 Emerald Street
London WC1N 3QS

Date and time
2 March 2010
coffee from 10:00; seminar begins 10:30; ends 3:30

How to secure a place
Please email Richard Sheldrake at

About the seminar
The new seminar on 2 March 2010 follows the pattern of our previous events in combining strategic overviews of key issues in the modern doctorate and case studies of particular forms of research practice. Again key themes will be the kinds of knowledge created by research and how they can best be represented. The selection of participants is designed to give insights across discipline boundaries.

We are very fortunate to have leading the speakers Prof. Chris Rust, co-author of the important AHRC Review of Practice-Led Research 2007, who is widely published on themes of tacit knowledge and the nature of design. Dr. Mine Dogantan-Dack will consider practice-as-research in music performance. An internationally respected musician, she has recently directed an AHRC project, Alchemy, rooted in rehearsal and performance with the Marmara Trio. Dr. Anna Milsom completed her PhD in translation at Middlesex University with a highly innovative multimedia approach to representing her research knowledge.

Dr. Catherine Hill continues our theme from a previous seminar, considering professional doctorates as well as the PhD. She has a particular interest in enquiry which occurs in and for advanced level practice and which has effective action rather than published output as its main aim. Dr. Kristina Niedderrer offers us a framework for the relationship between research methods, knowledge, and that so-tricky concept, rigour. Dr Nick Bryan-Kinns researches collaboration, engagement, and the design process. He has particular insights to offer in interdisciplinary studies, such as PhDs which veer towards the arts but which are located and examined in a science and engineering faculty, and is contributor to a major EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre.


Prof. Chris Rust: Wicked Problems: Unstated Contributions

Professor of Design
Director, Sheffield Institute of Arts
Head of Art and Design Department
Sheffield Hallam University

Main ideas – Rust is concerned with professional and scholarly interest of designers in the art school tradition
Research in design is often a kind of engineeringarcheology of the future- it might be a way in which we use artifacts that don’t yet exist to reveal problems that may exist in the future.

Example: Owain Pedgely - Practice-based PhD

  • Early practice-based research - looking at high quality plastic guitars - started working with engineers - but they got stuck - very good at taking things apart. The problem: when you take something apart, you can no longer observe how it works as a whole
  • Owen suggested an alter approach – practitioners - So they togethre made guitars and played them and talked about them and talked about which where the qualities that were valuable - Prescription for AN effective guitar - developed a methodology along the way

Example: Hendrick Gedenryd PhD thesis - How Designers Work - processes the Rosetta Stone of Rational Action Models

  • Proposes interactive instead of intrametnal thought – can’t do all the design in your head - you need to work with materials
  • What you need: the person, environment and the action (task) for engaging with the environment - model for interactive thought and creative action…
  • Situation (explore) Model (experiment) Knowledge (gather) – this doesn’t seem radical and yet this isn’t the way that designers talk about their work.
  • Why do we know that intramental design doesn’t work? You have to make something to see and explore possibilities to begin to understand the problem.

Example: Simon Bowen – PhD thesis - 'Crazy Ideas'

  • Looks at how people might engage with a problem that market research can’t deal with it? New technologies and how they lead to new products.
  • Develops The Prioritiser - Bottom shelf goes into the shredder – evokes email (management) – provokes people to step outside their current space - Critial design practice - develops prototype - (crazy object) but then moves towards something more practical - This could be seen as series of focus groups and their could be a lot of analysis of the focus groups - but he doesn’t do this - instead he tacitly processes - “Prcoessing” (his specific term for reflecting on what comes out of the focus groups)

Example: Rizal Rahman - PhD thesis - 'Comfortable Objects'

  • Designing for people who are undergoing cultural migration - bringing with them cultural habits…very fluid, very complex transition…social enquiry
  • Sketches may be better because they're less set - more open to change and development - people can still have an impact
  • Is the designer designing new social practices?

PhD problem: What is a valid outcome? But ensuring it’s properly scholarly and that it has a methodology for practice (?) Methodology squared - research is about a knowledge of practice (but if historians only study how we do history, we’d think that would be poor value for money)

Unstated contributions - often ineffable

Example: Lucy Lyons - Drawist - PhD thesis - Delineating Fibrodysplasia Ossifician Progressiva

  • Questions around the artist's contribution to new knowledge?
  • Is it about delineation? Is it about phenomenology? Pathology? History? Drawing? Dignity? Drawing gave the subjects dignity in a way that other imaging processes didn’t? Technology? Practice? Methodology?
  • Real contribution: Imaging - Lucy's drawings show things that could not be observed in photographs - showed that a particular aspect of the skeleton had turned to bone - so she gave pathologists access to stuff they couldn't previously see - she couldn't herself, however, use this knowledge - she wasn't allowed to - she's not a medical practitioner. Some of the things we do, we can’t own and we have to hand it over to others to complete the picture...
  • 'Wicked problems': concept developed in response the design methods movement in the 1960s – trying to systematize design - about rules - do designers know answers? - 'wicked problem' – no reliable rules - at stake: social system problems which are ill formulated, often confusing, many clients and stake holders and conflicting values - confusing source - Horst (?)
  • 'Tame problem' – a problem that's under control and there’s a rule-based solution
  • The priority of the engineer is to get the problem under control - sometimes you have to work within the problem because it's the only way address the issue...
  • Is this a useful theory of action?
  • “The problem can’t be defined until the solution is found” Rittle and Webber.
  • An argumentative process in the course of which an image of the problem and solution emegers gradually among the participants as a product of incessant judgment subjected to critical argument (source?)

My reflections: The last case study was an especially interesting example of the potential disconnect between authorship and ownership, which is why it was so curious to say that getting (personal) recognition for a peer reviewed journal for your scholarship is important because it documents your ownership over a little bit of the knowledge pie...

Relevance to my research: Could adopt and adapt iterative design processes - the proposed dialogic approach seems connected to user-centered design...

Dr. Mine Dogantan-Dack: Alchemy in the spotlight: Qualitative Transformations in Chamber Music Performance

Research Fellow
Chair of Music Research Group
Music Department
Middlesex University

  • Presenter begins by situating the research - explains the status of research on musical performance and the discourses being deployed
  • The relationship between studying performance and doing performance is integral source: Richard Schechner
  • What’s the status quo in contemporary music performance studies? Growing interest in performance studies - Dogantan-Dack believes this connects to reception theory
  • Research involves various forms of translation – terms you are familiar with - performance is self-evidently a form of interpretation, in just the same way that critical and historical writing about musical, iconic representations, or TV and film adaptations are translations - Nicolas Cook and his theory of "acoustic text" - Dogantan-Dack contests the possibility of direct translation - exceeds/differs from text - Dominant paradigm in musicology says that performance involves an interpretative rather than creative activity…and this creates problems for a research as original contribution…
  • Overt value judgments – scientific – musicology – moves away from the subjective, affective, ephemeral….
  • There’s a lot of confusion around new knowledge and originality - How it's to be understood and dealt with - there are big questions around the outcomes of practice-based research and the implications of documentation

Criteria to fulfill:

  1. High-level contribution to practice – if you want to understand the artistic processes, it has to be undertaken by an expert. It’s not possible to theorize about the sociological aspects of amateurs… (Not sure I agree with this)
  2. A reflective component that post-dates the performance and is physically (ontologically) distinct from the documented performance.
  3. Interested in questions that can only be addressed from the inside – for example, performing live…studying a phenomenon - the magic of the performance…it sometimes happens…qualitative transformation that take place during a live performance, affective engagement, unplanned creative decisions made on the spot
  4. You have to perform live – and it’s very illusive…never been studied before - seePRIMO: Practice of Research in Music Online
  5. The professional practice of live performance – only about live performance - preparatory processes - to get the researchers research for live performance - perceptions - live performance: intermediary point - in professional development - musicians as life-long learners
  6. Develop a discourse rooted in the sensiblities and value system of the professional performance…psychological response…
  7. For the performer…what happens matters…though this doesn’t matter to the musicology…Musical knowing

Music is something you do and not just something you perceive. Therefore, a theory of music [or music performance]

Question: What you're describing reminds me of design for and design with getting feedback from the audience?
Response: In rehearsal, it's almost like getting ready to play for and this is different from playing with - Dynamic feedback from the audience - You can feel the people listening - You can feel the interaction with the audience has changed - an environment is created and you feel it - important questions for musical performance…..

Question: There seems to be a prioritizing of the affective – aesthetic experience is the thing = better performance…
Response: Yes, when you’re engaged in deep listening…there are different demands - certain transformations in time consciousness…studies have show that although audiences can hear differences in performance quality during the performance, they don't retain these perceptions - the affect of sound is very difficult to remember.

My Reflections: Intriguing presentation - affect fetishized in surprising ways - "magic of performance" refreshingly unscientific - surprised nor more discussion around addressivity and the difference between performing for one another (musicians) and performing for an unknown other - audience - My hunch: this shifts you into a different kind of self awareness - engaged but also cognizant of one's engagement?

Dr. Catherine Hill: Research or Design: Developing methodological frameworks for professional doctorates in health and social care

Programme leader, Professional Doctorate
Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Sheffield Hallam University

What are the characteristics of professional practice?

  1. Motivated by a need for practical problem solving
  2. Often in relation to a very specific and unique problem
  3. Requiring active behavior and/or technical intervention
  4. In response to huge quantities and types of data
  5. Multiple sources
  6. Diverse types in unpredictable ways and changing context
  7. Pragmatically constrained by limited resources of e.g. time, equipment and information
  8. And transcending traditional and academic professions discriplinary boundaries

Wants to think about health care training through design

  • Design methods - John Chris Jones
  • Richard Sennet – The Craftsman

I didn't see the other presentations

Dr. Anna Milsom
Senior Lecturer in Applied Translation
London Metropolitan University

Dr. Kristina Niedderrer
Reader in Design and Applied Arts
Chair of Material Design and Applied Art Research Group
School of Art and Design
University of Wolverhampton

Dr. Nick Bryan-Kinns
Centre for Digital Music<br. and IMC Research Group
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science,
Queen Mary, University of London

The series is led by Prof. Richard Andrews at the Institute of Education.

The London Knowledge Lab is a collaboration between the Institute of Education and Birkbeck.

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