Fil Salustri's Design Site

Site Tools


Empirical Field Study

Empirical field studies can be used to get “raw data” for design researchers.

These notes are from [Sca02].

Principles of EFS Methods

Hermeneutic circle: “The phrase hermeneutic circle refers to the circle of interpretation necessarily involved when understanding some work of art. According to this theory, it isn't possible to really understand any one part of a work until you understand the whole, but it also isn't possible to understand the whole without also understanding all of the parts.” ref

Contextualization: “the need to identify a web of situations, conditions, or events that characterize the social and historical background of” the object of study.

Reveal the interaction between researcher and subject: derived from ethnography, the impact of the researcher must be identified and accounted for in analyses, as it may skew the research results.

Abstraction and generalization: abstraction is the extraction of general principles, whereas generalisation is a more statistical exercise of discovering common features that are not abstract.

Dialogical reasoning: There are two sources of information from studies: information drawn from theoretic work, and information drawn from empirical studies. Dialogical reasoning deals with the rational comparison of the two, to determine consistency of theory with “reality”.

Multiple interpretations: Different people interpret studies in different ways. These differences tend to help distinguish robust conclusions from those that incorporate various undesirable biases.

Suspicion of bias or systematic distortion: Caution is required where only minimal different interpretations are available, and efforts should be made to identify possible sources of bias or distortion of observations and conclusions.

See Also

  • the Design Research Methodology

[Sca02]. W. Scacchi. 2002. Understanding the requirements for developing open source software systems. IEE Proceedings – Software, 149(1):24-39. (link)
research/empirical_field_study.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)