What do we need to say about a design method?

Gerrike, Kilian; Eckert, Claudia and Stacey, Martin (2017). What do we need to say about a design method? In: 21th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 2015), 21-25 Aug 2017, Vancouver, Canada.


Method development is one of the raisons d’etre of engineering design research and method uptake by industry is perceived as an important success criterion. This paper argues that one of the problems with methods is the lack of clarity about what is actually proposed to industry and the academic community when a new method is put forward, in terms of how detailed, strict, precise and rigorous the method is and what it can deliver. This paper puts the concept of method in the context of related concepts and proposes a multi-level model of the elements of a method to argue that a contribution on each of these levels can be of value and that the introduction of methods can fail on each of these levels. Implications thereof for industry and academia are discussed, concluding that a clear description of methods and their intended use is important for enabling proper validation of each of the method’s elements and for communicating methods to academia and industry.

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