Research by Design Definition by Johan Verbeke



  1. The Unthinkable Doctorate, 2005, Brussels, Proceedings available here
  2. Design Enquiries, Stockholm, 2007
  3. Research into Practice, London, 2008
  4. Changes of Paradigms in the Basic Understanding of Architectural Research, Copenhagen, 2008
  5. Communicating (by) Design, Brussels, 2009
  6. The Place of Research/The Research of Place, Washington, 2010
  7. Knowing by Designing, Brussels, 2013

Professional Bodies



  • The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, published in 2010, Book
  • Journal for Artistic Research, established 2011
  • Jan Kaila, The Artist’s Knowledge, 2006

“Research” Definition

  • Original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding; it includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship; the invention and generation of new ideas, images, performances, artifacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved material, devices, products and processes, including design and construction (RAE, 2008)
  • Human learning and (social) constructivist thinking are strongly based on experiences, perceptions, and interactions between people (…) as a result these people develop a mutual intersubjective understanding
  • Research itself is design: there is no such thing as research that is not designed (Glanville) Seen this way, design has the power to facilitate the generation of knowledge
  • Research is the curiosity-driven production of new knowledge. (Nowotny)
  • Research is inherently beset by uncertainties, since the results or outcomes are by definition unknown
  • Any kind of inquiry in which design is a substantial constituent of the research process is referred to as research by design/ act of design is key, peer review is essential to maintain quality/ it has to be openly connected to practice and studio work (EAAE, 2012)

Polanyi: there is more than factual and explicit knowledge

Schon: importance of reflective thinking in the development of understanding and knowledge in creative disciplines, focus on othe rtypes of knowledge

Gibbons Mode 1: Knowledge is the complex of ideas, values and norms that has grown up to control the diffusion of the Newtonian model of science to more and more fields of enquiry and ensure its compliance with what is considered sound scientific practice

Gibbons Mode 2: Knowledge production carried out in the context of application and marked by its transdisciplinarity, heterogeneity, organizational hierarchy and transcience; social accountability and reflexivity-it results from the parallel expansion of knowledge producers and users in society.

Stefan Ostersjo doctoral thesis: critical moments in developing insight during practice/play; it acts as an exemplar of research where the doing plays a crucial role.

Nonaka-Takeuchi: combination, internalization, socialization and externalization

Johan Verbeke: INPUT: local statements/ OPERATIONS: anything that is done to change the input/ OUTPUT-KNOWING: everything that results when the application of an end rule to the process of operating on the input comes to a stop/ DELIVERABLES: all tangible manifestations of the outputs


  • Verbeke, J., 2013. This is Research by Design. In Murray Fraser’s (ed.) Introduction to Design research in Architecture: An Overview, edited by Murray Fraser, Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 137-159
  • Full text available here/ Image available here

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