Negotiating 'Doctorateness' in Practice-related Design Disciplines. Some Notes from a Scandinavian Perspective of Research Education
Paper in proceedings, 2012
There are continually higher expectations with regard to quality of research in the ADA fields (Architecture, Design and Arts). In organised research education academic standards of designerly research are being taught, discussed and negotiated. During the years of doctoral ‘apprenticeship’ the PhD students learn to master the research craft. The final trial is the assessment of the doctoral thesis, where a committee decides whether an expected level of “doctorateness” has been achieved.
Already in 1997 UK Council for Graduate Education published a report on quality of doctoral work in the ADA fields, in which the term “doctorateness” appeared in the following context: “The essence of ‘doctorateness’ is about an informed peer consensus on mastery of the subject; mastery of analytical breadth (where methods, techniques, contexts and data are concerned) and mastery of depth (the contribution itself, judged to be competent and original and of high quality)” (UKCGE,1997:11).
The concept of “doctorateness” has been central in doctoral courses the authors during several years have offered in Belgium, Norway and Sweden. In 2011-2012 the authors are together with a group of international doctoral candidates studying the “doctorateness” of several recent practice-related doctoral theses in architecture and design executed in Scandinavia. The theses are analysed together with the assessments of the committees, using an approach of integrative research review (Cooper, 1984). This methodology conceptualizes the integrative research review as a form of scientific inquiry similar to the primary research process.
The paper will report on the analyses and findings from these studies. The aim is to contribute to a broader debate on whether “doctorateness” as defined in the UKCGE context can become a useful pedagogical tool for promoting a culture of designerly research.