Research Methodoligies Week 5 Introduction

This weeks lecture was focused on the methods that we use when researching, which is a crucial part of being a practitioner within textiles. As there are multiple types of researching, it is our job to work out which method is appropriate to our own textile practice as the context dictates which will be more effective.

Throughout this module we will be exploring the different contexts that will be appropriate for different research topics. These are: Research Trends:

  • The Future Workplace – Studio, Education
  • Sustainable Materials – Eco-friendly, location, travel, ethical
  • Archival Interventions – History, looking to the past
  • Innovations in Giving – Volunteering (time), interact with the public, charities
  • Collaborative Consumption – Working in different subject areas, working with others
  • Well Being – Natural, the planet’s well being, creative, healthcare, craft therapy

These trends are trends because they encourage people to engage with problems that we will be facing in the future, that will be difficult issues to deal with the longer we leave them. It is also important to try and apply them to every aspect of our everyday lives so that we can engage with a wider context that will widen our research and knowledge.

Research topics are very broad because they cover such a large amount of topics; however, once you apply your specialism, which in my case is knit, and your role, contemporary practitioner, then this immediately narrows down what you look for because both of these things alter what you want to look for because of your interests and how you think.

Specific Context

  • Textile Thinking – A topic that is appropriate to my chosen specialism (knit) and gives new ideas on textile practices.
  • Archival Intervention – Looking at an exhibition, museum or gallery as inspiration, focusing on its history and contemporary importance; looking at how this informs my own textile practice.
  • Creating a new/improved textile product or service – Aimed to resolve a specific problem or issue.

As a Contemporary Practitioner, i feel that i lean more towards the Archival Intervention because i love to look at the history or reason behind things; the reasons why they are the way they are. Also, i like that you can look at something and come to many conclusions of what the work means, which leads to your own work always being different to someone else because they have interpreted it differently.

Methods Used to Gain More of an Insight into a Research Topic

  • Observation/Shadowing Analysis – Watching how people interact with each other or a particular object and writing down this information. You do not interact with the participants as you would have an influence on them and how they carry out a task.
  • Cultural Problems/User Diaries – Collecting data from people about how they felt when they carried out a certain activity.
  • Role Playing Tools – A type of acting. Putting yourself into a situation in order to better understand how things are done or how people feel.
  • Focus Groups – Small selection of the public that are there to review something and give constructive feedback that will help the practitioner.
  • Workshops – working directly with people to see how your work reacts when in play.
  • Archival Research – Looking at cultural areas of society for inspiration. i.e. galleries, museums
  • Narrative Analysis – Looking at how people use stories to interpret the world or an idea.
  • Interviews – Talking to people in order to gain some of their knowledge to inform your own work.
  • Divergent Thinking – Thinking creatively in order to form a solution to a problem. ‘Thinking out of the box’.
  • Personas (user lifestyles) – Made up characters based on real people, to represent a group of user’s. Used to showcase the user’s behaviour patterns.
  • Documentary Forms – Presenting an idea through a use of a film where it appears to be real, but it is in fact staged.
  • Questionnaires – Series of questions answered by a study group (usually targeted)
  • Scenario Building – This is where designers make a digital version of a concept and can see digitally how their users might interact with what they are offering.
  • Social Enterprise Activities – Community based workshops where the local people build something that can be sold or used within the community to bring people together and to generate some sort of income.
  • Video Ethnography – A type of observation, as a participant is carrying out their daily activities, they are being filmed so that the researcher can record what they do in order to rewatch the information.
  • On-Line Community Forums – a way to contact a wider audience.
  • Statistical Analysis – working primarily with numbers. Bit more scientific.

Mapping Out My Own Approach

  • Research Topic? I think my research topic would be Archival Intervention.
  • Specialism and Role? How this dictates the context i gather information? My specialism is knit, and my role is contemporary practitioner which will dictate how i carry out my research because I will focus on the meanings of what i am doing, whether it be the materials that i use or the outcome that i produce. I can also see history playing a big part in my work because knit in itself has a huge historical background, but also as a contemporary practitioner i will be constantly looking to further my knowledge of a subject which very often means looking back to the past.
  • Research methods used by other people on my topic? The research methods on this topic usually consists of going to galleries or museums in order to gain the first hand knowledge of a subject because it is lead by how you as a practitioner interpret a subject which you then feed into your own work.
  • Methods i will use to bring my research topic and specialism (knit) together? Workshops and archival research will help to bring my topic and specialism together because the knowledge that i will gain from my research can then be adapted and used within a workshop to see other people interact with what i have found. I could also apply role playing tools so that i can get engrossed in a topic and have a hands on approach that will help me to progress with my work.

Scoping Literature

  • Scoping – look at what’;s out there.
  • Mapping – key areas of my research topic
  • Focusing – narrowing the research down to my own specific area. Looking at existing research and my own interests.

This is a really good way to make sure that you are researching properly because it allows you to get the maximum benefit out of what you are looking at. It may also mean that you have multiple ideas that could take you in a different direction that is much better and more suitable.


Overall, this lecture was interesting because it meant that we were able to see all of the different routes that can be taken when researching a certain topic. Previously, i just assumed that for every context you have to take a similar approach, whereas, in actual fact, you can really tailor how you go about collecting information which in turn, will improve the usefulness of what you collect. This will ultimately cause the quality of the work produced to be of a much higher standard and be obvious where the information has come from.

This week has been really interesting. For my specialism i am keen to explore a large amount of hand techniques as well as machine techniques as i feel that this works hand in hand with my research topic, Archival Intervention because there are tonnes of historical aspects to this type of textile. I am also looking forward to using my professional route of contemporary practitioner to aid with this because it will allow me to search in depth about the techniques that i use which will ultimately help me work within the appropriate context.


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