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What is Research: An Example

Asking Questions: An Example


WHY does Kensington Market work?

  • why is urban planning used (or not!)?
  • why do local businesses shape its character?
  • why does history influence its present character?

HOW does Kensington Market work?

  • how is urban planning used (or not!)?
  • how do local businesses shape its character?
  • how does history influence its present character?

WHAT is going on in Kensington Market? It’s so amazing! Everyone’s just doing their own thing!  Everyone seems so happy!

Although research is a thoroughly individualized process, these core questions may help in directing your actions and goals at each stage.  Note that these central questions can lead to other questions involving WHO, WHERE, WHEN.  But do try to limit you inquiry to the appropriate stage of the research process. Two design and art-related case studies are provided:

  • SPECIFIC Case-Studies: ask the question WHAT, for ex.
    • DESIGN: WHAT are the parameters of your design problem; WHAT community stakeholders are involved?
      • each question could involve questions of WHO, WHERE but these questions should always lead back to the formal characteristics of your SPECIFIC case-study
    • ART:  WHAT are the mediums used in your visual analysis? WHAT are the formal elements (line, plane, texture, etc.) of the artwork?

  • General CONTEXT: ask the question HOW, for ex.
    • DESIGN:HOW do community stakeholders understand a design problem? HOW does this differ from my views? HOW can we resolve these divisions?
      • these certainly can lead to questions of WHEN, as the historical or cultural CONTEXT are central to understanding material culture
    • ART: HOW do mediums used in an artwork interact with the formal elements?

  • General THEORY:
    • DESIGN: WHY is there a division between designer and community stakeholders?  can I use existing theories (urban planning, place identity, or markers of urban attachment) to bridge these gaps?
    • ART: WHY did the artist select SPECIFIC mediums and forms?  can I use an existing theory (abstract expressionism, feminist art criticism, Indigenous visual culture) to understand WHY the artist combined form with medium to convey a message?