University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

The rhetoric of research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


  • 903894

    Accepted author manuscript, 36 KB, PDF document

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommon Ground
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Design Research Society International Conference
EditorsDavid Durling, John Shackleton
Place of PublicationStoke-on-Trent
PublisherStaffordshire University Press
ISBN (Print)1904133118
Publication statusPublished - 2002


In 1993 Christopher Frayling, the Rector of the Royal College of Art in London, published an article about the nature of research in art and design. The present paper revisits his threefold distinction of "research- in art, research-through art and research-for art", and considers why Frayling found the third category to be problematic. The analytical methods used are linguistic (a constructionist approach to the rhetorical effect of construing various prepositions with "research"), and philosophical (a Wittgensteinian approach, distinguishing between socially agreed normative criteria, and non-normative indicators or symptoms). The paper argues that the instrumentality of terms such as "research" should be contrasted by observations of how the register of artefacts is used in the advancement of the field. If one adopts a constructionist approach then one is forced to be sceptical about the reification of publicly agreed criteria. The paper uses Wittgenstein's distinction between criteria and symptoms to identify three indicators of research that may point towards a solution to Frayling's problem through the re-description of his category "research- for" art as "a work-of" art.


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