This article will give a brief introduction to “design science research” and how it relates to other design methods in Educational Technology.
The hardest thing with discussing design is choice of words. For the purpose of this article, I will adopt the following strict definitions:
- Science is the creation of knowledge
- Design is the creation of artifacts
Design Science Research [DSR] prescribes creative design and development of solutions to real problems as a way to build knowledge. In DSR, the results must be reported, and the report must contain what the design aims to do, a documentation of the design process and an evaluation of the processes and artifact. All this can be done iteratively and combined into one report.
If a design instance does not build knowledge, it is not DSR. Likewise, if research does not create a useful artifact, it is not DSR. It requires both components.
Whether a design is DSR or not depends on what qualifies as “building knowledge”. An educator may make a discovery while developing an online course that benefits all their future online courses. Their personal knowledge has certainly grown, but if they do not share that knowledge, can it be said they have contributed to overall knowledge?
In the same way, whether some research is DSR is difficult because “what is a useful artifact” must be answered. A research may develop an artifact, but if it is never used outside lab conditions, can it truly be considered useful?
Pasteur’s quadrant is a category defined by Donald Stokes (1997) where a research technique generated both useful artifacts and pure knowledge, as opposed to “Bohr’s quadrant” of pure basic research and “Edison’s quadrant” of pure applied research. All DSR techniques fall into Pasteur’s category of “Use-inspired research” as they both build knowledge and design a practical artifact.
[Corrected - originally stated that Pasteur's quadrant was the way of determining researchiness/usableness]
DSR is a recognized methodology that can be adopted while doing EdTech research. It recognizes the value of creative development of an actual artifact.
DSR does not contradict design methods – the choice of design method is still down to the researcher.