Designers & academic literature (Responses)
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TimestampWhat kind of design are you involved with?How many people work at your organisation?Have you ever made use of 'academic literature' in your job?Can you name an academic journal or academic conference that's relevant to your field?How did you get access to the literature?How useful, as a designer, have you found insights from academic research as part of your job?Any commentsWhy?Would you find it useful to have access to literature if it were free / cheap / easy access?Can you name an academic journal or academic conference that's relevant to your field?Any comments
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1/31/2013 13:28:30
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1/31/2013 13:37:04Service design2/9/2013YesInformation Design Journal and conferenceFrom when at uni10Would love to access other journals but the cost is prohibitive for a small design company. I have to get my friends who are academics to get me copies (shhhh!)
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1/31/2013 13:44:401000 or moreYesACM, IEEEOur company buys a subscription7I work in research and often look for resources around HCI topics. There are far too many search results and papers are often very close to the same topic, even sciting each other. I wish there were some type of aggregator that would make it easier to get to the meat of the issue or the most relevant topic.
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1/31/2013 13:53:23Interaction Design1000 or moreYesCHIOur company buys a subscription, I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere9I work with a ton of researchers with academic backgrounds. They are super helpful when I'm looking for literature related to my current project.
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1/31/2013 22:17:28Curriculum design100-999YesInteractions, HCI journalsI know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere8Discussion guides or 1-page summaries (more detailed than abstracts but less intimidating than 12 pages and in more accessible language) might be helpful.
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2/1/2013 1:09:57design researcher1 (just you)Yesum, no... depends on the project, which means it's always a guessing gameI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere, I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable3I always want to use academic research because I feel we should be working together... but then the reality is that I usually don't know where to go and how to find the info I need quickly. On top of that, when I do find it, it frequently doesn't feel very relevant... Sigh! There needs to be a partnership of some kind I think to find the right balance.
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2/1/2013 2:01:03UX Design/User Research10-99YesCHII know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable7The most challenging barrier is not having access to the academic databases where academics are publishing. I have no idea how expensive subscriptions would be, but the per article price is usually high enough that I don't want to pay out of pocket and it's a pain to expense it or get clients to buy it.

Another barrier is the fact that I have to translate the article or paper into something my client can understand. They are wordy, written in complex or academic jargon-y language, and don't usually have a lot of visuals. I can handle all that just fine but my clients can't. Especially the lack of visuals.

Finally, I am someone who is interested in what the academic literature has to say, but I think there is a big contingent in design who is dismissive of anything academic. I think this is a symptom of art schools, to be honest, which sometimes leads people to adopt the old graphic artist philosophy that "if you can't do, you teach" and other such nonsense.

I am actually leaving industry to go into academia, and I'm interested in this issue. I intend to go back to industry some way and be a person who can navigate both worlds... I think that there is a real need for those types of people, people who are willing to publish in academic journals and also on industry sites, for example.
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2/1/2013 2:59:33Ux10-99YesIeeI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable, Piracy8
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2/1/2013 7:07:37Graphic design, UX Design, Lecturing in those1 (just you)YesJournal of Consumer Behaviour, Journal of Personality and Soc Psychology, Touchpoints, conferencesI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I have a subscription to the university library in my city7Experimental psychology is not at all practice-oriented and is hard to apply in research. Hardly anything from more 'applied' literature has proper psychological foundations... There's a large gap to be bridged and I don't know if academics are the ones to do this.
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2/1/2013 11:57:49Citizen-centred design1000 or moreYesOur company buys a subscription7We only have access to one database at work - which is very limiting. I do find copies of PDFs via google scholar posted in institutional repositories and by authors. It's getting much easier to access them... But I imagine only a fraction is available in this way. You should post this survey on the ux stack exchange boards. I'm quite interested in your findings.
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2/1/2013 15:42:46
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2/1/2013 20:46:22Digital product design1000 or moreYesJournal of IA, CHII found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), Can't remember2Paywalls and bad writing. Very little relevance to my daily work.
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2/1/2013 20:47:49ux100-999YesnopeI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable6Only ever found a fully available paper freely available once. The rest of the time, you have to go on abstracts, which more often than not are not enough.
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2/1/2013 22:10:43service design1 (just you)YesI cannot remeber now, I used a lot of themI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I paid the publisher's fee to read an individual article8
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2/1/2013 22:20:39User interface design10-99NoToo expensive to access, Too difficult / complicated to access, Too overwhelming to know where to beginYes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated), Yes, if free to accessNoThe industry regularly shares and publishes its findings for free in magazines, on blogs and at conferences. In contrast accedemics only publish in sanctioned journals read and accessesable only to other academics purely because of the "academic credit" they receive rather than through a genuine desire to educate and share.
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2/1/2013 22:28:24software10-99YesCHII know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)4
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2/1/2013 22:54:27Web10-99Not sureNot really sure what it isI don't know, because I haven't seen enough to be able to tell whether it's actually relevant to my jobNope
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2/1/2013 23:22:29Digital product design2/9/2013NoToo difficult / complicated to access, Too overwhelming to know where to beginI don't know, because I haven't seen enough to be able to tell whether it's actually relevant to my jobPapers and similar are a waste if time. Academics should be blogging and getting interviewed in mainstream media / sites.
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2/2/2013 0:00:32Mobile apps1000 or moreYesACMOur company buys a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)9At university and my current employer I had a subscription. Many times papers are only available under subscription; some academics tend to keep copies of their papers elsewhere, which makes Google Scholar more useful.
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2/2/2013 0:14:22interaction design2/9/2013Yeschi, ubicomp, TEI, Design issues etc.. etc..I'm an academic as well as a practitioner4In my experience academic research helps illustrate, or provide background for a design rationale, stance or methodology. However it rarely drives or dictates design outcomes.

In HCI, lab research is too decontextualised for insights to be of direct applicability to practice. In academic speak its ecological validity is somewhat dubious.


Good luck with your research Dan.


Gonzalo.
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2/2/2013 7:51:42UX design100-999YesConference: HCI People & ComputerI read no academic journal8The main barrier is the pace. Often research results are flying in to late, to be relevant. The internet world has moved in between.
Additionally it would help to have better summaries. As a practitioner, I'm interested in the results first, then, if I doubt them, I want to understand the motivation of the researcher and/or the methodology. But even there, a summary is enough. Keep the details stored away - give me the core.
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2/2/2013 11:54:32Geotechnical Engineering1000 or moreYesJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental EngineeringOur company buys a subscription, I know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere, I use my university student access as a part time student10I really should not be costing the draconian figures it is currently costing for journal subscriptions since the publishers don't have high costs at all, and they aren't exactly adding highly innovative value to the work of academics. Perhaps individual universities should come together and start hosting the works of their researchers instead, instead of paying those oh so hefty fees.
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2/2/2013 12:47:46User experience design1 (just you)YesInteractionsI buy my own subscription9They recently made the site easier to use and also to find articles
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2/2/2013 14:16:57multiplatform web design100-999NoToo expensive to access, Too overwhelming to know where to beginI don't know, because I haven't seen enough to be able to tell whether it's actually relevant to my job, Yes, if cheap to access, Yes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated)I usually don't even go down the route of looking at academic research because I assume it won't be (a) as up to date as thinking I can find elsewhere and (b) it's not a regular resource I can ask my company to look into accessing. It's not tailored to a design-making audience, it seems like.
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2/2/2013 15:06:55Product design2/9/2013Yesnature, pnas, plos computational biologyI know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)10
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2/2/2013 15:08:30service design10-99Yeslift conferenceI know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable8For two years i teached design (service design MA course at AHO oslo) 50% and freelanced 50%. Through this combination my work gained significant input from the academic material i teaches/researched. Now that i am full time hired in a design consultancy, i miss this connection and the impact i felt it had on my work.
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2/2/2013 15:38:48Urban Design/ Landscape10-99NoToo expensive to access, Too difficult / complicated to access, Over commercialisation of market and its demandYes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated), Yes, if free to accessAcademicians and researchers do their studies to reflect a difference in the way we think, to radically look at the conditions. If the access gets easier, we would probably cut the chase, and test and implement ideas much more efficiently; in the benefit of the society.
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2/2/2013 15:59:15Interaction design1000 or moreYesI know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)8Easier access to free articles. Maybe also easier to find and share with peers.
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2/2/2013 17:39:00Interaction design1000 or moreYesOur company buys a subscription, I know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable10Most relevant papers are not free and carry a substantial amount of fee. So, I ended up just reading abstracts to gauge what the paper might have said. It feels like not only judging, but also reading a book by its cover!
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2/2/2013 18:16:40games/interaction2/9/2013Yesgdc, ixdaI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)4depends on the job.
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2/2/2013 19:09:12Product Design1 (just you)Not sureToo difficult / complicated to accessYes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated)Anthropomentric Data of Indian Children
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2/2/2013 22:10:15Web & Mobile Design10-99YesNoI know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable, I paid the publisher's fee to read an individual article6I would love better alerts when new (relevant) research is available, I would like better search tools to find answers to pertinent questions we face, I would like greater (cheaper) access to these resources.
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2/2/2013 23:14:26data visualization2/9/2013Yesphysorg.comI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable, twitter10The barriers I've experienced, which may be true for many, is that I am generally unfamiliar with scientific concepts expressed as mathematical equations (and those concepts that have direct relation to them).

The service that I would like to create to resolve this issue (hopefully) would be aesthetic and coherent visualizations/sonifications of the data and concepts. I am working on designing a network model to give academics, artists, and anyone who may be interested open source access to these images,sounds and accompanying texts with control enabled to selected groups of users to manipulate and add to the works.
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2/3/2013 0:20:53Product design 100-999YesUbi com, connected communities, design issues, visual sociology Our company buys a subscription6Practical knowledge lacks at times.
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2/3/2013 5:03:55interaction design2/9/2013Not sureToo difficult / complicated to access, Too overwhelming to know where to beginYes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated), Yes, if free to access
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2/3/2013 7:45:02User Experience100-999NoToo expensive to access, Too difficult / complicated to accessYes, if cheap to access, Yes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated)SXSW
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2/3/2013 9:00:11interaction design1000 or moreYesCHII found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)4
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2/3/2013 10:25:31service/UX design10-99YesCHI, Ubicomp, Journal of Pervasive ComputingOur company buys a subscription, I buy my own subscription, I know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable9Some academic research is incredibly useful: it's provided frameworks and insights that I've been able to build on in industry work. It doesn't have to be practical, good theory is just as useful.

Some, from an industry perspective, is stating the bleeding obvious. I've been to CHI twice and Ubicomp once. CHI has nuggets, Ubicomp was a terrible circle jerk of the usual suspects. No-one was remotely interested in talking to my colleague and I because we weren't academics.

Another thing is presentation. I'm comfortable reading academic HCI papers as I come from a social science background, but some are still terribly dry and poorly written. Many of my design-educated colleagues find this much more challenging (just as I find many things difficult which they do with ease). But academics need to reach this audience for their knowledge to be used. I'm not suggesting they dumb it down, but some of them really need to learn to write more clearly and many are terrible presenters. The standard academic presentation structure is a problem here as much as poor training and uncharismatic style and there's clearly pressure to conform; I overheard lots of moaning at Ubicomp about one presenter who'd done more than just read out bullet points presentation 'trying to be Steve Jobs'.

Cost of access is a massive issue of course: I know where to look and still can't afford anything that's not on Google Scholar or ACM DLib. For many designers simply knowing where to look, and even thinking to look in the first place, are enormous barriers. If there was an expectation that they'd find something interesting and easily digestible, I'm sure more would look.

In short, designers need to work a bit harder to look, but we need open access and more academics need to learn to do what you do, and make their research accessible to a broad audience.

Thanks for bringing this up :)
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2/3/2013 11:27:48Digital design100-999YesEr noI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)8I chose very useful above but there's scarce amount of articles available. I do find it strange that in my little team we'll give a lot of weight to a blog post and not bother to unpick it or spend time verifying what it's saying. I really think time and accessibility would be two key things - and by time I mean at least write the summary in plain English.
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2/3/2013 16:26:20User experience and user interface100-999YesI was invited to attend a single lecture on HCI by a phd student1I have no idea how to get access to further academic research. Open access would be fantastic.
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2/3/2013 16:44:55Human Centered Designer for business models1000 or moreYesApplied Anthropology, HBRI buy my own subscription, I know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere, I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable, I paid the publisher's fee to read an individual article7I usually consult someone in the field and ask for articles. I occasionally pay for this as well and get a list of articles to review usually in the applied anthropology space. Key wording would be helpful, it is still hard to fi d things even in the age of google.
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2/4/2013 0:26:15Interaction Design1000 or moreYesI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable8
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2/4/2013 4:51:24ux design10-99NoNever needed toNot really
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2/4/2013 16:21:35interior design graphic design exhibition design brands strategies furniture10-99YesDesign Management ReviewI know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable, person in our studio has access to journals 2There needs to be more of a connect between academic research and design practice. Academic theories are not practical and should be made relevant to practice - written in plain english
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2/5/2013 12:04:27software10-99YesyesI buy my own subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared)10
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2/5/2013 15:58:23interaction design10-99YesCHI / anything on the ACM.org siteMy old company used to have a subscription6It's extremely time-consuming to find relevant articles, and I just don't have enough time on most of my projects.

Access is also a huge issue. I don't have a subscription at my current company (it's a small place), and very few articles are published for free online. I would pay for some if I knew they would be worthwhile, but it's often difficult to tell this strictly from their abstracts.

I would love professionals to collate key academic articles somewhere so it's easy to find the most relevant papers when starting a new project. Anything that could save me time would be incredibly helpful.
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2/5/2013 17:43:34From Graphic Design to Service Design2-9YesJournal of Consumer PsychologyOur company buys a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere10Places like JStor just need better and clearer subscription models. They seemed to be geared toward academic institutions. Small businesses need access too and are willing to pay for it. We just need a subscription model that fits our needs.
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2/7/2013 17:24:26Graphic Design1 (just you)NoToo difficult / complicated to accessYes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated)no
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2/8/2013 12:37:11Sustainability1000 or moreNoToo difficult / complicated to accessYes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated)NatureIndustry doesn't know about research and even if it did a great deal of it is not directly relevant or applicable at the coal face
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2/11/2013 3:15:42Typeface design2-9YesTypography papersI ordered a copy of the issue2There is a lot of shockingly bad research done in the field of type and reading. The only useful academic research I've found in my field is strictly limited to history.
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2/11/2013 10:30:47Enterprise software UX1000 or moreYesNoKnow some academics7Often, the academic papers I've read have not been from my field, but from other fields which have areas of overlap.
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2/12/2013 0:58:18Interaction Design100-999YesACM TEI ConferenceOur company buys a subscription, I buy my own subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere, Library7
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2/12/2013 12:09:15ux research (qualitative)1 (just you)NoNever needed to, Too expensive to access, Too difficult / complicated to access, Too overwhelming to know where to beginYes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated), Yes, if free to accessI come from an academic background and had to 'delearn' thinking in an academic way. The articles are mostly a pain to read, but I think the academic world and the practices world could really learn from each other (planning on giving a talk about that soon).
In my experience, (2007), it is hard to find articles that are actually relevant to the subject you want to know about (metadata?). Maybe that's better now, I don't know. Also, it's too incremental (small steps) without an easy way to understand what insight leads to what. Practice wants quick insights that can be used immediately (so blogs will be used more often than academic articles.) Good luck!
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2/12/2013 20:13:52user experience100-999YesInformation design journalcollege library8
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2/15/2013 19:41:25visual comminication10-99Not sureToo overwhelming to know where to beginI don't know, because I haven't seen enough to be able to tell whether it's actually relevant to my job, Yes, if cheap to access, Yes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated), Yes, if free to access
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3/2/2013 15:13:34industrial design10-99YesIET, IMechEn New ScientistOur company buys a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I used a printed / photocopied copy from somewhere, I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable7
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3/5/2013 11:49:34service and website design2-9YesI buy my own subscription, I know someone (e.g. a student) with a subscription, I found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I paid the publisher's fee to read an individual article4
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3/8/2013 10:10:48interaction design10-99YesInternational Journal of Human-Computer StudiesOur company buys a subscription4Most research I've come across is very niche and (for obvious reasons!) written in dense academic language. I get a sense of what's being written by having Google alerts set up for certain journals and areas I'm interested in. With limited time at my disposal, it would be useful to have a sense of what kind of work is going on in a distilled and clarified format.
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7/9/2013 4:50:56Engagement Design2-9YesI found the full text of the article online (either open-access, or otherwise shared), I actually just read the abstract, or an extract that was freely viewable6Industry moves so quickly and academic journals usually trail design thinking. So I find journals not very useful. Slideshare is a much better place to get academic thinking out quickly so people can use it. BJ Fogg at Stanford is a good example here.
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4/19/2015 16:59:10web app interaction design10-99NoYes, if cheap to access, Yes, if easier to access (better search, relevant material curated), Yes, if free to accessDUXU, SIGCHII graduated from grad school in 2013 and already feel like I'm loosing touch with the larger academic conversations, getting too focused into my little corner of IxD.
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