A Visual Thesis? (2001)

RUST, C. WILSON, A (2001) A Visual Thesis? Techniques for Reporting Practice-Led Research, Proceedings of the 4th European Academy of Design Conference, Aveiro, Portugal, April 2001 68-72

A Visual Thesis? Techniques for Reporting Practice-Led Research

This paper describes and discusses the development of Graham Whiteley’s PhD thesis, our first practice-led doctoral project at Sheffield Hallam University. Although a great deal has been said about the artefact as thesis or artefacts in a thesis not much has been done publicly to understand the problem and develop practical approaches. Arguably doctoral students are the last people to take responsibility for developing fundamentally new approaches to research so it falls to the supervisors, in this case myself and Adrian Wilson, to come up with a strategy. I’m particularly indebted that Adrian, as a scientist, was sufficiently intrigued by the problems of this novel project to make a very substantial contribution to working out how to do it what he saw as an artistic environment.

download full paper from archive.org


This paper describes an approach taken to the use of visual material as a significant part of PhD thesis in an Industrial Design research project. The aspiration to make creative work central to the thesis has been debated in a wide range of disciplines, but there are few examples of successful practice, especially in design. The authors sought to make visual material central to the process of developing a PhD thesis and worked with a research student to put this into practice. The process was beneficial to both the student and his audience and it is hoped that this approach provides a starting point for further development of practice-based research

The paper was subsequently published unchanged in the Swedish journal, Designjournalen

Rust,C. Wilson,A. (2001) A Visual Thesis? Techniques for reporting practice-led research, Designjournalen, Stockholm 8,1 23-29


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