Exhibition as Research Dissemination (2003)

RUST, C. ROBERTSON, A. (2003) Show or Tell? Opportunities, problems and methods of the exhibition as a form of research dissemination Proceedings of 5th European Academy of Design Conference, Barcelona, April 2003

Show or Tell? Opportunities, problems and methods of the exhibition as a form of research dissemination

I wrote this paper with Alec Robertson as our reflection on the experience of organising the exhibition for the 2002 Design Research Society conference, “Common Ground”, at Brunel University. It was a practical exercise to see how a research exhibition might work out.

Download Full paper from archive.org


There has a been a good deal of debate about the possible use of exhibitions in disseminating research, as an alternative to conventional text papers where artefacts have a significant role in the research The European Academy of Design has been a pioneer in this area but, so far, there has been little documentation of this practice or constructive reflection to support future development.

The authors were responsible for the organisation of an exhibition of research work at the 2002 “Common Ground” Conference of the Design Research Society. Their role included mentoring the exhibitors, making the practical arrangements for the exhibition and organising refereeing of exhibits by an international panel of referees. The exhibition demonstrated the potential for new forms of research dissemination but also highlighted a number of problems and issues which must be dealt with if future exhibitions are to provide a robust and appropriate way to present and record research outcomes.

The reflections of the organisers, and comments of referees and exhibitors are employed in this paper to develop guidelines for future practice in research exhibitions, paying particular attention to the importance of providing a full narrative within the exhibit and a permanent record, and ways that exhibitions might change the format of conferences to allow more constructive engagement between participants.


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