Week 3

Lecture 3 – Academic Creative Practice

“Following the definition of your research questioncomes the definition of your methodology,which explains the process,such as the making and the writing,that you’ll go through to answer or respond to your questions. Thinking about this research question:the start of my writing process and indeed my creative process is to form this research question or these research questions. Often,I think research is concerned not necessarily with finding out something you don’t know but with finding that you don’t know something. On many occasions,when we look at research what we’re actually doing is questioning what we think we know.”

“Not always, but research questions tend to be ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions. Continuing our theme of questions around graphic designers, a research question might be ‘why are there fewer female graphic designers in creative director roles?’ Now, this question requires analysis; it’s looking for explanations, relationships, comparisons, predictions. It’s a much more complex question. When beginning to think about your research question, make sure that you make that separation between what is a research question and what is intelligence gathering. Also, make sure that your research question is a question that you can respond to and if you are looking to answer it, make sure it’s a research question that you can actually answer. Don’t make it impossible.”

Felicity Hammond Photography – research.

Brown’s Questions:

•What did I do?
•Why did I do it?
•What happened?
•What do the results mean in theory?
•What do the results mean in practice?
•What is the key benefit for the people reading about this project?
•What remains unresolved?

“There’s that old trick that people talk about–make sure that if you showed your text to your mother or your father or your sister or a friend who knew nothing about what you were doing, that they could follow it, they could understand it. It’s a key point when you’re writing to make sure you understand who your audience is and make sure its accessible.”

A serialist versus a holist writer – I would consider myself a serialist:

“There’s a second style, which is serialists. Serialists plan their writing in detail before they write. They may sit with a piece of paper and write out very clear structures. They tend to write slowly and very methodically and there’s much less editing; every sentence is very clearly thought out. Funnily enough, sometimes I write like this myself, too. It depends what I’m writing about, but as I said, generally I think I’m more one of those kinds of people who just gets it all out.”

A holist is: “when you sit down with a piece of paper and you furiously write for hours on end until it’s all out of your head, and this style of writing generally involves creating a succession of drafts.For me, I can definitely see myself being a holist at points.”

“The key, when thinking about a long text, is headings. Good headings should accurately characterise your text. In a few short words, they should really give readers advance warning of what’s to come.”

“Make sure that when you conclude a section or a chapter or even a paragraph, that you gather up your key points.”

“There are two models which Phillips and Pugh look at. The first, they call a focus down model and this is essentially chronological. What we’re talking about here is doing a contextual review and then following that up with our research, which is practice, followed by reflection, followed by more practice and then finally, we’re coming to our conclusions. It’s quite a natural way of doing things but it’s also very expected, they call it potentially quite boring and I’m not sure I quite agree with that, but I can understand that it is the default way of doing things. The second model they look at is the opening out model, which is when you prioritise the research first. You very quickly set up what you’re interested in and a little bit about the general area you’re looking at and then you go straight into the research, and actually the context of your research comes at the end, perhaps even within an appendix. This is a much more challenging way to write but again, their perception of it is that you can end up with a much more interesting document because you’re not asking people to wade through a huge amount of context before you get to the interesting stuff.”

“The first thing I would say is when you write, you want to write in a style that is critically analytical versus a style that is descriptive. What do I mean by that? Descriptive writing states what happened whereas critical analytical writing identifies the significance. To give you some examples:descriptive writing says when something occurred, whereas critical analytical writing identifies why the timing is important. Descriptive writing might list details, whereas critical analytical writing would show the relevance of links between key pieces of information. Descriptive writing might give information, whereas critical analytical writing actually draws conclusion. To give you a couple more examples:descriptive writing might state the order in which things happened, whereas critical analytical writing might make more reasoned judgements. Descriptive writing might explain how something works, whereas critical analytical writing might indicate why something works. You can see the differences there and it’s really important when you’re doing academic writing not just to describe everything that’s happened. You’ve got to engage with the idea of criticality in your writing.”

“Next, from a style perspective, is make sure that you use verbs or signal verbs that match the action. These examples are taken from a book called They Say/ I Say by Graff and Birkenstein, which, again, is in the bibliography. When we talk about using signal verbs that match the action, what we mean is don’t say things like ‘she says’ or ‘they believe’,instead use signal verbs such as ‘urge’ or ‘emphasise’ or ‘protest’. If we think about verbs for making a claim, we can use words such as ‘argue’, ‘assert’, ‘claim’ and even ‘insist’. When we think about verbs for expressing agreement, we can talk about ‘acknowledge’, ‘admire’ or ‘endorse’. When we talk about verbs for questioning, we can talk about somebody advocating something or urging something or warning of something.”

“When we talk about precision, you can’t just say ‘there were a lot of people’ you need to say,‘there were 750,000 people’ or ‘1,000,000 people’ or ‘five people’. You need that precision.”

“References and citations are really important. References show awareness of other people’s work, and that you can use their findings. Again, we’re coming back to the idea of critical analytical thinking and critical analytical writing.It shows where your contribution fits in, and references and citations support the points that you’re making. Never quote anything if you’re not using it to make a point. You’d be amazed at how many people use it in a way that seems to be just to increase the word count.”

“Your word length tends to include everything except your bibliography: footnotes, endnotes, appendices, tables, figures, diagrams, everything. You’re not going to get away with sneaking extra words in by sticking them in a table or a diagram. Again, word length is very strict so always be aware of that and always try and come in before the word length because you’ll probably always want to add things at the end.”

Zotero – free bibliography generator.

Lecture 3 – Professionally / Studio/ Credentials Orientated Report

“The level of transparency here makes it really quite fascinating. To contextualise it for us, I feel like if you were to take the route of trying to piece together some kind of professional package that would explain and outline the kind of services your business offers,or is set to offer, some of the processes that you might be interested in using and establishing, this is a fantastic way to start compiling some of these materials.”

  • HAWRAF have done something that is rare and shown the world what the ‘behind the scenes’ looks like when running a design studio. I think this is really clever, and honest as many will look to them for inspiration – particularly as the company didn’t dissolve as a result of the business model, it was just closed because they couldn’t work as a team. Maybe this instance is rare in itself and this is why we don’t see many companies doing this like they did?

“Call me a cynic but I think one potential reason that they did this is that this is a genius piece of brand positioning for each of them individually. To be the people who were prepared to show us the inner workings of their company and to give away some of the industry secrets, if you will, is a very crafty move. For all the people who did know about Hawraf while they were operating, I think you can probably multiply that to at least the power of 100 or 1000 in terms of the people who know about them now, due to the waves that this made, certainly in the design and journalism world and the community.”

  • This is like the ‘afterlife’ of a business, if it were. In sustainability you think about the product/service existing beyond the main focus itself – and HAWRAF’s site reminds me of this! It has kept the company alive; it isn’t a live, fully functioning company anymore but it’s redeeming all of the work that went into the company in the first place; the hundreds of documents and time that it took to create HAWRAF. I think it’s a wonderful thing to showcase.

“I hope something like this will help to convince you that if I were to come to you as an individual and ask you to design a logo for me and a huge multinational company was to come to you and ask you for exactly the same amount and piece of work, I hope that you’re comfortable charging them a far, far higher fee than you are charging me.”

  • When charging for design, consider how big that company is and their global reach. If a company only reaches 500 people a month, you would significantly charge less than a company like McDonalds for instance which gets 100,000’s of customers a month.

Lost business feedback form: Personally I think this is great and a super way to improve your business with time. People will appreciate that you took the time to ask ‘why’ and maybe you could improve for future – in which case the business who gave you feedback may then become a client:

  • The video was insightful as the main take away I got from this was to really consider and monitor your finances and align that with projects. Things like tax, gaps in-between work and between invoices being paid can all be enough to take a business down.
  • Be transparent with your clients and their budget straight away. You don’t waste your time!
  • Be transparent as a team too; address problems and be professional if things aren’t working.