Practice research approach

The Creative Arts Research: ‘Doing Thinking’ workshop facilitated by Rachel Smith introduced me to the idea of practice research as an explicit activity that feeds off and feeds into my illustration practice. The analysis I completed for my first critical review also identified the area of research as a weakness; it is currently too ad hoc, reactive and lacks structure and direction.

The information in this page is my first attempt at defining the problem in more detail and designing an approach and structure to how I could incorporate research practice into my work going forward.

At this point I haven’t done any theoretical research into this area, and I’m sure that when I do my ideas and approach will change. So this is a starting point.

Strategies for becoming a practitioner – researcher

The following information was provided by Rachel Smith as introduction to the OCA workshop Creative Arts Research: Doing Thinking  and is copied verbatim from the Padlet:

Strategies that support a practice-as-research approach

  • Develop your investigation from the outset.
  • What issue are you wanting to explore? What is your intention?
  • Produce a timeline and consider adding in the different elements needed: practice activity, research (both primary and secondary), and critical analysis/reflection
  • Document all your processes, this will help you to capture your doing-thinking
  • Use theoretical reading to push your practice forward or frame your critical reflection
  • Use your practice to test and develop ideas which connect to your theoretical reading
  • Use your literature review to position your practice-research and use your practice to develop your review in a pertinent direction
  • Connect your work to contemporary debate and existing work

I will use this list the starting point for my investigation.

Research approach (version 1)

Develop your investigation from the outset

That is purpose of this exercise.

What issue are you wanting to explore? What is your intention?

The issues I currently want to explore are derived from my Assignment 6 – Critical review: What is the visual language of reportage and can it be learned and applied?

The analysis completed for this essay highlighted the areas I’m interested in developing as well as areas in my practice that need to be strengthened.

At a high level, the topic I want to explore with my research and my intention are expressed in the following problem statement:

How do I most efficiently and effectively improve my reportage/narrative illustration so that I can gain the confidence and strength of portfolio to get work

This high-level statement breaks down into a number of areas that will form my practice as research. They are listed in the the attached PDF.

Research roadmap activities v0.1

These have been derived from the critical review gap analysis.

Produce a timeline

Produce a timeline and consider adding in the different elements needed: practice activity, research (both primary and secondary), and critical analysis/reflection.

The timeline will run in parallel to the Visual Dynamics 2 coursework and to a certain extent I imagine the order in which different issues are addressed will be aligned to the shape and content of the unit.

Because I’m currently waiting for the course to be released I don’t yet have that information, so the best I can do is produce a roadmap that includes all of the elements I’m aware of. It should be relatively quick to use this to produce a timeline once the content of the Visual Dynamics 2 unit are understood.

Research roadmap v0.1
Draft practice/research roadmap

Note that there are some areas, theoretical review and literature review where I don’t yet know how of when to incorporate this into my process. These are blank in the roadmap. There are probably other areas I’m not aware of that will get added later.

Document all your processes

This will help you to capture your doing-thinking. 

My practice processes are documented in 5.3 What’s your working process?

The roadmap above is the start of documenting my research processes.

Theoretical reading

Use theoretical reading to push your practice forward or frame your critical reflection.

I do some theoretical reading although this is ad hoc and doesn’t have structure. I need to consider this aspect of my work against the overarching problem statement and the content of the Visual Dynamics 2 coursework. For example, another critical review/essay would provide good focus for theoretical reading/research.

Use your practice to test and develop ideas

Use your practice to test and develop ideas which connect to your theoretical reading.

My understanding of this statement is to turn knowledge into understanding through experience. I’m not sure there’s a specific activity to call out here apart from assessing this as part of the research reflection activity.

Use your literature review

Use your literature review to position your practice-research and use your practice to develop your review in a pertinent direction.

I interpret this to mean use research of current illustration practice to position my own practice as research activity, and then let my practice push the research in a relevant direction. I think this perfectly describes how I’m using the analysis and findings from my critical review to shape my research/practice activity.

Connect your work to contemporary debate and existing work

I think this is a consequence of the previous point.

Next steps

Relook at the Creative Arts Research: Doing Thinking  to see if there’s anything that will help me shape my research as practice activity further.

Come up with a practice research plan as a response to the Visual Dynamics 2 coursework and before I launch into doing any work. Validate this with my tutor.