The principle of reflexive practice

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'Practice what you preach' is a phrase occasionally used to refer to those not acting as they want others to act. There are countless opportunities in professional work and daily life to bring such criticism upon ourselves. While the subject is broad, this study focuses on the application of this idea in research practice, and more specifically in design research. One point of departure is the question: 'how should we practice research if its results are products just like other products?' The Principle of Reflexive Practice (PRP) states that considering the outcome of design research or research itself as a product, many design principles, tools, methods or knowledge are applicable to design research. A corollary of the principle is that in order to succeed in contemporary research environments, design researchers would gain significant benefit such as improving the success rate of their research projects, if they exercise design methods and tools in designing their research. By exercising these methods, researchers would gain quick and rich feedback about the methods they develop; they would become aware of issues that require users' perspective that could not be possible without their own practical use. The PRP makes participants in design research aware of the reflexive opportunity in studying design that could be mobilized to advancing their practice and making their research results more effective. Notwithstanding, adopting the PRP is not easy; therefore, it is presented as a challenge to design research. Four examples of using the PRP as a guiding principle in research are presented to demonstrate its importance and benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4
JournalDesign Science
StatePublished - 2017


  • design research
  • design science
  • reflection-in-action
  • research methodology
  • research practice


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