For research to have practical application in the real world, it needs to be translated and communicated. Researchers should seek ways to make their outcomes and findings accessible to a wide audience in the community. One way of doing this is by employing visual elements.
The Visualising Research initiative brings ECU design students and researchers together to develop visual interpretations that communicate research in an exciting way.
The designer and researcher work together in a co-creation process to find innovative visual solutions for communicating complex research.
The project is open to all honours, master by research and doctoral students, as well as staff researchers. Design students are normally enrolled in a design unit which encourages students to think about information design and how to best visualise complex data and communicate the research message effectively. The design students document the process of visualisation and this often reveals a shift in thinking – from simply designing an object for presentation, to a visualisation that applies design thinking as an essential part of the development process.
Design students gain skills in project management, content and information design, as well as employing Design Thinking principles such as co-creation and user-centred design. They’re encouraged to do their own research to acquire an understanding of the subject matter, even if it’s in a discipline they’re not familiar with.
The researcher effectively becomes a content-matter expert on the project and is deeply involved in the design process.
The result is a project that is strongly grounded in research, but uses design principles to develop visualisations that capture the nuances of the research. The end product should provide an exciting, engaging and effective way to communicate the research.
"The visualising research initiative is rapidly evolving beyond its initial scope of helping researchers from across ECU to uncover new, visual ways of presenting their research findings. Now researchers and design students are partnering to develop ways to frame research questions, and even looking beyond visuals towards better understanding the research audience. From the design point of view, the opportunity for the students to work with real clients, who aren’t the typical start-up company assumed to be the standard design client, has been invaluable."
Dr Stuart Medley, Unit Coordinator, School of Communications and Arts
Examples of visualisation methods developed by ECU researchers and designers include:
To see examples of visualisation projects, along with research abstracts, visit the Visualising Research gallery and abstracts.
For more information about becoming involved in the visualising research project, either as a researcher or a designer, contact Sharon Smart in the Graduate Research School.
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