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Issue 4.1

The Translation of Meaning

“Research,” “scholarship,” and “information gathering” are terms that can be used indiscriminately by faculty, practitioners, and students. An example of the conflation of terms occurred this past fall, as I participated in design reviews. One undergraduate student shared that he had researched aquaponics as part of his project’s development, and a graduate student exclaimed that “they all knew how to research.” However, it is more likely that these students had gathered information about the context, program, and building technologies. Too often “research” is used when seeking information rather than to describe the creation of new knowledge through systematic and methodological approaches or what some term “original research.” Perhaps we could recharacterize students’ predesign processes: they are forming important observations about a building site or a concept, but I might suggest that they are not researching.

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