1. The quality of being extremely thorough and careful

At Design Academy Eindhoven we ask of design researchers that they conduct their research rigorously. But how can this be achieved? Rigour does not entail the same thing for every type of research. Design research itself is already very diverse, it can be undertaken in different ways, and for different purposes, each requiring its own approach and methods. Without understanding the purpose of a particular design research project and, consequently, being able to judge the methods used for collecting, analysing and synthesising data in relation to that purpose, it will not be possible to establish the rigour with which it has been conducted.

In design research, and more generally in qualitative research, rigour is not dependent on results being replicable, as it is in quantitative (number-based) research. With qualitative research, results are created through the interpretation of data synthesised during analysis, which should be done in a way that is systematic and transparent, rather than replicable. Furthermore, the results created through rigorous design research must be transparent too, in other words, they must be clear and understandable for a particular audience in a particular setting – art lovers in a museum, tutors in a design school, or visitors in a community centre, etc..

Rigour is greatly improved if design research, and its results and claims, are accessible for critique. Critiquing builds rigour by contextualising and comparing approaches, methods, results, relevance and so on. To support the process of critiquing, and to demonstrate that a particular design research has been dealt with rigorously, it is helpful if the design researcher has documented the journey he or she has taken in order to achieve a particular result. Often the result alone may not demonstrate the amount of rigour that has gone into the process of creating it. Rigorous design research needs to demonstrate an awareness of existing knowledge, and acknowledge this by building on and referencing other research and relevant literature.

DAE examples

  • Gabriela Baka, On-going performance, Graduation project Master Information Design, 2014


  • Fallman, D. & Stolterman, E. (2010). Establishing Criteria of Rigor and Relevance in Interaction Design Research. In Proceedings of Create10, Edinburgh, June/July 2010.