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Abstract

Practice-based research in art and design is the focus of postgraduate programmes at many universities. The term is useful when practice constitutes a critical part of the research methodology resulting in a form of research through practice. This study uses one such postgraduate programme to examine student researchers’ understanding of their practice-based research methods, organisation of their studio processes and awareness of learning. A structured interview was used to investigate: 1) how artists and designers use documentation as part of their creative practice; 2) what forms and processes constitute this activity; 3) what the artist’s or designer’s perception is of the role documentation plays in their practice-based research and 4) the perceived positive or negative impacts resulting from the practice of active documentation of creative work. The context of the work is the wider debate around defining the role of the artefact as part the research process in art and design and the relationship between linguistic and non-linguistic components in the articulation of practice-based research. The results reveal some of the ways in which new researchers begin to understand and ultimately take control of their working methods, including the generation of new artefacts, the implementation of acquired knowledge and communication about significant processes. The results add to our understanding of the way in which artists and designers perceive the transition from professional practice to research practice.

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