OUGD601: Resolving your Research Project and Academic Conventions

Introduction - what you’re going to address, how you’re going to address it. 

In this lecture I wish to look at a not uncommon way of writing and structuring books, dissertations and theses. This approach, I will argue, involves the writer announcing at the outset what he or she will be doing in the pages that follow. The default format of academic research papers and textbooks, it serves the dual purpose of enabling the reader to skip to the bits that are of particular interest and — in keeping with the prerogatives of scholarship — preventing an authorial personality from intruding on the material being presented. But what happens when this basically plodding method seeps so deeply into a writer’s makeup as to constitute a neutralisation of authorial voice, a limitation, a faux-objectivity?

DERRIDA, J. (1987) Glas, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press

Academic Conventions are like an institutional framework for your work
They structure and standardise
They aspire to academic honesty

At this level you are expected to be able to:
Demonstrate a critical knowledge of practice
Apply theory to practice
Analyse relevant material
Evaluate theory and evidence within the context of study
Reflect – critiquing and critically reflecting on your learning and using this to improve practice.

Surface Approach

Concentration on Learning Outcomes
Passive acceptance of ideas
Routine memorisation of facts
Sees small chunks
Ignore guiding patterns and principles
Lack of reflection about, or ignorance of, underlying patterns and theories
Little attempt to understand
Minimal preparation or research

Independent engagement with material
Critical and thoughtful about idea and information
Relates ideas to own previous experience and knowledge
Sees the big picture 
Relates evidence to conclusions
Examines logic of arguments
Interested in wider reading and thinking
Ongoing preparation and reflection

How do I evidence deeper learning?

Academic writing is formal and follows some standard conventions
Each academic discipline has its own specialist vocabulary which you will be expected to learn and use in your own writing
The substance of academic writing must be based on solid evidence and logical analysis, and presented as a concise, accurate argument.
Academic writing can allow you to present your argument and analysis accurately and concisely. 

Aim for precision. Don’t use unnecessary words or waffle. Get straight to the point. Make every word count.
If there is any uncertainty about a particular point, use cautious language (such as ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘could’, ‘potentially’).
Unless you are a confident writer, it is best to avoid over-long sentences and to aim for a mixture of long and short sentences for variation and rhythm.
Avoid repeating the same words

Terrible example of writing

Avoid Abbreviations and Contractions
Avoid slang words and phrases
Avoid conversational terms
Avoid vague terms

In many academic disciplines, writing in the first person is not acceptable as it is believed to be too subjective and personal. Many tutors prefer impersonal language to be used in assignments. 

First person sentences use the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’.  For example:
We have considered...
I suggest that...
I have observed...

First person sentences use the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’.  For example:
Consideration has been given to...
The suggestion here is that...
It has been observed...

Preliminaries-          Title / Acknowledgements / Contents /  List of Illustrations
Introduction- The abstract / Statement of the problem / Methodological approach
Main body- Review of the literature / logically developed argument /Chapters / results of investigation / Case Study
Conclusion- Discussion and conclusion / Summary of conclusions
Extras –        Bibliography / Appendices

Ask yourself why are you really stuck?
Avoid negativity
Picture what being ‘unstuck’ would look like


Becoming Unstuck

Project Self Assessment 

Write down the major aims of the project
Give a brief summary of the work so far
Comment on your time management
Do you know what the final project will look like?
What steps will you take to ensure it gets there?
What areas of the project are you worried about?
What ‘risk management’ plans do you have?
How are you going to use the remaining tutorials?

Running Out of Time

15th Jan- 7 weeks away
Refer to your original plan
Be more disciplined than ever
Don’t prioritise the practical over the written element, or vice versa.
Set targets
Scale down your ambitions if necessary

Some Other General Advice

Presentation / Academic Conventions. Refer to the guides on eStudio carefully.

Harvard Referencing

Author (date) Title Place Publisher

MILES, R. (2013) Why Referencing, Leeds: LCA Publishing
Miles, R. (2013) Why Referencing, Leeds: LCA Publishing
MILES, R. (2013) Why Referencing, Leeds: LCA Publishing
Miles, R. (2013) ‘Why Referencing’, Leeds: LCA Publishing

‘quote’ (surename, page, year)

‘I have no idea how to reference’ (Miles, 2013:7)
‘I have no idea how to reference’ (Miles, 2013, p.7)
“I have no idea how to reference” (Miles, 2013, p.7)
“I have no idea how to reference” (Smith in Miles, 2013, p.7)


In this lecture I have attempted to highlight the simultaneous necessity and limitations of a variety of academic conventions that institutionally frame research at undergraduate level. Put in slightly different terms, the necessity and limitations of structure per se. In doing so I hope to have broadly outlined a method for academic writing and the presentation of research in such work. As has been suggested, the contradictory nature of research sources on this topic can be disorienting for the budding researcher and, because of this, the importance of each individual finding consistent, but workable and personal, methods and approaches cannot be over-emphasised. Ultimately, ‘the default format’ of academic research, alluded to throughout, is one of many institutional codes, or discourses, that we have to learn to operate within, or perhaps subvert from within. The success of this maneuvre will ultimately determine ‘success’ in institutional terms, in the form of a grade but, hopefully, not at the expense of ‘success’ in different terms, be they creative, artistic, personal or such like. 

OUGD601: Lecture // Methodologies & Critical Analysis


How the information you have found is…


You need to clearly evidence why you selected these methods of gathering information and selecting evidence and why they are most appropriate for your study

This will make you appear to be in control and aware of what you are doing…

Dictionary Definition 




These can help you decide upon these methods you use. Alternatively the martial you find may suggest the appropriate theories. 

Dictionary Definition

Choose at least one key theory that relates to the material you are looking at….

Shannon-Weaver Model



Social History / Marxist

Post Colonial Analysis

Feminist - different types of feminism 


Action Research

There is an endless list of possibilities…

Important - Choose the theories and methods most appropriate to your subject


1. Methods 2. Theories 3. Application

1. Make decisions about how to collect and order information

2. Choose a theoretical stand point

3. Apply these to your study

4. Explicitly outline this in the introduction. Address suggested failings in the conclusion. 

Make sure your project has direction. Assure a rigorously thought-out methodology from the start. 


Different chapters outlining different parts of your study. 

Introduction - outline the methodology. Break down the different components of the analysis.


Outline a clear and consistent strategy. 

Critical Analysis

Weighing up different sides of an argument. 

Making a selection based on an informed decision. 

Stepping away and using evidence and logic to come to your conclusion. 

Have an idea, don’t assume it’s correct, be critical and evaluate different stand points.

Awareness of perspectives 

Two things which are quality correct. 


Where was the author/artist/designer/photographer situated?

Being skeptical about the sources

Freud has been debunked by more modern theories

Try to consider different points of view

Has it been supported by other theories?

Has it been rejected or challenged by other theories?

Where was the creator coming from intellectually?

Where am I coming from?

How it my choice of topic influenced by my emotions; aspirations; context?


Context is everything

Nothing exists in a bubble, they’re influenced and produced by society, prejudices and pre-juxtopositons 

Consider the influence of one or more of the following;

the time; place; society; politics; economics; technology; philosophy; scientific thought…



What is the evidence for what you are saying?

It’s not right or wrong, it needs to support your subjective take on the topic.

Supporting research - quotes, research, experiments and observation.

You need your own opinion.

Could you find more evidence to support your conclusions?

Distill all the evidence, summaries it, then come to a ultimate answer








What do I want to say?

Have I got the evidence to back it up?

Where else do I need to look in order to find more evidence?



Pitting alternative theories against the same body of data

Using multiple approaches to a topic to compare and contrast to find the most relevant

Or perhaps even complementary theories

Theory X says [information] Theory Y says [conflicting information] Theory Z says [takes one side, or the other]

Am I expressing myself clearly and logically?


A clear logical plan

Keep it simple - refine what you want to say and focus on a few key issues

Looking into your key issues in depth and bring in the maximum evidence in to support your views.

Discuss your issues and the evidence you have found in a clear local manner

More from the general to the specific

OUGD601: Lecture // Organising Your Research Project

Doing your research project - Judith Bell

371.3 - Library 

6,000-9,000 word written element, and related practical work.

Minimum 2.5 hours 1 on 1 support on the written element of the module - and additional support for the practical.

Deadline - 15th of Jan, 4pm

15 weeks

Try to have a substantial draft submitted by Christmas

Project Overview

Start thinking about how those initial ideas are going to be turned into a dissertation and a synthesised project

Write down all the questions you want to investigate, about your topic. 

Consider each on their merits and focus on two (primary & secondary)

Write down first thoughts sheet for each question

What is the purpose of the study? Is your question researchable?

Working title - empathises can be changed. The work must relate to that title

Project Outline

Consider timing

Consider holidays/work/life

Think about you working title and the different component parts that need researching.

Allocate timings to each

Draw up a project outline based on the above

Allow generous time for initial reading and writing up

Factor in tutorials 

Literature Search

Reading takes more time than you think

How much can you actually read in 100 hours?

Start by trying to find out all the key texts on your chosen topic

Focus your reading based on an initial assessment of this survey

Finding key texts and plan time to read these

Find secondary sources / criticisms of key texts - triangulation 

Use journals


Start by compiling a bibliography at the beginning of the project

Reference everything as you go along

Include all details

OUGD601: [STUDIO BRIEF ? - BRIEF TITLE] // COP3 Proposal Presentation

As part of our COP3 proposals, we were asked to create a short, informal presentation, running over our ideas on what we want to do in COP3, and how we will research it over the summer. Listening to all the other ideas within the presentations, as I was last, due to being cursed with a alphabetically lagging second name, my ideas evolved slightly from what's pictured within this presentation. As I will explain below.
I want to direct my work towards something relating to the 'first things first' manifesto, as my essay will encompass freudian methods of marketing towards men, and designing for the bad, designing for people to purchase things they don't need, with money they don't have, to impress people they don't care about. Rather than designing for something good, like a charity.

 My idea is to apply the themes of consumerism, hidden persuasion and freudian methods to advertising, aimed at men, persuading them to spend on something good, rather than a commodity, in a nut shell.

OUGD505: STUDIO BRIEF 2 - An Exhibition Of // 'Cosmetics' Branding Research

I've conducted some quick research to develop how some cosmetics, such as soap, body wash and shampoo might be branded. Developing an idea of how existing brands apply their design to their products, I can do this to my own, which I will then integrate with the brand guidelines. 

I'm looking into a collateral range, in which cosmetic products are features, and I will explore how they directly relate to other products within the branding. 

The packaging using the colour schemes of the product throughout, in this case, the colours match that of the business cards.

The bottles use a wrap around label which contain the same branding as the bar soap packaging. 

The products all work as a whole. The consistent colour schemes, especially on the labels helps the product represent the brand more, and using the red and white string to tie the brand further to the rest of the collateral

OUGD505: STUDIO BRIEF 2 - An Exhibition Of // Ticket Design Research

OUGD501: End of Module Evaluation

OUGD501: STUDIO BRIEF 2 - Theory Into Practice // Final Product

I've created a product called Fertility, a piece of packaging designed to look like the majority of male fragrances on the market today. Using a limited amount of colours, and minimalistic packaging so the product 'stands on it's own'. Yeah.

Roman typography on the front of the packaging, to show it's traditional high class stature, reminiscent of type carved into marble, perhaps. With a gothic font underneath for the less important information. A developed system of hierarchy.

An outline image of the bottle inside the packaging, once again sporting the minimalist style throughout the packaging. To reflect the high class feel of the product, and the idea that it can stand on it's own, without elaborate packaging. 

The Synthesis of my practical element

The packaging, ‘Fertility; Fragrance For Men’ is designed to interact with the male audience. Based on Sigmund Freud’s theory of human nature and consumerism. The idea that all humans have suppressed animal instincts, such as sexual desires, which have no place in society; therefore they are ‘repressed’. My critical written element discussed the theme of consumerism targeted at the male audience. Sexual objectification, celebrity endorsement and ‘model envy’ which are used to convince and tempt the male audience to buy a product. Hoping that that product will become a gateway to the transformation of the consumer, into the image they have painted of themselves, forged through the product endorsement - making them look better, like the celebrity endorsing the product, for example.

Within the packaging, there is a 6ml bottle of fragrance. Extremely small, with a little amount of product within. The packing is 200mm in height, and 70mm in width and depth. The packaging is far larger than the product, deceptive, a fabrication-metaphor the male sex organ; a penis extension. A glorification, an exaggeration, similar to how a large majority of me portray themselves due to the to expectations of society - to which purchasing enhancing products is the answer, through the themes and ideas of consumerism.

OUGD501: STUDIO BRIEF 1 - Critical Analysis // Final Essay

Final Essay, for submission. How has the effects of Consumerism affected design in the early C20th? Focusing on the advertising aimed at the male audience, how advertising taps into their instinctual desires.

OUGD502: STUDIO BRIEF 2 - Design Presence // Branding Initial Research

Before I begin to design my branding for this project, I want to get an idea of what some other companies have branded themselves as, how they have used their logos, and how they have applied a brand to a product. 

I think the grid system the designer used to create this logo is wonderful. It allows for visual symmetry, within the logo, which in all results in a more aesthetically pleasing look, due to it's alignment.  

The designer has also laid out the iconography along with the fonts for the branding. I think this a really interesting way to present some of the essential parts of the design, which might often be over looked.


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