Class Time

These notes are the backbone of the seminar with exercises and additional material. You are welcome to take a look and read ahead, but not all information is self-contained or complete.

Activity 1: What is Knowledge?

Step 1: (Individual) Come up with a good definition for what constitutes valuable knowledge:

Step 2: (In Team, on the whiteboard.) Discuss your solutions, and merge them together to an improved version that covers the most important aspects.

Conclusion: Make notes from the conclusion in class. What constitutes knowledge?

Scaling Up: Validation

We have learned that a full evaluation is often not feasible. Instead, a validation tries to “justify that a treatment would contribute to stakeholder goals if implemented” and “The goal of validation is to predict how an artifact will interact with its context, without actually observing an implemented artifact in a real-world context.”

Usually, a validation is done in an lab or under lab conditions, i.e., is not realistic. Therefore the idea of scaling up is interesting.

Scaling up means to work under more and more realistic conditions.  

Design Cycle and Empirical Cycle

The design cycle that we already covered in the preparation is used to solve design problems.

The design cycle. Adapted from [@Wieringa:2014].  

Analogously, there is a cycle to answer knowledge questions, and it is called the empirical cycle. Since its detailed content is highly dependent on your specific work area, we cannot cover it in detail here in this seminar.

The empirical cycle. Adapted from [@Wieringa:2014].  

The illustration below illustrates how design cycle and empirical cycle can fit together in a thesis: The spiral in the center are the iterations of the design cycle. They trigger knowledge questions, for instance to understand the problem context, answer questions about an artifact, or perform a validation. Whenever that happens, the design cycle triggers iterations of empirical cycles. (Don’t take this illustration too literally. It is an illustration, not a fixed instruction.)

How design cycles and empirical cycles are connected.  

Conclusion: What should a thesis cover, with regard to design cycles and empirical cycles?

Design Science for Your Thesis

With what you know by now, you should be able to outline the big picture of your thesis with regard to design science. The scheme on the next page should guide you through this process and stimulate important questions you should be aware of.

There are three areas in the scheme:


Worksheet to fill out for your thesis. Click the image for the full-scale PDF.  

Critique from classmate:

What will I improve? What will I work on?

After the discussion - what is important?

Steps Forward

This seminar is only the beginning of your work with your thesis. You got an introduction to some of the questions and taxonomy so that you are able to start asking the right questions and reading more on methodology. We propose the following steps forward:

Proposed steps forward from this seminar to your thesis.  
  1. Start thinking about your detailed thesis topic.
  2. Start thinking about the method you need. (This is where we are now.)
  3. Apply what you learned about methodology to your specific topic, for instance by filling out the design science scheme from above.
  4. Read more about methodology, for instance with the books recommended below or other material.
  5. While iterating through steps 3 and 4, also start planning for your thesis and write down the plan.

Do all of this in collaboration with your supervisors, and show them your plan. They may have valuable input, but remember that planning for the thesis is your own responsibility.

There are two specific books that we recommend for further work.

Final Tips