Research in environmental design: Definitions and limits

Ann Forsyth, Katherine Crewe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Tenure committees and thesis preparation seminars around the world are raising questions about the character of research in the environmental design fields. What forms can such research take? How can it be judged? How is it related to the body of work known as scholarship? This paper examines these questions. Research engages with broadly important questions, systematically collecting and analyzing evidence, building on relevant earlier work, recognizing alternative explanations, and documenting and evaluating findings; it is subject to peer review and made public, all this with an overall goal of contributing to the knowledge base of a field. Scholarship does many of the same things as research, but there are some differences given that indicate research is a subset of scholarship. Specifically, scholarship does not necessarily involve the systematic collection and analysis of evidence with an aim to contribute to the knowledge base of a field, as in a scholarly approach to teaching, scholarly critiques of design concepts, and a scholarly approach to design investigation. Both scholarship and research are highly valuable activities. Clarification of their differences will allow design faculty to make more coherent arguments about the character of their academic work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-175
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Architectural and Planning Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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