There is a long tradition in research on design methods and methodology (cf. e. g. Cross, 1984, Bürdek, 2005). Despite methodological research in design seems to be abating (cf. Bonsiepe, 2007) due to changing demands for products, changing technology and organisational constraints on design processes, design methods underly persistent development (cf. e. g. Clarkson & Eckert, 2005).
During the decades of research on design methods, no overall agreement about a consistent research methodology has been established. In accordance with the richness of design research, there are different research approaches on the investigation of design methods (cf. e. g. conferences and other events of the Design Research Society and The Design Society). Within a PhD work concerning design methods, these research methods must be discussed. Since research methods are more or less just means for research within a limited frame, they should be selected carefully but also efficiently.
Within this paper, a distinct example of research on design methods will be used to discuss criteria for the selection of appropriate research methods within a PhD work. Starting with a rough description of the original research problem, the development of certain design methods will be depicted in order to derive a research question. The second part of the paper will emphasize on the core of this contribution, namely possibilities of scientific research on design methods and the selection of appropriate methods for empirical investigation on design methods.