Research Project Outline

Design projects with a complex nature that include design of many product components, specific user groups and services require more structured and systematic approach. Within these types of projects, in contrast to chaotic design process, product is designed phase by phase where each step builds a basis for the other. Below is an outline of a project-based research for master’s thesis in design. Some of these chapters are essential; others will depend upon the nature of the project.

Title of the Project
e.g. Bike-Share System Design for Elderly

“What was set out to do? How was it done? What results were obtained? “
This section is a summary of the objectives and accomplishments.

Table of Content
Chapters, sections, and subsections to the lowest levels of the thesis is listed in this section along with their page numbers. List of figures and tables should be included in this section as well.

1.1 Background of the Study
“Why is this topic so important? Why this issue needs to be uncovered? What is the motivation behind the study?”
The topic is introduced and the significance of the project is discussed in this section.
e.g. The older population, persons 60 years or older, are numbered 70 million in 2014 in the U.S, which is about one in every five Americans. Recent researches suggest that 90% of older residents avoid using Bike Share Systems, which represents the 18% of the total U.S. population. Considering the health and environmental benefits of the bike-share programs on the residents, it is crucial for cities to have bike-share systems that includes this potential.

1.2 Aim of the Study
“With this study what is intended to be discovered, experimented, improved and resolved?”
Overall goal of the study and what is tried to be discovered or resolved is outlined in this section.
e.g. Aim is to increase the use of Bike Share System among older residents in the U.S.

1.3 Scope of the Study
“What areas are going to be covered in this study and what areas are not in interest of this study?”
Areas that are going to be focused and not focused are defined in this section. Remember that everything cannot be covered; it is important that boundaries are defined clearly so that the research that is going to be executed is manageable. Also, in this section how this study finds its place among the other studies is explained.
e.g. Population in the U.S. that is age of 60 and above will be covered in this study. Study will only focus on the major urban areas in the U.S that already has a bike share system.

2.1 Lead Research Question
“What is the main question that drives the research and answer of which will help resolve the issue?”
In this section, lead question, which is the main question that triggers the research, is written down. The final product will be the answer of this lead research question.
e.g. How can we increase the use of Bike Share System among elderly population in the U.S.?

2.2 Sub-Research Questions
“In order to find an answer to lead question, what other questions need to be asked?”
Since the research question is to broad to be answered, sub-research questions, which are narrower questions that help to answer the lead research question, are listed in this section.
e.g. What are the barriers for older population to use existing Bike Share Systems? What are the factors that motivate older population using Bike Share Systems? Are there any type of bike-share systems that are used more than others among elderly population?

2.3 Research Methodology
“In what ways can these questions be answered?”
In this section, the methods that are used to answer each sub-research question is introduced and briefly explained.
e.g. By conducting an expert interview with operator of the existing bike-share systems, problems that older population is facing while using bike share system is planned to be uncovered. By employing a statistical research, the frequency of use for bike share systems among elderly population will be found out. A passive observation will be made in bike-share stations, in order to understand the difficulties that older users experience while using the bicycle.

2.4 Research Study
The answers of the sub-research questions are outlined step by step in this section. It is important to communicate the data that is collected during the research objectively.
e.g. Based on observations, older population avoid using bike-share systems due to heavy bicycle designs, which lead to difficulties during bicycle’s deployment and navigation. During the interviews that were conducted with elderly, they indicated that they lost interest towards using bike-share systems due to navigation problems caused by its heavy weight.

2.5 Research Analysis and Insights
“What patterns are there among the data that is collected? What are the answers for the lead research question?”
The information that is gathered during the research is organized, grouped and visualized in order to find the relations and patterns among the data. This analysis is then synthesized into research insights that will answer the lead-research question of the study and form the foundations of the project statement and design objectives.
e.g. Main barriers for older population to use bike-share systems is that bicycles are heavy to deploy and navigate.

3.1 Project Statement
“What is going to be designed?”
Product that is going to be designed is outlined briefly in this section. In order not to limit the outcomes of the project, the project statement should be “need” oriented instead of being product oriented. For instance, instead of stating the project as “design a flat-pack chair” define it as “design a seating unit that is easy to ship”.
e.g. Design a Bike-Share System that is easy to deploy and navigate by older population.

3.2 Design Objectives
“What are the factors that need to be considered during design of the product?”
Project requirements and objectives are written as a basis for design decisions as the project guideline. These objectives are organized in a hierarchical order based on their importance. Otherwise, attempts to meet many project goals and requirements concurrently will cause a creative cramp during the design phase. Research analysis and insights section will mainly form the basis of your design objectives.
e.g. Bikes need to be easy to lift and navigate therefore must be made out of lighter materials. Interface of the terminals should be easy to understand and operate by elderly.

3.3 Design Methodology
“What are the steps to achieve the goal and how is it going to be done?”
Design methods, technology and tools to achieve the design goals are discussed in this part. Basically it will be the brief summary of the design process that is going to be followed.
e.g. Design process will start with initial ideation sketches. In parallel to this, materials with lighter but durable properties will be investigated. In the second phase of the project, ergonomic test models will be built for the chosen concept to test its suitability for the intended user group.

3.4 Design Study
Execution of the design methodologies that are indicated in the previous section are documented and presented step by step in this section.

3.5 Evaluative Research
“In what ways can the objectives of the study can be measured? Does the original objectives of the study met?”
Describe how final testing and validation tasks were performed in this part to see whether the goals that are indicated at the beginning of the study are achieved.
e.g. Based on the final user interviews, 85% of the participants found the design easier to navigate and deploy compared to existing bike-share systems.

The problem that is set out to be solved and what is achieved is summarized in the conclusion chapter. Address how the original objectives of the project is met and discuss potential future work in this section.
e.g. Use of composite materials, instead of traditional use of stainless steel in bike-share system designs, enabled decreasing the overall weight of the bike. As a result of this, a 25% of increase in the use of bike-share system by elderly was observed. By implementing this system in other urban areas, more quantifiable data could be obtained.

Every citation made in the body of the thesis must appear in the references section. Follow a single standard method for citing and listing both the print references and the online references preferably APA style. Use referencing to support your hypothesis and to show the trail of thoughts.

Use Appendices section to present material that will interrupt the flow if included in the main body of the thesis.