Rigor and Practice-based Research Michael A. R. Biggs and Daniela Büchler
So what would be the place of rigor in practice-based research? Let us stay with the comparison to non-practice-based research for a moment longer. Rigor in the literature search belongs to a process. We say the process was rigorous, and therefore validates the claims of the outcome. We would not say that the outcome was rigorous. Therefore, if we consider practice-based methods, we might conclude that they must be rigorously undertaken. In this process model, the methodological rigor is comparable to our notion of a rigorous literature search.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to provide a theory of methodology, but perhaps there is an opportunity here to clarify “What is a method?” A method is a means to an end. It connects a research question to a research answer: not just by its chronological position in the process, but rationally through a process of argumentation. The validity of a method is the appropriateness of the process to provide a solution to the problem at hand.
So there is something context-dependent about method that has to do with the needs and expectations of a community.
Apart from the function that method has as a practical tool to deliver a solution, it has an important logical role between the question and the answer.
the minimum that we wish to claim here is that a valid method provides a rigorous logical connection between the question and its answer, and it is that rigor that is more important in validating the outcome than the rigor of the competencies that are used to put the method into practice.
If we apply this to practice-based research, we would contend that, while rigorous practical competencies are important, they are not the most important aspect to be judged. What the practitioner has to demonstrate is the validity of a particular method to deliver the research solution. The peers must judge the merit of this solution, not as a creative contribution, but as an answer to a question.
It requires that practice is the method, and not just the means of communication, and furthermore that there is an argument that a certain practice is necessary, as opposed to writing or anything else.
In conclusion, rigor in research is the strength of the chain of reasoning, and that has to be judged in the context of the question and the answer, for example, in the context of design as opposed to the context of physics or philosophy. The central links of the chain comprise the method.