Inquiring the way we inquire


Guest Editors


• Ines Di Loreto (University of Technology of Troyes, France
• Elena Parmiggiani (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway, and University of Oulu, Finland) 



Important dates


• Deadline: July 10, 2018 -> August 27, 2018
• Notification to the authors: October 10, 2018
• Camera ready paper: October 25, 2018
• Publication of the special issue: end of November, 2018





This focus section aims to promote a critical reflection of research methods to study modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). For decades, several disciplines from the human sciences (e.g., philosophy, economics, management sciences, semiotics, sociology, anthropology, and psychology) have demonstrated the complexity of the interactions between uses, social activities, and technical developments. Researchers from these disciplines have brought on the field the rigor of their intrinsic questioning, their methods, and their own histories. To grasp the interplay among all elements, reflexivity is a powerful tool drawn from the social sciences tradition to understand the relationship between the researcher, the surrounding context, and the research process. This notion recognizes and highlights that the researcher is part of the world that she is studying. As such, reflexivity invites the researcher to explicitly elaborate on the way different social, political, and theoretical aspects ‘are woven together in the process of knowledge development, during which empirical material is constructed, interpreted and written.’ (Alvesson and Sköldberg 2000, p. 9) As their methods of inquiry are today appropriated and accepted by design researchers, however, the consequences of applying methods that were originally designed to study specific aspects – for example social aspects – to the study and the design of technology remain largely unquestioned (Beaulieu 2010; Beaulieu et al. 2007; Kitchin 2017). It is however important to reflect on the consequences of our methodological choices (e.g., what we leave untold, invisible) and their generative potential. Questioning the construction of the research methods has indeed political meaning, because of its analytical consequences, such as allowing researchers to investigate how design can empower (or silence) specific categories of stakeholders, even non-human ones (Bowker 2000; Ehn 2008; Parmiggiani 2017).

The objective of this Focus Session is to propose a discussion on the methodological posture of studies of collaborative and interactive design prototyping. We invite contributions inquiring into “the way we inquire”, promoting a reflexive practice onto the way we apply our research methodologies to inform, understand, and/or support the design of technologies. 


• Alvesson, M., and Sköldberg, K. 2000. Reflexive Methodology: New Vistas for Qualitative Research, London, UK: SAGE Publications.

• Beaulieu, A. 2010. “Research Note: From co-location to co-presence: Shifts in the use of ethnography for the study of knowledge,” Social Studies of Science, (40:3), pp. 453–470.

• Beaulieu, A., Scharnhorst, A., and Wouters, P. 2007. “Not Another Case Study: A Middle-Range Interrogation of Ethnographic Case Studies in the Exploration of E-science,” Science, Technology & Human Values, (32:6), pp. 672–692.

• Bowker, G. C. 2000. “Biodiversity Datadiversity,” Social Studies of Science, (30:5), pp. 643–683.

• Ehn, P. 2008. “Participation in Design Things,” in Proceedings of the Tenth Anniversary Conference on Participatory Design 2008, PDC ’08, Indianapolis, IN, USA: Indiana University, pp. 92–101 (available at

• Kitchin, R. 2017. “Thinking critically about and researching algorithms,”Information, Communication & Society, (20:1), pp. 14–29 (doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154087).

• Parmiggiani, E. 2017. “This Is Not a Fish: On the Scale and Politics of Infrastructure Design Studies,” Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), pp. 1–39 (doi: 10.1007/s10606-017-9266-0).






Topics of Interest


Possible research questions addressed by articles in the focus section include (but are not limited to):


• What does it mean to promote a reflexive practice?

• What are the ethics and the epistemology of reflexive practices?

• How can we reflexively select and craft a research method to study the design of systems?

• How do we reflect upon the emerging constraints, needs, and expectations?

• How can we combine qualitative and quantitative methods in a reflexive fashion?

• How can we leverage the potential of reflexive inquiry to scale up our inquiring methods to study distributed and/or long-term technologies?



Submission procedure 


All submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication.

The manuscripts should be submitted anonymized either in .doc or in .rtf format. 
All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers. Perspective participants are invited to submit a 8-20 pages paper (including authors' information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.). 
The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors' guidelines .

Submission page -> link
(when submitting the paper please choose Domain Subjects under: 'IxD&A special issue on: ‘Inquiring the way we inquire')

For scientific advices and for any query please contact the guest-editor:


• ines [dot] di_loreto [at] utt [dot] fr
• parmiggi [at] idi [dot] ntnu [dot] no

marking the subject as: 'IxD&A fous section on: Inquiring the way we inquire'.