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Editorial Vol 43 no 2 2018

By : Yonca Hurol

This is not a theme issue of Open House International and it contains articles on various different subjects. One of these articles is based on a recent improvement in research approaches and methods: post-phenomenology. Because of this, I preferred to base this editorial on the general changes in research and architectural research methods.

Academics generally know that research methods change and develop over time. There are always new research methods emerging and these methods are necessary to be able to make new contributions to existing knowledge. However, there are many academics who are not open to certain research types and methods. I believe that this creates a serious problem within the academic world. This problem can easily turn into a nightmare for master and PhD students if they have concerns about the different approaches of their supervisors or jury members with regard to the research methods.

This is not a new problem at all. Research methods have developed in the long term and according to the new needs of societies. The types of research which are based on laboratory experiments -these are the methods used in natural and engineering sciences- precede the research on social sciences in time. The effective use of probability theories and the need for doing research on social issues has resulted in the development of the research methods of social sciences. It was necessary to know about the social dynamics within the cities after the growth of the cities, due to migrations from the villages during the second half of the 20th century. The type of mathematics has changed and subjective issues have started to enter into the content of social research. However, many scientists who work on natural and engineering sciences have refused to recognize the research methods of social sciences. It has taken time for social sciences to be seen as useful and acceptable.

Such developments in research methods depend on economic changes as well. After further changes happened in capitalism, it became necessary to know about the subjective conceptions of people on many issues, because the economy improved and people started to reflect their identities into everything in their lives. They now had money to spend in order to satisfy their subjective needs. The houses, the clothes they bought, the films they watched all started to be chosen according to the personal taste of the individual. Additionally, due to the development of individual rights, gender studies etc, it became important to know about the subjective conceptions of people. Since the quantitative methods could help up to a certain point, it became necessary to develop qualitative research methods, data collection techniques and data evaluation techniques to be able to do research on the subjective thoughts, conceptions, opinions and beliefs of people. These types of research were categorized as arts and humanities. However, even though very sophisticated data collection and evaluation procedures are required, many scientists who use quantitative methods (natural, engineering and social sciences) refused to recognize these qualitative research methods.

Some researchers preferred to use many of these types of research simultaneously in order to be able to articulate their research in various dimensions. These methods are known as mixed methods which combine engineering, social and psychological dimensions. All of these research types have been useful in architectural research. We need the research methods of natural and engineering sciences, research methods of social sciences, research methods of arts and humanities and mixed methods to be able to conduct research on the various dimensions of architecture.

The requirement of making new contributions to knowledge and the changes in modern life are the main reasons behind the development of new types of research approaches and methods. Recently researchers have discovered that even the requirements of arts and humanities research are not sufficient to do research on certain subjects such as interactions between humans and technology. Post-phenomenology redefines the object and subject relationship and time concept as well as bringing in pragmatic and empirical dimensions into phenomenology. Post-phenomenology is one of the recent world views and research approaches through which the method of phenomenology is made more open for certain changes.

If a certain type of research, which uses a new methodology, makes a contribution to knowledge, if it helps in solving a real-life problem and if no other articulation is needed to realize the objective of that research, academics should be open to the use of this new research method. We cannot teach in the same way we have been taught.

Yonca Hurol

International Technical Editor

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