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Research Guides

ESC101: Praxis I

Getting started

Before you can start designing, you need to gather background information on your client, the community and issue or topic you are working with. This information will allow you to better understand the situation and design a useful solution. 

The first thing you need to do is think of some questions about your topic that you want to address. For each of these questions determine what the key concepts are, or in other words what ideas from your question must be in the information you find. 

If for example, you want to know more about the ease of use of photocopiers your two concepts would be: "ease of use" and "photocopier"

For each of your concepts, you now want to determine some synonyms since different people will use different words when describing the same thing. Think of words that are both broader and narrower in scope than your initial key concepts. 

For example, for photocopier you can use synonyms like: 

  • duplicating device
  • office appliance 
  • business equipment
  • office photocopier
  • network photocopier
  • A3 photocopier
  • Xerox WorkCentre 6515
  • HP PageWide Pro 477dw

For ease of use you might use synonyms like: 

  • ergonomics
  • ergonomy 
  • usability
  • user friendly
  • people centered

 Then you want to combine your concepts using Boolean operators. The Boolean operator AND is used to narrow your search and normally combines concepts. The Boolean operator OR is used to widen your search and normally combines synonyms of the same concept. Many databases will perform the AND operator before the OR operator, so like in math, you may need to nest terms using brackets to get the database to process the Boolean operator you want it to process first. 

In the example above, we might use a search such as some of the ones below:

(photocopier OR office appliance) AND (user friendly OR ergonomic)

(A3 photocopier OR network photocopier) AND (usability OR people centered)


Below you will find a module and video that will show you these concepts in action.