Graphic design research: a cause for the concerned

There is an immediate need to clarify and develop the role of graphic design research for the theoretical underpinning of graphic design education. A report that accompanied the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) described ‘the intellectual and theoretical underpinning of graphic and communication design’ as "generically weak’. We report on progress about a project designed to identify and map graphic design outputs from REF2014, involving both a data analysis of the ‘Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory’ submissions, and focus group research with graphic design academics designed to elicit feedback on the emergent themes being addressed by the data analysis exercise as well as broader concerns. The aim has been to identify the nature of graphic design outputs submitted to the REF audit. In this paper, we provide a response to this state of affairs from a community of graphic design educators concerned about the perception of research in the discipline.