Method Stacking

18th January 2024

Lead institution:
Manchester Metropolitan University and Cranfield University

Dr Kat Thiel and Dr Iveta Eimontaite

Funded Project:
Methods for Change Phase 2

This ‘How-To’ Guide outlines the Method Stacking approach used by Dr Kat Thiel from Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr Iveta Eimontaite of Cranfield University. The poster was created in collaboration with Jack Brougham.

Twitter: @KatThiel and @IEimontate

Social scientists from the Methods for Change project came together to discuss the research methods they use and how methods create change in society. Drawing from the expertise in the Aspect network, they collaborated on a series of ‘how to’ guides which are step-by-step instructions and top-tips for adopting these methods in a range of sectors. Visual and multisensory pieces, including comics, illustrations, posters, booklets, short films and animations were then developed in collaboration with creatives to capture the key value of these research methods with a view to being able to convey them to a variety of audiences.

It is hoped that these resources will be useful for people in higher education, commercial, public sector, third sector and community organisations who are interested in experimenting with, and expanding professional skills in, the adoption of social science research methods.

Method Stacking is a new approach to data gathering that is based on a non-hierarchical, interdisciplinary collaboration between design researchers and the social sciences. It brings insider and outsider perspectives to the study of human-machine interactions in a design context via the iterative evaluation of data with participants.

Method Stacking focuses on these human-machine interactions and investigates workflows by assessing and reflecting on the output of data collection methods to co-construct knowledge with participants. In short, this approach shifts the focus from capturing the most ‘truthful’ data. Instead, it uses visual output generated by physiological methods as a jumping-off point to generate discussions with the participants who become active agents in the study. This slowly builds up nuanced evidence of participants’ cognitive processes and task handling. As such, Method Stacking is useful as a vehicle for discussion, learning and generating feedback, as well as carrying out a research project in a creative environment.

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