The expertness of accounts of typeface design: locating the Emic and Etic

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This paper is written in response to problems arising from defining the term “expert” within the literature review of a PhD study that ultimately focuses on a Grounded theory approach, relating how typeface design “experts” describe their knowledge in connection with design processes, particular to their esoteric discipline. The study was conceived as being emergent and inductive in nature as no prior studies of this area of typeface design process exist. It became clear that the study demonstrated a methodological fit with Grounded Theory Methodology in terms of being emergent qualitative research. However, questions raised within the initial background research and subsequent literature review – required as a standard approach in early PhD enquiry – pointed toward possible problems in explaining or defining the notion of “expert” with respect to the subject of type design process and how this may in turn, have implications regarding selection of possible subjects to be studied. The aim of the research was to reveal and describe knowledge of contemporary typeface design processes. To determine whether such processes, or parts thereof, could be described theoretically rather than merely anecdotally or in purely descriptive terms. The author had identified that in both contemporary and historical contexts, paucity existed in relation to recorded epistemology regarding the processes of designing typefaces. What also became evident to the author was where accounts of knowledge of the practice of typeface design existed, perspectives from which these were written differed in relation to what may be deemed “expertness”. It was in attempting to explain or rationalise differences in perspectives of such accounts of practice that the problem of describing “expertness” arose initially in the study. In terms of the empirical study connected with the literature review the problem above was obviated by the adoption of a Grounded Theory approach to the study in general, as Theoretical Sampling consistent with Grounded Theory allowed decisions being made on sampling to come from the emerging data and theory as they developed. However, initial problems raised perhaps determine the focus of future research in the area of defining “expertise” in typeface design and perhaps more generally beyond this field.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2013
EventEKSIG 2013 - University of Loughborough
Duration: 4 Jul 20135 Jul 2013


ConferenceEKSIG 2013
CityUniversity of Loughborough


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