This field guide provides an overview of how we work in The Design Research Collective, which includes a lot of things - how students progress through their degrees, tools and software that we use, how we meet, and how we communicate our results. This page is a living document, and will grow, evolve, and change as The Design Research Collective does.


Research and your Degree

The Ph.D.

The Research Masters

Undergraduate Research

Tools and Software

A lot of the work that we do in The Design Research Collective is computational, so setting up your software stack is important. Most researchers end up using one of two languages: Python or R.


Jupyter Notebooks



There are a few other pieces of software that will make your job easier.

  1. Mendeley - This is a citation manager that
  2. GitHub Desktop - This will help you manage your code as it grows and changes over time. Not familiar with github? Get started here!
  3. Cloud storage - You never know when your laptop or desktop might fail, so its very important to back up your work using some sort of cloud storage. Through your CMU account you can access both Google Drive and Box.
  4. Slack - A lot of our lab communication and coordination happens through Slack. You’ll be added to our workspace as soon as you join!

If there are other software packages you need, check out CMU’s Software Catalog.


One-on-One Meetings

Lab Meetings


When it comes to publishing, there are two big bottlenecks: getting the paper submitted, and receiving the reviews. We cannot control how reviewers perceive a paper, so our objective as a lab is on submitting quality work.


Publishing comes in two main varieties - conference papers and journal papers. Journal papers are typically weighted a little more heavily in our field and are perceived as more important, but conference papers can be a good place to share early versions of work for feedback.


Some of our main conferences are:

  • ASME IDETC-CIE - This is actually a collection of conferences, and we submit to several. The most common are the Design Theory and Methodology Conference (typically for work involving humans subjects research or focusing on people in design), the Design Automation Conference (for design synthesis algorithms, machine learning work, and things like that), and the Design Education Conference (for things that are related to education). This occurs every year in August, with a paper submission deadline in February or March.
  • The DESIGN Conference
  • International Conference on Engineering Design
  • International Conference on Design Computing and Cognition
  • Other - Sometimes your work won’t be a good fit for any of the journals above, and that’s ok! There are lots of journals out there, and we will identify the right one for your work.



This field guide draws on work from several other great labs, including: