The major phase of research is led by the creative practice, engaging in all aspects of the creative cognitive process. In order to explore the main research question, the practitioner-researcher designs a creative project that appeals to him/her in his/her particular art/genre/form that will foster insights into the process of composition, and that will permit a uniquely practice-based perspective on the question at hand. This is where practice-based research enters its most unpredictable phase: as any artist knows, quite often the work diverges quite significantly from its initial concept for a variety of reasons, including time, tools, affordances, materiality, subsequent inspiration (and its evil counterpart, the lack thereof), and other “whims of the muses”. What is important in this phase is to remain open to these new directions – to serendipity – and to maintain the in situ research log and observation notes throughout.
It is also worth noting there may be significant effects on the composition process of continuing contextual research in theory and creative works. It could be argued that continuing this contextual research while still engaged in the creative work introduces confounds, raising the question: what proportion of the practitioner’s process and creative changes are due to the newly introduced “special motive”, and what is due to his/her growing long-term memory? I would respond that in such qualitative studies as these must be, quantifying these effects is not possible, and likely not informative in any case. The benefits of further engaging in the new domain weigh far more heavily: the creative artifacts benefit from the practitioner’s increased awareness of their chosen domain, and the critical examination benefits from serendipitous connections s/he can make while still engaged in the creative practice.