Design research is not simply concerned with speculations regarding the relationship of theory and practice. Design research also brings out significant questions regarding the nature of research and the position occupied by the doctorate in university education. This paper reviews the major epistemological positions informing theories of design research. Analyses of examples from subjectivist, constructivist and objectivist epistemologies are presented. The paper concludes by considering the pedagogical implications of the role of disciplinarity in discourses of design research. The paper does not aim to seek statistical generalization but rather to explore the complexity of the issue.