In sum, what we’re talking about when we’re talking about design research is really doing evidence-based design. Creation, criticism, and inquiry are all integral parts of the design process. Separating them leads to optimizing for the wrong things out of ignorance, ego, or fear.
Research without collaboration means that one group of people is learning and creating reports for another group to acknowledge and ignore. Knowledge leaks out of even the most well-meaning teams working like this. Collaboration without evidence means everyone has tacitly agreed whose personal preferences win. Neither of these is the most productive approach.
The big research question is what you want to know, not what you ask in an interview. In fact, asking your research question directly is often the worst way to learn anything. People often don’t know or are unwilling to admit to their true behaviors, but everyone is really good at making up answers.