Announcing the inaugural Call-for-Papers for our new journal “Dialectic”

UPDATE: The Call-for-Papers submission deadline has been extended until Friday May 27. This change is to allow more time for the high number of educators who are completing their end of year teaching and service commitments. 

You are invited to submit a paper for potential inclusion in the inaugural issue of Dialectic, a biannual journal devoted to the critical examination of issues that affect design education, research, and inquiry into their effects on the practice of design.

Michigan Publishing, the hub of scholarly publishing at the University of Michigan, will publish Dialectic on behalf of the AIGA Design Educators Community (DEC). Dialectic welcomes the following types of submissions, which are described in more detail below:

· research papers
· long-form case study reports/case series reports
· position papers
· criticism of designed artifacts, systems, and processes
· reviews of books, exhibitions, and conferences
· survey papers
· theoretical speculations

Each piece that Dialectic will publish must be:

· based on fundamentally sound scholarship and inquiry
· written so that is broadly accessible
· on topics relevant to its audiences

The inaugural issue of Dialectic seeks submissions of papers that will enlighten and inform a diverse audience of design educators engaged not only in classroom teaching experiences but also in differing forms of research and professional practice. The journal’s advisory and editorial boards recognize that design education, along with design research and professional practice, exist in relationships that are now broadly informed by theoretical frameworks and applications of knowledge derived from the social and applied sciences, the humanities and other professions such as business, education and media studies. The outcomes of these synergies often result in the invention, discovery, understanding, and dissemination of new knowledge, innovation, and best practices. Because of the heterogeneous makeup of Dialectic’s targeted readership, and their respective educational realities and career goals, the journal welcomes articles of varying types and focus that address differing topics, issues, and interests.

Dialectic will publish papers that meet the following categorical descriptions:

Research papers (3,000 to 4,500 words)
These articles will recount how designers and design teams identified a situation that was problematic, formulated and operated research to understand the various factors, conditions and people involved that were affecting the situation, and then used their analysis of the data gathered from this research to guide design decision-making toward improving this situation. This type of writing should be grounded in evidentiary processes, and should clearly explicate a hypothesis, as well as posit and support a methodology and some form of a measurable data set.

Long-form case study reports or case series reports (3,000 to 4,500 words)
These articles will describe how a particular person, group, project, event, experience or situation has been studied and analyzed, using one or more methods, during a specific span of time. These contributions should posit insights that exist as logical subsets of a larger category, and that are at least tangentially generalizable to the category. A case series report collectively describes how a group of individuals have responded to a particular type of treatment, experience or interaction. They can be used to help analyze and assess the responses of a cross-section of individual users to one or more iterations of an interface design, or an environmental graphics or wayfinding system, or a series of data visualizations.

Position papers (2,000 to 3,000 words);
These essays will present the readership of Dialectic with an opinion—of the author, or of a specified group of people or organization—about an issue or set of issues in a way or ways that make particular values and the belief systems that guide them known.

Design criticism (as long-form essays of between 2,000 and 3,000 words)
The goal of these pieces is to critically analyze design decision-making, and the affects that making and using what has been designed have on the operation and evolution of social, technological, economic, environmental and political systems.

Reviews of books, exhibitions, conferences, etc. (750 to 1,500 words)
These shorter articles are written to critically analyze the efficacy of the structure, content, style, and relative merit of their particular subjects in ways that combine the author’s personal reactions and arguments to it with his/her assessment of how effectively it fulfilled or failed in its purpose.

Survey papers (2,000 to 3,000 words)
These pieces are written to clearly summarize, organize, and analyze a select, topical grouping of scholarly articles, research papers, or case studies in a way that integrates and adds to the understanding of the work in a given discipline or field of study.

Theoretical speculations (3,000 to 4,500 words)
These contributions will consist of attempts by their authors to explain a particular phenomenon, set of circumstances, or situational construct based on their ability to utilize observations rather than hard evidence to fuel speculative thoughts and suppositions. These contributions should be grounded in a viable paradigm, or use theory as a viable justification for what has been observed, and should be internally coherent and advance logical conclusions.

Original visual essays and narratives
Dialectic invites submissions from designers or teams of designers that are comprised primarily or solely of imagery. The criteria specified in the “Illustrations, Graphics, and Photos” section of the “2016-17 Submissions Guidelines for Dialectic” document must be met, and submissions that are assessed by the Editorial Board and/or external reviewers to be visually compelling and conceptually provocative will be considered for publication, pending the availability of page space in a given issue.

Editorial responses from Dialectic readers (750 to 1,200 words) Dialectic encourages its readers to submit critical responses to specific articles, editorials, or visual pieces that have been published in previous issues. Authors are also welcome to bring any issues that they believe are pertinent to the attention of Dialectic’s readership. Editorial commentary relative to specific published articles and pieces will be sent to their author(s) so they can respond.

Dialectic’s web address for submissions:

All submissions to Dialectic MUST be made through the submittable website hosted by Michigan Publishing listed above. Please DO NOT attempt to send any type of submission as an e-mail attachment to any of Dialectic’s Editorial Board members, its Producer, its AIGA DEC liaisons, or members of its Advisory Committee. Instructions for formatting ALL types of submissions are embedded (per category) in this submittable website. Submissions that are NOT formatted according to these instructions will be rejected.

All submissions must be created in keeping with the editorial policy of Dialectic.


Deadline for full versions of papers written that meet Dialectic’s categorical descriptions: May 6, 2016

Decision date for inclusion of submissions in Dialectic Issue 01: June 24, 2016

Final, revised versions of papers due: August 12, 2015

Estimated publication window for Dialectic Issue 01: November 15–December 15, 2016


Dialectic’s inaugural editorial board:

Anne Burdick, Art Center

Heather Corcoran, Washington University at St. Louis

Kenneth FitzGerald, Old Dominion University

Deborah Littlejohn, North Carolina State University

Keith M. Owens, The University of North Texas

Stacie Rohrbach, Carnegie Mellon University


Dialectic’s producer

Michael R. Gibson, The University of North Texas


Dialectic’s inaugural AIGA Design Educators Community liaisons:

Eric Benson, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Amy Fidler, Bowling Green State University

Michael R. Gibson, The University of North Texas


Dialectic’s inaugural advisory committee:

Kim Erwin, The Illinois Institute of Technology Institute of Design

Brockett Horne, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

Ann McDonald, Northeastern University

Paul Nini, The Ohio State University

Elizabeth Resnick, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt)

Holly Willis, The University of Southern California

By Michael R. Gibson
Published March 10, 2016
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