Faculty Census 2018: Data on Design Professionals in Academia

Census data from a survey on the professional experiences of design faculty in U.S. colleges and universities.

The Design Incubation Faculty Census

Aaris Sherin, Dan Wong, Josh Korenblat, Aaron Ganci

The Faculty Census gathers information about trends affecting design faculty. Participants included full and part-time faculty at U.S. colleges and universities. All data contributions are anonymous and used exclusively for research purposes.

The following graphics and charts are based on data gathered in the first faculty census. They were developed to help visualize and evaluate different types and patterns of activities engaged in by faculty and administrators and to investigate conditions of their employment. We aim to reveal factors associated with academia which might be used for individual or institutional decision-making. This includes but is not limited to college and university budget planning, legislative agendas, anticipating shifts in student body makeup, etc. Our ultimate goal is to help faculty to understand the landscape of higher education within their discipline and to use data to proactively plan for and/or to react to shifts in thinking about the role of a design educator within the academy.

The Carnegie Classification®

Many of the graphics developed for the 2018 Faculty Census use the Carnegie Classification® as a system for comparison. The Carnegie Classification® has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four and a half decades. The framework is widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and control for institutional differences, and also in the design of research studies to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students, or faculty. Looking up your own institution can help you understand which classification applies to you personally and may help inform your understanding of the visualizations from the Faculty Census.

Collaboration

We invite faculty, researchers and interested parties to engage with the data collected as part of the Faculty Census 2018 and to use the information gathered here to support their own work and their engagement with institutions in higher education. We encourage and welcome collaboration and are happy to discuss publishing findings and or additional visualizations using this data. If you have questions or would like more information please contact info@designincubation.com

Thank you to all who gave us meaningful feedback during the development of this survey including Michael Gibson, Amy Fidler, Kelly Murdock-Kitt, Carma Gorman, Alex Girard, AIGA DEC, UCDA.

Thank you to all who generously shared their professional experiences in academia.

Note: Please view on tablet or desktop for optimal visualizations. Tabbed navigation across the top reveals more census results.

Writing an Academic Research Abstract: For Communication Design Scholars

The following document is a practical quickstart guide and a rationale and analysis for developing an academic research abstract in the field of communication design.

Writing abstracts about research, teaching practices, creative work, etc. in Communication/Graphic Design can be challenging because there are no clear accepted or uniform protocols for how these documents must be crafted. Standards for acceptable modes of investigation, methodologies, subjects and preferred writing styles are still developing, especially when compared to the norms of traditional research disciplines. What we describe here are the criteria for judging the quality of abstracts that we ask peer reviewers of Design Incubation Colloquium to use. However, you may also find this information helpful as you draft abstracts to submit to other programs and publications.

The following document is a practical quickstart guide followed by a rationale and analysis for developing an effective academic research abstract in the field of communication design. (PDF version here.)

Quick Start Guide for Writing Abstracts

Aaris Sherin, Dan Wong, Jessica Barness

  1. Start by taking notes based on your responses to the questions outlined below.
    1. It is often easiest to start with your own motivation. Why did you think this research was interesting or has a unique perspective? This is the engaging introduction and the way to hook the reader into your own thoughts and perspectives.
    2. Problem Statement/Hypothesis/thesis. What exactly was the thing being investigated in this particular paper, conference proceeding etc.? Why is your topic particularly important? Who will benefit from this work? What makes this work unique? For example: its historical placement, contemporary challenges being solved, unique methodology for investigation or applying existing metrics or methodologies in new ways.
    3. What was your approach / methodology? For example: what were you researching or investigating? What did you do and how did you do it? Was a theoretical, exploratory framework being used? Or was an established scientific method used? If you are working on an experimental or unusual type of investigation be sure to indicate this to your readers.
    4. What were the outcomes of your investigation, area of inquiry or of your project? What do you want the reader/viewer/participant to know about what you found out? What were the most important things the reader/view/participant should take away from the project? For example: what was the outcome of your client project, your student’s participation in the exercise or course etc.? And, what makes this valuable to other scholars/researchers?
    5. Conclusion. What is your conclusion after undertaking this work and what is the last thing you want your reader/viewer/participant to think about in relation to the project or area of investigation? Your conclusion might be a summation of the outcome (either positive or negative), an indication that further investigation or more in depth work is needed in the area by you or other researchers.
  2. Once you have made notes on the points above organize your thoughts into a linear outline using bullet points.
  3. Craft a more formal narrative using complete sentences and paragraphs. In the first paragraph, capture reader attention and introduce the topic. In the middle paragraph(s), provide context for the project, including relevant theory, literature, methods, etc., including the value of the project. The final paragraph should contain the conclusion.
  4. Make sure to include a title, keywords, your thesis statement, approach/methodologies, outcomes, and a strong conclusion. In some cases it may be appropriate or necessary to refer to other researchers or educators work to show precedence and let your audience know you have a broad and deep understanding of your topic.
  5. Once complete, reverse the process. Re-read your draft and make an outline/notes on the narrative of your abstract based only on what is written.
  6. Then compare this new outline to your original notes and ask the following questions: Is any necessary information or relevant points missing and if so should you add anything into the draft? Critically analyze your writing. Would you follow the thesis of the abstract and understand the significance of the research/pedagogy conducted if you weren’t involved in the project? If not, consider revising for clarity.
  7. Does your draft include enough information about the methodology used and a strong conclusion? If not add these into your draft while still maintaining the approved word count of the organization you are applying to.
  8. Once you are happy, put your draft aside for a day (if possible) and then read your abstract aloud and/or have a computer program (screen reader) read it.
  9. Before you submit your draft double check spelling and grammar. Tools like Grammarly are very useful if these skills don’t come naturally.
  10. Ask at least one academically seasoned colleague—ideally one who has a lot of practice writing and reading and evaluating abstracts—to read yours. Then ask them to paraphrase for you what your thesis/claim was, and what your conclusion/contribution was. If they aren’t sure or answer incorrectly, that’s your clue that you need to revise.
  11. You’re done! Submit your abstract for peer review before the deadline.
  12. Every writer/researcher/designer benefits from feedback. Your abstract may be returned with comments and suggestions. Take this feedback the same way you would feedback on any design project. The reviewer might not be correct in what is wrong with your abstract or even with how to fix particular problems but if a reviewer flags a problem in a particular area it is worth going back and reviewing the writing for clarity of purpose and intent and then revising accordingly.

The Rationale and Analysis of AN Academic Abstract

Dan Wong, Aaris Sherin, Carma Gorman, Jessica Barness

An abstract is a synopsis or summary of

  • An article or book
  • A presentation or speech
  • A workshop or event
What is the Purpose of an Abstract?
  1. An abstract succinctly articulates an original contribution to the current state of knowledge in a specified field by explaining how the work overturns, challenges, inflects, advances, or confirms that field’s current wisdom on that subject.
  2. An abstract enables researchers who are conducting literature searches/reviews to gauge whether or not a published paper/presentation/session/book is relevant to their own research, and whether it makes a sufficiently significant contribution to merit reading in its entirety.
  3. An abstract allows conference organizers, peer reviewers, and editors to efficiently select from a large pool of submissions the research projects that provide the best thematic “fit” for their session/grant/book/journal and those which advance the most compelling claims. Abstracts are also efficient for authors because they do not need to write the full paper until/unless it has been accepted for presentation or publication. Conferences and journals sometimes use the term proposal instead of abstract but they are usually describing a similar piece of writing.
Elements of an Abstract

(Elements described in full in Anatomy of an Abstract, below.)

  1. Title
  2. Keywords
  3. Motivation/Problem and/or Opportuntiy
  4. Thesis
  5. Approach/Methodology
  6. Results/Outcomes/Analysis
  7. Conclusion
An Abstract is:
  • Is a synopsis of ideas specific to an article, presentation, workshop or event etc.
  • Requires a one-sentence thesis or claim that ideally is easy for even non-specialists to identify and understand.
  • Contains a clear, concise statement explaining the original contribution that the work makes to a specific field or discipline.
  • Includes facts which are clearly stated directly.
  • Includes findings, outcomes, and conclusions.
An Abstract is not:
  • Is not a teaser. It is not suggestive, hidden, or allusory, nor is it text written in an overly opaque or verbose narrative.
  • Is not primarily for marketing the work/practice/project/research.
  • Is not difficult to read, follow, or understand. Researchers/scholars often read the abstracts of papers to determine the relevance to their own work, and they may pull the details from the abstract, or reference it, without reading the entire paper. Peer reviewers use the abstract for a base-line evaluation of the work.
  • Is not a document that has references or citations.
Anatomy of an Abstract
Title
  • “Good research paper titles (typically 10–12 words long) use descriptive terms and phrases that accurately highlight the core content of the paper.” (editage.com)
  • Like the abstract itself, the title should not be a teaser. Instead it should state the facts plainly and directly.
  • The goal is to convey information and relevance, therefore overly casual titles are generally not appropriate in an academic setting. But intriguing titles may help draw an audience to your presentation if your abstract is for a conference presentation. Journals may shy away from funny/clever or casual titles and these may be more appropriate for industry/marketing-articles/conferences/events.
  • The title should be compelling, so as to encourage the reader to read further.
  • The title should contain as many intuitive or “natural-language” terms and phrases as possible, to increase the odds that search engines and indexes will facilitate discovery of your paper based upon natural-language searches. (See also keywords, below.)
Keywords
  • Keywords aid researchers in their search for papers and other text on a specific topic. Often, authors are required to select all or most of their keywords from a pre-existing authority list. Keywords can be more formal or technical than general usage words, which is why it’s important to make sure that natural-language terms are used in the title (see above).
  • Research databases index articles and books based on the abstract title, the words within an abstract, and the keywords assigned to it.
  • In most cases, keywords should not be brand names or proper nouns. They should be words selected from an appropriate taxonomic structure or topic list and should include general topics and specific topics.
  • It is appropriate to designate multiple keywords which is often limited in number by the publication/venue. Keywords are often phrases containing multiple words.
  • When listed, keywords should be arranged alphabetically.
Motivation/Context/Problem Statement (one sentence)
  • The abstract is often introduced with the motivation, background context, or problem, that frames the circumstances in which the research and article will be discussed.
  • Examples: “Most historians of design have argued that a postwar shift in the size and nature of corporations is the reason why the field of visual identity design flourished in the USA after World War II, but not before.”
  • “Although the US printing industries had shifted en masse to using the subtractive CMY(K) primaries by the mid-1940s, by which point the color photography, color film, and even the fledgling television industry had already adopted the additive RGB primaries, many of the faculty teaching art-and-design foundations courses continue to teach subtractive color mixing using the centuries-outdated RYB color wheel.”
Thesis (one sentence)
    • A strong thesis is key to a successful abstract, and that which makes it worthy of acceptance for publishing. Peer reviewers and/or an editor will ask, is the thesis statement clear and unique/original? Is it grounded within an established discipline or area of study?
    • A thesis is an original argument made about a specific topic which you claim to have knowledge of or expertise in because of the research you conducted prior to presenting or writing about the topic.
    • No topic is completely new. It is expected that you frame your original contribution as a response to the current state of knowledge in the field. To convincingly claim that your work is an original contribution to the field, you must first explain what the common wisdom currently is, which usually involves acknowledging the most influential and widely accepted claims that previous scholars have made. Establishing that frame of reference allows you to demonstrate how your own work builds upon and also challenges or inflects that previous work/understanding. (See references and citations.)
    • A helpful resources for use in drafting a thesis is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Center for Writing Studies who publishes useful information on how to craft a thesis.
Approach/Methodology (one to two sentences):
  • The approach/methodology is the meat and potatoes “what I did, the why and how” section of the work.
  • Descriptions of this aspect of a project may be repeated across papers/abstracts. (Since stringent protocols don’t exist in our field, the methodology itself could be included in the thesis if the approach is innovative.)
  • The methodology should focus on the problem statement/hypothesis and how the author went about investigating their area of research. It may include information about what makes this approach unique or how existing methodologies are being used to investigate a new subject area.
Results/Outcomes (one sentence):
  • This section is only applicable to abstracts if you are working on a project or research with clear outcomes. You would begin by telling your reader what the results were of the project or investigation.
  • This section may include raw results and/or artifacts that come from the execution of the methodology or approach. For example: you may describe a finished design and how and where it was used.
  • It is also appropriate to present the initial analysis of the results and commentary on the methodology and/or the final outcomes.
  • Note about outcomes: Often, outcomes reveal unexpected results which may be byproducts found during the methodology/execution of the research. Typically research would be restructured and replicated to verify the outcomes. But due to funding or schedules, initial surprising outcomes might be presented. This is completely acceptable as long as the “results/conclusions” are not overstated.
Conclusion (one to two sentences):
  • The conclusion explains the significance of the work or project for the field, calling attention to generalizable knowledge or principles that others might be able to use successfully in similar situations.
  • The conclusion not only reiterates the thesis/claim, but also explains how and why the thesis/claim might be useful to others in the field.
  • It may also suggest ideas for further on what research might follow this work and why the work is worthy of presenting to an audience and/or to readers.
References and Citations:

References and citations recognize work that has already been done in the field, and is similar in topic, concept, and content. Though not included in the abstract, references and citations are expected and/or required in a manuscript of a full conference paper, journal article, book proposal or manuscript.

This exclusion is largely because abstracts should be concise, and referencing and citing other’s work simply takes up too much space. (The Writing Center at UNC Chapel Hill)

Notes about originality and duplication in multiple publications/venues.

In the purest form of academic publishing, research is published once, in one place. Then any reference to that idea/paper will be cited in subsequent publications both by the same author and by other researchers. However, it is acceptable to write multiple papers on a single research effort/investigation. It’s basically pulling apart the research, and focusing on all the possible elements/ideas/theses/results that were investigated or discovered. This reuse of results from one research effort is done in many disciplines.

In our field, researchers often get asked to present the same content or paper at multiple venues. For example, someone might see a presentation you made at a conference and then ask you to come and make the same presentation at their institution or to another group whom may benefit from the knowledge you are sharing.

How often it is acceptable to repeat conference presentations focused on the same project or content, and in what context it is appropriate to do so, is still being negotiated. How you choose to navigate this issue may depend on criteria indicated by the Promotions and Tenure committee at your institution.

In the very least, you may be asked to change the title of your presentation when you present the same content at a different venue. At some institutions it may be frowned upon to present the same material at multiple venues.

Academic and trade journals usually have rigorous specifications about when and where materials from your writing can be republished and in what form(s) are acceptable. In these instances we suggest you check with the editor for more information about each publishers criteria and also find out who holds copyright to the work and/or the ideas after the work is published.

Appendix/References/Bibliography

The structure may be adjusted depending on context, discipline and the requirements of particular organizations or publishers.

Some of the standard academic writing style formats are:

Modern Language Association (https://style.mla.org/formatting-papers/)

Chicago Style (https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html)

American Psychological Association (http://www.apastyle.org/)

Academic Sources

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/abstracts/)

University of Illinios at Urbana Champaign (writing resources: writer resources)
(http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/tips/thesis/)

USC Libraries: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 3. The Abstract
(http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/abstract)

Articles

How to write an effective title and abstract and choose appropriate keywords
(https://www.editage.com/insights/how-to-write-an-effective-title-and-abstract-and-choose-appropriate-keywords)

3 Basic tips on writing a good research paper title
(https://www.editage.com/insights/3-basic-tips-on-writing-a-good-research-paper-title)

Springer Title, Abstract and Keywords
(https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/writing-a-journal-manuscript/title-abstract-and-keywords/10285522)

How to Write an Abstract
(https://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html)

Books

A Manual For Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations
(https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo27847540.html)

Stylish Academic Writing
(http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674064485)

Guide to Publishing in Psychology Journals
(https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/guide-to-publishing-in-psychology-journals/DD1F7119040A76CE996FC683C23E2F25#)

The Elements of Style Fourth Edition
(https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/program/Strunk-Elements-of-Style-The-4th-Edition/PGM258483.html)

Critical Practices as Design Scholarship: Opportunities and Strategies

In this paper, we expand upon our guest presentation from Design Incubation 3.3 at Kent State University on March 11, 2017. This paper is written for faculty, scholars, administrators, and practitioners interested in learning more about critical practices and their connection with design scholarship. We also draw attention to strategizing and evaluating critical practices as design scholarship in the context of tenure and promotion.

View a pdf version of this paper.

Jessica Barness
Associate Professor
Kent State University

Steven McCarthy
Professor
University of Minnesota

Conventional academic scholarship typically involves publishing one’s research findings in journals and books. In the arts, it may pertain to performing or exhibiting creative work. Design straddles these worlds and adds its own cultural norms, such as industry competitions that seek the commercial work of professional practitioners. Design scholarship, whether written or visual, does not always fit these models.

And so, we ask:

How might design faculty approach the production and dissemination of creative work that is neither client-based nor fine art?

Over the past decade, other paths to knowledge formation and scholarly productivity have emerged, and we refer to these as critical practices. Involving a speculative approach to design (experimental, expressive, future-oriented), critical practices combine an authorial point-of-view with research and the tangible aspects of media, technology, materials, and process.

Critical Practices of Design Scholarship

Critical Design

Products (often) that embody a polemical approach to a prevailing social, cultural, technical, or economic condition.

Critical Making

An approach undertaken in order to explain or understand a theory, phenomenon, or technology. Knowledge is formed through process and product.

Design Authorship

Increased agency through confluence of designing, writing, and production. Includes project intitation and entrepreneurship.

Critical Practices are experiential and use design as scholarship: the collective learning, attainments, and knowledge of scholars within one discipline or across many. Merging intellectual inquiry with designed ‘things’ is the key component to forming a scholarly agenda through critical practice. Scholarship is shaped by the institutional frameworks available for legitimizing and sharing that knowledge, such as the peer review process, learned societies, universities and libraries, and books and journals.

Engaging in critical practices requires an enhanced, rigorous approach to scholarship – a strategic integration of making and writing – that moves beyond industry practice and fine arts traditions, and is distinctly relevant to the design discipline. Some design faculty working in these areas have found diverse scholarly venues to share their creative and intellectual work. These dissemination venues often take their cues from other disciplinary cultures like the arts, humanities, science, engineering and business, and may include conference presentations, juried exhibitions, competitions, publication (written or visual essays), media products, live performances, hybrid venues, collections, and commissions. These venues can be an advantage to design scholars as they are already generally recognized and legitimized by academic culture.

The following pages contain past and emerging scholarship models; considerations for strategizing and evaluating scholarship; case studies of scholarly critical practice; and concludes with implications for purposes of tenure and promotion.

Design Scholarship: Traditional Model
Figure 1: Traditional Scholarship Model for Design Faculty. Barness and McCarthy, 2017.

Traditional Scholarship Model: Art Department Context

The traditional scholarship model for design faculty, at least in second half of the twentieth century, was situated within fine arts departments. In this context, the emphasis was on teaching pre-professional courses and designing “things,” either through professional practice (typically client-oriented commercial work) or through creating personally expressive art work. The former found dissemination through industry competitions and trade publications, while the latter was exhibited in galleries and museums.

Emerging Scholarship Model: Design Program Context

In this emerging model, with design often in its own academic department, research informs teaching and is conducted to create new knowledge for the discipline. Critical practices such as critical making, critical design and design authorship are used to inquire about, and respond to, complex social challenges that often lie outside of professional practice concerns.

Design Scholarship: Emerging Model
Figure 2: Emerging Scholarship Model for Design Faculty. Barness and McCarthy, 2017.

Strategizing and Evaluating Design Scholarship

Considerations for evaluating design scholarship in higher education include faculty effort, the scholarly product, the selection process, dissemination venues, scope (local, regional, national, international), and the resulting impact. The design scholarship matrix below provides specifics on considerations such as these. Evaluating design scholarship necessitates an understanding of how these works “fit” into traditional academic contexts.

Design faculty must strategize their work to connect with expectations for tenure and promotion; however, this may pose challenges if tenure and promotion guidelines do not explicitly allow for diverse forms of scholarship. Thus, the faculty member may need to strategize competitive dissemination as well as determine the impact of a project for purposes of tenure and promotion.

The case studies on the following pages are all self-initiated, critical practice projects. For each, authorship, links, and brief descriptions are provided. Additionally, we have included suggestions on the ways this design scholarship matrix may be applied as projects are approached (by faculty) and evaluated (by colleagues, reviewers, and administrators).

Design Scholarship Matrix

(can be applied sequentially from left to right columns, and non-sequentially with different entry points)

Effort1, 2 Product3 Selection process5 Dissemination7, 8, 9 Impact10, 11
Designing, writing, editing, developing, curating, researching, creating, interviewing, applying, prototyping, analyzing, evaluating, consulting, directing, etc. Design4, article, paper, book, chapter, report, invention, presentation, artwork, media work, product, exhibit, grant application, workshop, etc. Peer-reviewed, juried, blind reviewed6, editor reviewed, invited, nominated, crowd-sourced, competitive, self-initiated, commissioned, critical evaluation, etc. Publication, exhibition, conference, collection, presentation, popular, press, symposium, performance, broadcast, marketplace, patent, workshop, etc. Citations, collections, awards, number of viewers/users/visitors, funded, licensing, media attention, legislation, regulation, human welfare, policy, environmental impact, quality of life, commercial success, other evidence
1. Consideration of role if collaborative scholarship

2. Consideration of relationship to core discipline if interdisciplinary or extra-disciplinary

 

3. The product is tangible and/or retrievable

4. Designed work can be: object, image, experience, interaction, performance, service, environment, etc.

5. Consideration of acceptance rate if known

6. “Blind reviewed” refers to anonymity between reviewer and submitter, and can apply to selection criteria beyond journal articles, such as juried exhibits and competitions

 

7. Consideration of reputation or ranking of venue or publication if known

8. If exposed to different audiences, works can be disseminated in multiple venues (i.e. traveling exhibits, different jurors)

9. includes in print and online, and analog and digital formats

10. Consideration of scope (local, regional, national, international) if known

11. Consideration of impact factor

 

 

Figure 3. Design Scholarship Matrix, courtesy of Steven McCarthy.

Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities, Visible Language (2015)

Jessica Barness, Amy Papaelias (editors)

Anne Burdick, Donato Ricci, Robin de Mourat, Christophe Leclercq, Bruno Latour, Holly Willis, Tania Allen, Sara Queen, Stephen Boyd Davis, Florian Kräutli, Steve Anderson, Padmini Ray Murray, Chris Hand, Jentery Sayers, Steven McCarthy (authors)

The special issue of Visible Language journal, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” (vol. 49, no. 3; double-blind peer reviewed) locates where, how, and why critical making is emerging and the scholarly forms it takes. Nine articles by an international group of authors were organized into two areas that blurred disciplinary boundaries: Theories and Speculations (methods and systems to facilitate research), and Forms and Objects (publishing, prototyping, and hacking practices). The editors approached the issue itself as research in critical making by performing a text analysis and created data visualizations to better understand the language used to communicate the concept of critical making and show structural connections among the articles.

http://visiblelanguagejournal.com/issue/172

EFFORT
• editing
• designing

PRODUCT
• journal issue
• data visualizations

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• editor reviewed
• critical evaluations

DISSEMINATION
• publication

Critical Making Zine (2012), Disobedient Electronics (2017)

Garnet Hertz with various contributors

Critical Making Zine and Disobedient Electronics are self-published, handmade book projects that critically examine the ways making can extend conversations on technology, society, and culture. The ten volumes of Critical Making contain works by over 70 contributors from various disciplines, and produced using a photocopy machine and staples. Similarly, the contributors to Disobedient Electronics are also scholars, writing on projects and perspectives surrounding the theme of ‘Protest’. Both works have been exhibited internationally and acquired by permanent collections.

They were also given away for free to project contributors, individuals, and organizations.

http://conceptlab.com/criticalmaking/
http://www.disobedientelectronics.com/

EFFORT
• designing
• curating
• creating
• writing

PRODUCT
• book (handmade editions)

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• juried
• peer reviewed
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• exhibitions
• collections
• published articles
• presentations

IMPACT
• citations
• media attention

The Best American Book of the 20th Century (2014)

Image credits: Onomatopee website.

Societé Réaliste
Project Projects (design)
Onomatopee (production)

An investigation into language and collage, The Best American Book of the 20th Century presents the intertextuality of multiple narratives, author-reader dynamics, and shape of language over time. The project was also conceived as an exhibition, as a “‘stockroom-booksale’, resonating the symptoms of mass-distribution as visualized both on a sculptural and a graphic, formalized level” (Onomatopee web site). The book is composed entirely of the first lines from best selling books spanning 1900–1999.

http://www.onomatopee.net/project.php?progID=019f131ccccd023b1808bdb9d7bef9ff

EFFORT
• designing
• writing

PRODUCT
• book (mass produced)

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• commissioned

DISSEMINATION
• exhibitions
• marketplace

IMPACT
• media attention
• commercial success
• citations

MediaWorks Pamphlet Series (2002–05)

MIT Press, various authors and designers

The MIT Press MediaWorks Pamphlet Series merges form and function through collaborative pairings of writers and designers. The presence of co-authorship is amplified through the weaving together of design decisions and primary written narrative, resulting in objects that are “zines for grown-ups, commingling word and image, enabling text to thrive in an increasing visual culture” (MIT Press website).

https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/mediawork/index.html

EFFORT
• designing
• writing

PRODUCT
• book (mass produced)

SELECTION PROCESS
• editor reviewed
• commissioned

DISSEMINATION
• marketplace

IMPACT
• media attention
• commercial success
• citations

The Electric Information Age Book and album (2011–12)

Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Adam Michaels (book)
The Masses (album)
Project Projects (design)

The Electric Information Age Book, and its audio extension, continue the investigation of mass-market publishing and graphic experimentation begun in the late 1960s by Jerome Agel, Quentin Fiore, and Marshall McLuhan with The Medium is the Massage. The LP mixes musical genres with text samples from the book. This project exemplifies collaborative work that explores the edges of media and performance, while also encompassing scholarly thought and creative practice.

http://www.inventorypress.com/product/the-electric-information-age-book-mcluhan-agel-fiore-and-the-experimental-paperback

https://wearethemasses.bandcamp.com/

EFFORT
• designing
• researching
• creating

PRODUCT
• book (mass produced)
• vinyl record

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• editor reviewed

DISSEMINATION
• marketplace
• digital distribution (audio tracks)

IMPACT
• media attention
• commercial success
• citations

Best Made / Re Made

Peter Buchanan-Smith (left)
Rebekah Modrak (right)

Re Made Plunger, a project by Rebekah Modrak, is a parody of Best Made Axe, a retail product by Peter Buchanan-Smith. Re Made is “a very pointed, and useful, example of object-as-critique, setting off a very serious line of questioning about the ideologies and biases embedded in designed things.

If a picture is a worth a thousand words, maybe sometimes the right critical object is worth a thousand critical essays”

(http://designobserver.com/feature/object-vs-object/38464).

https://www.bestmadeco.com/shop/blades-axes/axes
http://remadeco.org/

EFFORT
• designing
• researching
• creating

PRODUCT
• website
• product

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• peer reviewed
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• published articles
• presentations

IMPACT
• media attention
• citations
• number of views

All Possible Futures (2014)

Image credits: All Possible Futures website.

Jon Sueda (curation)

Curation as critical practice is also a scholarly means to investigate a topic and engage the public. All Possible Futures explores speculative work by contemporary graphic designers. This broad spectrum of work includes self-initiated projects, experimental client work, and other endeavors that respond to a question of “what if?” – and highlights the potential for expanding the conventional boundaries of design practice. Moving design away from its expected context, the exhibition provides opportunity for visitors to interact with designed “things” in a new way.

http://allpossiblefutures.net/

EFFORT
• curating
• researching

PRODUCT
• exhibition

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• invited (exhibition venue)

DISSEMINATION
• exhibition

IMPACT
• media attention
• number of visitors
• citations

Curarium (2015)

metaLAB, Harvard University

Curarium is an example of research at the intersection of experimental humanities, data visualization, and design. According to the project webpage, the interface is a “collection of collections, an ‘animated archive,’ designed to serve as a model for crowdsourcing annotation, curation, and augmentation of works within and beyond their respective collections.” Curarium integrates visual and interactive argumentation with storytelling and annotation, and presents a possible means to explore museum collections in a compelling, engaging way.

https://curarium.com/

EFFORT
• designing
• researching
• developing

PRODUCT
• website

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• peer reviewed
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• published articles
• presentation

IMPACT
• number of viewers or users
• citations

Casualties of War (2005)

Image credits: Daniel Jasper.

Daniel Jasper

Casualties of War is a series of design projects that sought to visually enumerate and differentiate the growing list of United States military fatalities in the current Iraq War. These are projects that enumerate the total number of fatalities (quantity) yet strive to differentiate among the individual soldiers (quality). For the first time in the history of the United States women are fighting in a war zone as enlisted soldiers and as a result many are dying. The quilt results from a process by which portraits of American women soldiers killed in the Iraq War are repurposed from digital images grabbed from the Faces of the Fallen interactive feature on WashingtonPost.com into large-scale patchwork quilts. The fabric is also repurposed from second hand clothing and upholstered furniture.

EFFORT
• designing
• creating

PRODUCT
• quilt

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• peer reviewed
• juried
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• exhibitions
• published articles
• presentation
• collections

IMPACT
• citations
• awards
• collections
• media attention

Emigre Magazine Index (2012), Vision in the Making (2017)

Image credits: Courtesy of the authors.

Jessica Barness

In these two projects, the contents of an archive or collection are translated to new contexts. The Emigre Magazine Index (left) is a digital interface developed as part of a public engagement program at the Goldstein Museum of Design. This online finding tool situates the contents and contributors of all sixty-nine issues in an interactive context, and served as a means to investigate authorship hierarchies and resulting navigational challenges. The close reading of texts outside traditional design literature prompted the development of Vision in the Making (right), a visual essay-manifesto composed of text snippets found within the editor’s introductions to inaugural issues of design periodicals. This textual assemblage preserves original typefaces and presents a glimpse of design publication history through critical, creative analysis.

http://jessicabarness.com/projects/emigre.html
http://jessicabarness.com/projects/vision-in-the-making.html

EFFORT
• designing
• researching
• developing
• prototyping

PRODUCT
• website
• article

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• peer reviewed
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• published articles
• presentations

IMPACT
• citations
• number of viewers
• media attention

WYSi-WE (What You See is What Emerged) (2013)

Image credits: Courtesy of the authors.

Jessica Barness

WYSi-WE (What You See is What Emerged) is a series of graphic assemblages created to investigate social intersections and photographic documentation of human nature. Photographs, sourced by keywords related to class, faith, gender, politics and sexuality, are fused together at the level of code bits (a technique known as databending or glitching) to graphically expose the influence of one piece of social identity on another. Understanding the visual work requires viewing the assemblages in published or exhibited form; each work is accompanied by documentation of its text-image parts, and the viewer is invited to read through the compositions in multiple ways.

http://jessicabarness.com/projects/wysiwe.html

EFFORT
• designing
• writing

PRODUCT
• collages
• article

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• juried
• peer reviewed
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• published articles
• presentation
• exhibitions

IMPACT
• citations
• number of exhibition visitors

Book Art The Information Electric Age (2015)

Image credits: Courtesy of the authors.

Steven McCarthy

Operating under the theoretical frameworks of ‘remediation’, ‘recontextualization,’ and ‘critical design,’ this project proposes an alternative method to standard book reviews and to notions of publishing. It is a critical book review with a supporting essay that includes an in-depth description of the author’s hybrid digital-analog process. Book Art is a critical remix of The Electric Information Age Book McLuhan/Agel/Fiore (Jeffery Schnapp and Adam Michaels), with cameo appearances by The Medium is the Massage. Book Art uses collage to reconfigure and re-imagine these books as a commentary on mediation, information, expression, communication, and authorship.

http://faculty.design.umn.edu/mccarthy/BookArt.html

EFFORT
• designing
• writing
• creating

PRODUCT
• book (on-demand distribution)

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• juried
• peer reviewed
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• published articles
• presentation
• exhibitions
• marketplace

IMPACT
• citations
• awards
• commercial success

Wee Go Library (2016)

Image credits: Courtesy of the authors.

Steven McCarthy

Wee Go Library is a small, mobile display unit for twenty-two altered books. The books were harvested from Little Free Libraries in the Twin Cities (“take a book, leave a book”) as a commentary on neighborhood, community, design, architecture, and of course, books. Custom-built oak and pine cabinets are mounted to a metal hand-truck; drawers are felt-lined; the Wee Go Library sign is laser-cut in oak. Each book is sourced to its donor library with a small pamphlet that has a pin-pointed map and photos of the library structure and sponsoring house. Various re-mixing techniques were used to enliven the books: collage, rebinding, cutting, folding, tearing and gluing.

http://faculty.design.umn.edu/mccarthy/WeeGoLibrary.html

EFFORT
• designing
• writing
• researching
• creating

PRODUCT
• cabinet
• books (altered)
• pamphlets

SELECTION PROCESS
• self-initiated
• juried
• peer reviewed
• invited

DISSEMINATION
• published articles
• presentation
• exhibitions

IMPACT
• citations
• awards
• media attention

Implications for Tenure and Promotion of Design Faculty

In conclusion, we recommend the following be considered by faculty engaging in critical practice as design scholarship. These questions should be addressed in the early stages of projects and research agendas — in connection with an institution’s guidelines for tenure and promotion – to clarify expectations and possibilities.

Academic Culture

  • Is your environment accepting of diverse forms of scholarship?
  • Are senior colleagues supportive?

Tools and Procedures

  • Do your tenure and promotion guidelines “literally” accommodate diverse forms of scholarship?
  • Can ‘novelty’ of critical practices be leveraged into impact, rigor, etc.?

Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Work

  • Can documentation, support, and legitimacy be garnered from other fields (humanities, the arts, sciences, etc.)?
  • Is collaborative work supported, and in what ways?

External Reviewers

  • Are the external reviewers appropriate for evaluating the candidate’s dossier for tenure and/or promotion?

Jessica Barness (MFA University of Minnesota) is an associate professor in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University. Her research resides at the intersection of design, humanistic inquiry, and interactive technologies, investigated through a critical, practice-based approach. She has presented, exhibited, and published her work internationally, and co-edited the special issue of Visible Language journal, Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities.

http://jessicabarness.com

Steven McCarthy (MFA Stanford University) is a professor of graphic design at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. His long-standing interest in design authorship, as scholar and practitioner, has led to publications, presentations, exhibits and grant-supported research in a dozen countries. His book on the topic, The Designer As… Author, Producer, Activist, Entrepreneur, Curator and Collaborator: New Models for Communicating was published in 2013 by BIS Publishers, Amsterdam. McCarthy is currently serving a three year term on the board of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

http://faculty.design.umn.edu/mccarthy/index.html