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
  • “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 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.


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

University of Illinios at Urbana Champaign (writing resources: writer resources)

USC Libraries: Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 3. The Abstract


How to write an effective title and abstract and choose appropriate keywords

3 Basic tips on writing a good research paper title

Springer Title, Abstract and Keywords

How to Write an Abstract


A Manual For Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations

Stylish Academic Writing

Guide to Publishing in Psychology Journals

The Elements of Style Fourth Edition

The Design Incubation Residency at Haddon Avenue Writing Institute

Rolling acceptances until Sept 30, 2018. Only 12 seats are available for this event.

Design Incubation is proud to be able to partner with the Haddon Avenue Writing Institute to offer a design-writing residency. This 2-3 day residency allows researchers and scholars time to work on existing writing projects or to start a new writing project. The residency is open to design faculty and to those working in related fields. It offers participants concentrated time to work on writing projects and the opportunity to take advantage of one-on-one consultations with event facilitators Maggie Taft and Aaris Sherin. Using the online registration system (see below), applicants should submit a CV and a 200-500-word synopsis of the project they intend to work on. The cost is $100 for 2 days and $150 for 3 days. Participants may choose to attend either 2 or 3 days. A total of 12 seats are available for this event.

Applications will be considered immediately upon submission and they can be submitted through September 30th, 2018. Official letters of acceptance will be provided to allow attendees to request funding from their institutions.


Haddon Avenue Writing Institute
2009 W. Haddon Ave, Chicago Illinois

Please note: Housing is not included as part of this residency. Participants are encouraged to stay in Ukrainian Village or a nearby neighborhood though if you choose to stay at a hotel you may have to stay in downtown Chicago as options in the immediate area are limited to Airbnb’s.


October 26-28, 2018

The Haddon Avenue Design Writing Residency Schedule:

Friday, October 26th: 10-5

Facilitators: Maggie Taft and Aaris Sherin

10-12:30: Individual writing session

12:30-1:30: Lunch

1:30-5:00: Individual writing session


Saturday, October 27th: 9-5, 6-8 (optional reception)

Facilitator: Maggie Taft

9-9:30: Welcome; Goal setting

9:30-12:30: Individual writing session

12:30-1:30: Lunch (bring your own or in the neighborhood)

1:30-2:00: Techniques for overcoming writer’s block, the blinking cursor, and other writing obstacles

2:00-5:00: Individual writing session

5:00-6:00: Break

6:00-8:00: Reception (optional)


Sunday, October 28th: 9-4:30

Facilitators: Maggie Taft and Aaris Sherin

9-12: Individual writing session and optional one-on-one strategy sessions by appointment

12-1: Lunch (bring your own or in the neighborhood)

1-3:30: Individual writing session and optional one-on-one strategy sessions by appointment

3:30-4:30: Group wrap up

Contact information:

Questions can be sent to Aaris Sherin, Director of Fellowships at Design Incubation

Writing Residency Application Form

Complete the form below and submit online. Payment will be required upon acceptance to secure the seat.
  • 200–500 word description of the writing project.
  • Upload cv in one of the following formats: in txt, rtf, docx, or pdf format
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: txt, rtf, docx, doc, pdf.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Academic Publishing: Proposing a Book


CC: My name is Catherine C, I’m the Assistant Editor for Design at Bloomsbury Visual Arts

LB: and I’m Louise Baird Smith, im the Commissioning Editor for Design and Photography books

LB: So this is a talk in collaboration with the Design Incubation team and Bloomsbury Publishing, just talking you through really how to start off with the book proposal, how to present it, and is it what we are looking for.

What is Your Book?

LB: So the first thing you want to establish is, what is the book? What sort of book is it?

  • Is it a going to be a research book—so you are looking at a quite high level specific academic scholarly work?
  • Or is it something that might be used by students and professionals in their day-to-day lives?
  • Or is it something like a text book, that would be used by a first year or above undergraduates.
  • Or is it going to be a big reference book which is covering the whole state of a specific topic or subject?

Once you establish what sort of book its going to be, you have to work out who it is for. So like these ones, this is what you would have for the students, books for the researchers, and books for academics.

You need to look at why they actually want that book? Is it something that is going to be aligning to their course, or is it going to be something that they need to pass exams, or is it looking at a new technology that they might be using in their work?

So those are the key considerations that you need to think about when you start looking at a book proposal. And then you’ll need to think about which publisher you’ll be looking to contact.

Choosing Your Publisher

CC: In terms of choosing a publisher, doing some research and just looking at websites is obviously a really good idea. You’ll want to look at a publisher who already publishes books in your area. And just checking websites is a really good way to.

LB: And different publishers might have different lists they work from, and so you might have one publisher, like Taschen, who do big beautiful books that might end up in museums. But you might have others who are like university presses, who wouldn’t necessarily have books that go into bookstores, but are very high level research. So having a look at the different focus they have is very important.

The Proposal

CC: When you get to the stage of wanting to put together/prepare a proposal, most publishers, definitely Bloomsbury, has a set book proposal document which we like authors to complete. You can find that on our website, and all academic contacts are listed on the website. So if you just get in touch, someone will be very happy to send you their document.

Its really good to give as much detail as possible and to stick (obviously) to the structure of their proposal document. So that’s just basically looking at things like—what your books is about, what is its coverage, what is the kind of structure. We ask for an annotated table of contents— that can be very really useful for us in terms of gauging what the book is going to be used for.

LM: That’s basically like how you would have an abstract for a journal—so just a really short description of each chapter.

CC: If you can give us some information about what is unique about your book, what is special about it, in what way is it better than competitive titles, who you think the potential readers will be.

And also see what your experience is, sometimes some authors submit CVs, alongside their proposal documents — which can be really helpful.

LM: Particularly if you teach in the area, or have done specific research already— that is really good for us to know.

And, depending on the publisher as well, they may ask for some sample material. Particularly on the certain textbook side, its really important for us to have a sample chapter, or a sample of a few pages from a chapter, so we can see the writing style, and the level that you write at. For academic books, it might be less important. But each publisher will work in a different way. Some will ask for the whole book, but the majority of publishers will want to see some sample material, and then they can work with you on that.

So the general process is, once you have put together this proposal document, it will go to me or one of my colleagues, who will send you feedback on whether it looks roughly appropriate for the list. If it aligns with the current books that we have got. It is not competing with something we already have? Is it filling a gap in our list, for a market that we can reach with our contacts?

If it is all looking good, and it is looking like a topic of interest, then we will send you feedback— it is a sort of collaboration between you and us making sure it is as strong as it can be at proposal stage. A lot of the development work happens up front, particularly with the more academic books. We want to make sure it is we are both clear on the process and what the actual project would be.

Then we, sort of, look at financial aspects as well at that point. If it is going to be a book based around gallery or archival material—that is obviously very expensive. So if it is a book that has a very small market that could mean financially it would not work for us. So these are the sorts of things we consider at that first, initial stage.

Once we are happy with it, then we will take it onto peer review, which CC will mention in a second. Occasionally it will not be the right book for us or if needs changes—it might not quite what you want to publish. So if it does not look like it would work for the first publisher you contact that does not mean it is not a good potential book and we would be happy to put in the direction of someone it might fit with better if it is not right for our list at that point.

Peer Review to Contract

CC: So if we think it is a project that might be interesting for us, we would send it up for peer review to academics who teach or research in the area, just to get some initial feedback of what they think of it. Obviously we can advise from a publishing perspective but it is really good to get expert advice from people working in that area. We do organize that anonymously, but you do see on the proposal document that we invite suggestions if there’s someone that would be particularly suitable to review a book. We are always very happy to hear your ideas.

LM: And it helps guide us where we send it to, and if we don’t need some specific thing.

CC: That is something that we organize. We aim to get peer review feedback completed in a month. Sometimes the process can take longer, We will return that feedback to you anonymously and then it would be…

LM: And then we discuss it through— both in terms of the editor and editor’s assistant—whomever is working with you on the project at that point. We chat through peer review and work out if its something that we need to do changes on, or if it is looking strong as it is. Occasionally there might be a second round of peer reviews if big changes need to be made. But we use that, like I said as guidance, we can look at it as a book project but actually from the academic side its really helpful to have that extra peer review level of assessment as well.

So if we decide at that point if the project can work for us both financially and in terms of adding something to the field that is new then we put together a proposal pack for our publishing committee—that is sales, marketing, and editorial colleagues—who will look at the project as a potential investment basically for the publisher. We’ll look at potential print run, costings, royalties, looking at the scope of the book, whether is it international coverage. And the marketing, where will be pushing the book to?

And hopefully at that point if all goes through then we’ll be able to offer a contract. That is the point at which you and your editor will discuss and agree what you are agreeing to and what the publishers are agreeing to. That is usually in terms of delivery time scales, what it is that each party are doing? For most publishers its a pretty standard template of what is covered, it usually includes things like proofreading, and who’s responsible for that, who is responsible for the indexing, and number of images and words.

LM: I don’t if know if you want to run over, quickly the time frame that are usually involved in each stage up to the contract?

CC: Yeah. definitely. So when you send us a proposal we will always acknowledge it and then aim to get our in-house editors feedback to you within a month. On from that, we aim to have peer review back to you within hopefully the maximum of 3 months. And then typically the full process—from us receiving the proposal to making revisions as necessary following the review to being able to offer a contract—would be hopefully about 6 months.

LB: That is the ideal. Sometimes its quicker, sometimes its slower. It sort of depends on the time of year and often the kind of revisions that are needed.

After Contract

So once you are offered a contract, once its signed, you usually have, it is usually about a year to a year-and-a-half to write the book, but obviously that is done in collaboration with you, if you are going up for tenure, or if you are having a sabbatical that might affect the time frame that you have to write the book. So we want to work with you to make sure you’ve got a date that is accurate that we don’t end up missing because that could be quite disasterous for our books. So that is done in collaboration with you, and during that process there are various points where you check-in with the editorial team in house. So you might be working with the development editor if you are working with one of the thick textbooks. So they will be working with you on individual chapters, and images, and things like that. So there is various stages throughout that process. That is before it gets peer reviewed, and taken through to the production process, which is when its copy edited, proofread, typeset, all the rest of that.

Bloomsbury Information

Some reasons to publish with Bloomsbury: we combine the best of an academic press in that we have 2 stages minimum of rigorous anonymous peer review.

And we combine that with the best parts of a trade publisher in that our books look really nice. This is especially relevant for Visual Arts publishing.

We really pride ourselves on having good relationships with authors. Its a much more personal relationship than perhaps some of the bigger publishers. You will have one editor who will work with you through the publishing process.

Final Points

That is a very quick run through of the publishing process, up to contract. After that point you just have to write the book. So pretty easy (laugh). So if you have any questions, our contact details will be available after this. Thanks!

Academic Publishing
Design Incubation/Bloomsbury
Louise Baird-Smith – Commissioning Editor for Design and Photography, Bloomsbury


Design Incubation Fellowship 2018: Call for Applications

Design Incubation is currently accepting applications for the January 2018 Fellowship and Workshop Sessions. The application deadline is September 1, 2017.

Application Process

Design Incubation welcomes online applications for the January 2018 Fellowship and Workshop Session. Applications are being accepted June 1, 2017–September 1, 2017.

The upcoming 2018 Design Incubation Fellowship will be held January 11–13, 2018 at the Manhattan campus of St. John’s University, 51 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003.

Applicants are required to provide contact information, title/current rank, institutional affiliation, a CV, and a 200-word biography. Candidates also need to indicate for which of the 2 tracks they are applying. (see Fellowship Program Format.)

Preference will be given to full-time faculty currently employed by accredited colleges or universities. Adjuncts and independent scholars are also encouraged to apply.

There is no fee to apply for the Design Incubation Fellowship. However upon acceptance there is a $200 fee for the 3-day workshop and all Fellows must be available to participate in person at the Design Incubation Fellowship workshops. A formal letter of acceptance will be provided so attendees can apply for travel funds from their home institutions and pay the workshop fee to reserve their place.


Design Incubation Fellows commit to working on a research project for six months. The Fellowship begins with a three-day workshop (see below) where participants learn about different modes of publishing and writing strategies. During the six months following the Workshop, Fellows pledge to continue to work on their projects during which time they receive feedback and group checkin’s. The 2018 Design Incubation Fellowship Workshop will take place at St. John’s University’s Manhattan Campus on January 11-13, 2018. All Fellows are required to participate in the Fellowship Workshop.

Design Incubation Fellowship 2018

January 11–13, 2018. New York City. A three-day workshop facilitating academic writing and publishing for designers.

The mission of Design Incubation is to support and facilitate the development of research in the field of communication design. The organization works with academics and practitioners to create scholarly discourse and publications focused on creative projects, critical analysis, historical perspectives, technological advances and other topics relevant to design studies.

Visit the Fellowship Program Format page for details on the fellowship and program format.

Applications accepted: June 1, 2017 – September 1, 2017. Visit the Fellowship Application page for details to apply.

2017 Design Incubation Fellowship
January 11 –13, 2018
St. John’s University’s Manhattan campus


The 2018 Design Incubation Fellowship Workshop will include sessions with Maggie Taft, Managing Editor of the journal Design and Culture as well as guest appearances by a number of authors and publishers. Aaris Sherin is director of the Design Incubation Fellowship program. Sherin is a Professor of Graphic Design at St. John’s University in New York and author of a number of books including her most recent titles Elaine Lustig Cohen: Modernism Reimagined and Sustainable Thinking: Ethical Approaches to Design and Design Management. (See below for schedule.)

Day 1

Thursday, January 11th

Introductions with Hosts

Dan Wong, Co-founder of Design Incubation
Liz Deluna, Co-chair Design Incubation
Robin Landa, Co-Chair Design Incubation

Structuring Scholarship

Aaris Sherin
Director of Fellowships at Design Incubation

Lunch break (see recommendations)
Writing for Journals: Workshop Session

Maggie Taft
Managing Editor, Design and Culture

Day 2

Friday January 12th

Book Publishing with Bloomsbury Publishing

Louise Baird-Smith
Commissioning Editor – Design and Photography Bloomsbury Visual Arts

Break Out Session / Working Groups

Facilitated by Maggie Taft, Robin Landa, Aaris Sherin, and Elizabeth Guffey. Participants will work on drafts of their writing in small groups.

Lunch break
12:30pm–1:30pm (see recommendations)
Writing Process and Feedback
1:30pm –2:30pm

Andrew Shea
Author of Design for Social Change
Principal of design studio, MANY

Break Out Session / Working Groups
2:30pm –5:30pm

Facilitated by Maggie Taft, Robin Landa, Aaris Sherin and Elizabeth Guffey

Day 3

Saturday January 13th

Break Out Session / Working Groups

Facilitated by Maggie Taft, Robin Landa, Aaris Sherin, and Elizabeth Guffey

Lunch break
12:30pm–1:30pm (see recommendations)

Robin Landa
Distinguished Professor Kean University
Author over twenty books including
Nimble: Creative Thinking in the Digital Age

Elizabeth Guffey
Professor State University of New York
(SUNY) at Purchase
Author of Posters: A Global Perspective, and Retro: The Culture of Revival Founding Editor of Design and Culture

Sharing Session / Wrap Up
Group Dinner (Optional)

Please note: This schedule is tentative and is subject to change.

2018 Senior Fellow

Maria Rogal
School of Art + Art History
Graphic Design Program & Affiliate Faculty
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida

2018 Fellows

Camila Afanador-Llach
Assistant Professor
Department of Visual Arts and Art History
Florida Atlantic University

Denise Anderson
Assistant Professor
Robert Busch School of Design
Michael Graves College
Kean University

Liat Berdugo
Assistant Professor
University of San Francisco

Anne Berry
Assistant Professor
Cleveland State University

David Hardy
Assistant Professor
James Madison University

Jessica Jacobs
Assistant Professor
Columbia College Chicago

Cynthia Lawson
Associate Professor
Integrated Design
The New School

Christine Lhowe
Seton Hall University

Courtney Marchese
Assistant Professor
Quinnipiac University

Daniel McCafferty
Assistant Professor
University of Manitoba

Grace Moon
Adjunct Professor
CUNY Queens College

Sarah Rutherford
Assistant Professor
Cleveland State University

Misty Thomas-Trout
Assistant Professor
University of Dayton

Karen Zimmermann
University of Arizona

Local Lunch and Coffee Spots

13-25 Astor Pl, New York, NY 10003

Pret A Manger
1 Astor Pl, New York, NY 10003

Le Petite Parisien – Sandwiches / Baguettes
32 E 7th St
New York, NY 10003

Mamoun’s Falafel – Middle Eastern
30 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

V-Spot – Vegan / with Gluten Free options
12 Saint Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

Bluestone Lane (coffee shop)
51 Astor Pl, New York, NY 10003
(just downstairs in the same building as SJU)

Chopt Creative Salad Co.
51 Astor Pl, New York, NY 10003
(just downstairs in the same building as SJU)

Many tasty Ramen and Sushi places on St. Marks between 2nd and 3rd Ave.

Design Incubation Fellowship Redux: Fellows Get Published

Meaghan Barry, Assistant Professor at Oakland University and Aaron Ganci, Assistant Professor at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art and Design, two of our 2016 Design Incubation Fellows have recently published in the journal Design and Culture.

Barry’s Statement of Practice interview with designer, performance artist, and Cranbrook Designer-in-Residence Elliot Earls explores the many facets of Earl’s practice and the evolution of his thinking about design, education and performance over the last several decades.

Ganci reviewed John McCarthy and Peter Wright’s text, Taking [A]part: The Politics and Aesthetics of Participation in Experience-Centered Design.

Barry and Ganci continued their writing projects with the support of Design Incubation’s Fellowship Director, Aaris Sherin, to craft these articles.

For more information on how Design Incubation supports design writing and publishing see the Fellowship page on the Design Incubation website. Applications for the 2018 program will be accepted June 1, 2017 – September 1, 2017.

Webinar: The Writing and Publishing Challenge @RGD

A webinar discussing design scholarship with an emphasis on the intersection of professional practice and writing.

A webinar discussing design scholarship with an emphasis on the intersection of professional practice and writing. Information about discipline specific journals and book publishers.

As design educators we are increasingly asked to do it all. We need to excel in the classroom, provide service to our institution, maintain a professional practice and publish and engage in design-related scholarship.

See more at: http://www.rgd.ca/events-and-programs/rgd-events/events/