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Quality Perceptions of Design Journals: The Design Scholars’ Perspective
Swinburne University of Technology

Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2011.09.001

Above: Photo by Eskay Lim.
Above: Photo by Eskay Lim.

Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2011.09.001

The first rigorous study ranking the quality of design journals is now available. Published in Design Studies 33 (2012), the study is a collaborative effort between the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, and Faculty of Design, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Lead author is Dr. Gerda Gemser, co-authors include Professor Cees de Bont, Professor Paul Hekkert, and Professor Ken Friedman.

The first academic journals reporting on research in the field of industrial design appeared in the late 1970s and 1980s. The primary objectives of this study were to identify a set of core journals relevant to industrial design research and to establish quality rankings of those design journals.

“The design field has developed into a solid scientific discipline,” says Dr. Gemser. “This discipline now has a core set of highly-valued journals. These journals have initiated a virtuous circle in which design academics want to publish their best work, a situation which enhances the scientific quality of these design journals even further.”

Based on an online survey, design journals were assessed in terms of two quality metrics: popularity and indexed average rank position. The results of the study offer a guide to both evaluators and those evaluated when judging or selecting research outlets.

‘Quality Perceptions of Design Journals’ follows an initial study to identify a list of design-orientated journals. Conducted at Swinburne University of Technology in 2008 (Friedman et al.) the study measured popularity on rank order without a measure for overall quality. The 2008 study covered both academic and professional journals.

Since promotion and tenure for university faculty generally depends on publishing, ambitious design researchers may prefer to publish in journals with high impact—a measure reflecting the average number of citations to articles published. As a result, design researchers may be tempted to send their best work to journals outside the design field. National research funding programs often encourage this trend because many research funding schemes favour researchers and institutions that have an established publication track record when allocating research funds.

“For the first time, a study identifies the top journals in design,” says Professor Friedman “Our goal was to encourage authors to send their best research to the best journals in our field. This study emphasizes the shift to empirical research in the design field. Delft and Swinburne collaborate on empirical research in the design field with peer-reviewed publication as the outcome. This study examines an aspect of our common focus.”

Understanding journal quality is vital because research quality is a primary criterion on which universities and other research funding bodies evaluate faculty research performance.

www.io.tudelft.nl/en/
www.swinburne.edu.au/design


February 18, 2012