Paper Tracks: Provoking thought and dialogue

In 2021, the paper tracks were “Playing with Tensions.”

RSD paper tracks are a popular symposium format. They represent groupings of papers that the host partner organises in ways that create complementary ideas or counter-points. The paper tracks are curated to highlight interpretations of the theme and represent opportunities for dialogue amongst delegates.

RSD offers a platform for discussing ongoing work with peers and systemic design colleagues through the paper tracks. Authors submit working papers following a formal call for papers. Members of the scientific committee and volunteers who offer knowledge of the specific subject matter review the papers, which are accepted based on the established criteria. Then, authors present their papers and invite input to develop their work further.

The RSD10 team at TU Delft invited paper submissions for two tracks: short papers of continuing work and long papers for finished work. This idea came about to create consistency because, at RSD, papers are presented in “tracks”. The team then curated long and short papers into 17 tracks that served to provoke ideas and dialogue. The themes suggest possible trends or workstreams in systemic design:

1. Work in progress
2. State of the art
3. Education as a research platform
4. Design of food or water systems
5. Design methodological research to develop tools for dealing with systemic conflicts
6. Theoretical explorations of synergies between disciplines
7. Debunking implicit bias
8. Sensing momentum in system dynamics
9. Recognising trouble for changemaking
10. Transforming design to engage with complexity
11. Transforming dominant paradigms through action research
12. Providing new lenses for systemic design
13. Conceptual analyses of systemic design as a field
14. Crises as context for studying systemic design
15. Analyses of language, metaphors, and narratives
16. On critical contexts and circularity
17. Philosophical accounts of tensions and sensing wholeness

SDA Publications Ladder*

*SDA adopted the publications spiral in March 2022

RSD papers are peer-reviewed and guided by the annual scientific committee. Thus, they are automatically part of the SDA publication ladder, used consistently for all RSD symposia. It has also led to special issues of SHE Ji Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, FORMakademisk Research Journal of Design and Design Education, and several interdisciplinary journals and publications.

  1. Submission and peer review of abstracts
  2. Presentations and dialogues at the RSD symposium
  3. Post-production and final submission of working papers
  4. Publication of the symposium proceedings with SDA as the publisher
  5. Publication of selected, fully-developed, and peer-reviewed scientific papers in an external publishing channel

Many authors are motivated to present at RSD symposia for feedback and publish in an external journal. Sessions include a moderated discussion, and authors are offered time for a short break-out after their session to discuss their paper in more detail.

SDA Journal Call for Manuscripts

In addition to the external publishing activities of SDA board members and volunteers, SDA has formally announced a commitment to launching a society publication. The publications working group met over the first half of 2021 to define and assess feasibility and publisher and hosting options. As we developed the new SDA site,, we carefully considered the capabilities for self-publishing and managing reviews. The outcome is launching a peer-reviewed biannual SDA journal, beginning at the end of 2021, and a call for the first formal call for manuscripts at RSD10.

Update: Publishing as scholarship

After nearly a decade of promoting the RSD conference Publishing Ladder, SDA adopted a cyclic publishing “spiral” to re-centre systemic design publishing on the development of scholarship.

SDA publications spiral showing six possible steps
Posted October 2021
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