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RSD Guidelines

by | Mar 2023 | Call for Contributions, For Contributors, RSD13

The RSD Style Guide provides basic submission guidelines so authors can actively contribute to the process of publishing articles online and developing a coherent set of proceedings. RSD contributes to the ethos of a shared and collaborative inquiry into the nature and potential of systemic design. The process starts with the submission—and as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.”

Style guide for documents

When contributors follow the basic formatting protocols provided here—from the proposal stage (i.e., the call for submissions) to updates to the final version included in the proceedings—the process works like a collaborative publishing venture between authors and publishers. The digital and print quality of presented work is improved, and the process reduces duplication and intensive editing for formatting and consistency across the RSD repository.

Please take a moment to read through the style guide; the guidelines will likely look familiar as they are closely aligned with the accepted standards for academic work and closely adhere to APA (7th edition) conventions. RSD has a few anomalies, such as numbered references (to support discoverability by Google Scholar), which are highlighted in RSD templates.

Read about the theme, sub-themes, and focus areas.

Submissions for all other formats are now closed.

Documents accompany all submissions

A formatted document that follows the RSD guidelines is required for all submission formats: full papers, presentations (short papers), workshops, and systems maps and exhibits.

As of 2022, RSD requires a document per the RSD styles described below to accompany each contribution. This requirement supports continuity across the repository, helps better site search results, and improves the potential for each article to be indexed for web searches and inclusion on Google Scholar.

Accepted papers and presentations represent a searchable scholarly and leading practice resource in systemic design. is a dual-purpose event site and repository with an astonishing 930+ contributions and supports a collaborative approach to working with authors and other contributors. We have an efficient approval-to-proceedings workflow—thanks to the help of host partners who make adjustments that result in continuous improvements. We look for opportunities to streamline the approval-to-proceedings online publishing process, improve the collection’s presentation, and reduce volunteer overheads.

  • The academic/programme committee distributes reviews and makes the final decision on whether to accept or reject a submission.
  • The accepted presentations and papers constitute the online proceedings.
  • The proceedings are published as online proceedings on
  • The online proceedings are an ongoing RSD series published by the Systemic Design Association (ISSN 2371-8404).
  • Some hosts also produce a downloadable PDF version of the proceedings comprising the submissions or abstracts bound together as a book. When the host organisation creates a downloadable print version, they post it with the online proceedings. (ISBN/EAN).

General guidelines for documents

Authors should follow the minimum requirements carefully. The academic/programme committee checks submissions to ensure they meet the minimum submission requirements before distributing them for review. Be sure your document meets the following guidelines, as there may not be time to turn around incomplete submissions or documents that do not meet the standard format.

Document structure

1. An abstract of at least 300 words

2. The submission must include:

a) A full paper is a manuscript of approximately 5,000 words that follows an academic paper structure
b) Presentations and reports also follow an academic paper structure but can be more descriptive and are approximately 2,500 words
c) Workshops, interactives, and other activities include a written brief of approximately 1,500 words
d) Maps and exhibits require a description of approximately 1000 words and an image
e) Panel proposals and speakers require only an abstract, which must be at least 300 words and can be longer. Essays and reflective pieces are encouraged before or after the presentation.

3. References following APA (7th edition) conventions

4. Author(s) profile(s) and contact information (optional)

Abstract: The abstract on the EasyChair submission form must be the same as the abstract in the paper or proposal (cut and paste from the final version).

Template: You must submit work in the RSD13 template to be reviewed.

References: All cited content must be correctly referenced (the references are not included in the word count). References help the reviewers to judge the context and trustworthiness of the work.

SEO and indexing: The 200-400 word abstract is used to improve search results across the website and by search engines. We also embed the submitted PDF on the same page (search engines index PDFs). Note that a correctly formatted PDF increases the likelihood of your work being indexed on Google Scholar. (Reference: Google Inclusion Guidelines for Webmasters)

Additional sections: Your reflexivity statement, land acknowledgement, or other information that will contextualise your work are welcome additions.

Note: References, authors, appendices, and acknowledgements, statements, author profiles, and resources are not included in the word count.

Setting up your document

With a little attention to detail, documents can look professional and align with RSD content requirements.

Getting started

Using the RSD13 template

  • The template is a Word (.docx) document but should translate to other systems.
  • If a different format is required, please contact
  • Note that the headings have been set in the template and should be followed.
  • Do not format without using the styles.


  • Use Heading 1.
  • Use Title Case (Capitalise each word, except articles (a, the) and conjunctions (and) in the title.)


  • Use the Subtitle style.
  • The subtitle is optional, do not add a period at the end.

Author names & affiliations

Use the following format:

first-name last-name, first-name last-name, and first-name last-name

IMPORTANT: For author(s), use the H3 style only and list names with commas; separate author names using a comma, and for the last author “, and” (Oxford comma).

Affiliation: Please add affiliations at the bottom of your paper. The template provides an example. As of 2023, affiliations will not be placed below the author(’s) name(s).


  • Indent abstract and use “Normal” from the Quick Style List.
  • Your abstract must be between 200 and 400 words. Since RSD is an online repository, the minimum ensures search engines will scan it.


  • List 4-6 keywords after the abstract.
  • Do not use a heading style.
  • Format keywords with a colon and commas (see example below).

Keywords: systemic design, holistic diagnosis, agricultural sector, ecosystem services, micro-enterprises

RSD Topic(s)

  • List up to three RSD topic areas.
  • Less is best—pick only the topic areas that fully align with your paper.
  • The RSD topic areas are Architecture & Planning, Cases & Practice, Economics & Organizations, Health & Well-Being, Learning & Education, Mapping & Modelling, Methods & Methodology, Policy & Governance, Society & Culture, Socioecological Design, and Sociotechnical Systems (see example below).
  • Check the site menu for examples of papers in each category.


RSD: Health & Well-Being


  • Use Heading 2 only and sentence case.
  • For other headings, use the “normal font” and bold.

Content Requirements

A cleanly formatted document makes it easier for reviewers to compare like-to-like—and not be distracted by inconsistencies in formatting, spelling, and style. Also, accepted submissions are posted online and available as preprints before and during the symposium.

  • Please prepare your submission using Microsoft Word if possible.
  • You must have the ribbon enabled to see the Quick Style List (view>ribbon).
  • Using the following naming convention— RSD11_AuthorLastName_Title
  • Add your name and information to the Word file’s Properties> Summary.

Here are some tips for bringing your content into this document.

  • When you are cutting & pasting, put your cursor where you want the content to appear and use Edit> Paste and Match style.
  • If your text is not displaying correctly, you might need to use Edit> Paste special> Unformatted text.
  • Do not use a simple paste, as this will bring formatting from your draft document into this one.
  • Use bullets and numbers from the home ribbon—make sure your punctuation is consistent for each bulleted or numbered section (i.e., sentence case or not, commas or not, etc.).

Referencing styles and conventions

Spelling and grammar

  • RSD uses British English for grammar and punctuation. After reviewing over 400 proceedings from RSD1 to RSD8, British English was selected as the RSD standard because the majority of articles used this standard.
  • Please ensure that your document settings are “English” (United Kingdom).
  • The Word template should also default to this setting. Please check to be sure it is set in your spellcheck for your RSD document.

Consider also using Grammarly or the Hemmingway Editor to check your work.

  • RSD uses Grammarly to line-edit content; settings expert>formal>academic>[intent as appropriate].


  • Sentence case—no period at the end of the heading.
  • Click on “Heading 1” or “Heading 2” from the Quick Style List to format headings.
  • If you need a lower heading style, use the “normal” style with bold or italics. All caps may also be used for headings in the “normal” style. Do not use H3; this is reserved for authors’ names.


  • Use the “normal” style above. Do not format text using the font and font size options. Apply “normal” by highlighting the text and clicking “normal.”
  • Do not add spaces between paragraphs. One space following a period, please.
  • If the font does not look right: highlight the content and click on “Normal” (or the style you want to use) in the Styles Pane.


  • Place images inline where you would like them to appear. You may also provide them as separate files if you would like to include them in the web post that accompanies your paper.
  • Use .png (best for graphics) or .jpeg (best for photographs).
  • All images must be relevant to the text and include captions. Use the “normal” style and drop the size to 10 points. Do not italicise or centre.


Figure 2. A contribution to the methodological repertoire of systemic design. Source: Author.

Other notes on style

Refer to APA (7th edition) conventions for guidelines on italics and quotation marks.

In-text citations follow APA conventions.

An easy-to-follow reference for style can be found on

Use lowercase for terms. Common RSD examples:

  • gigamap
  • systemic design
  • systems oriented design

Citations & Referencing

For convenience, here are examples of reference formats based on APA 7. Please use numbering for the reference section and do not indent or change the line spacing. This format helps web crawlers to identify the content as scholarly work and supports indexing on Google Scholar.

Authored book

  1. Krippendorff, K. (2006). The semantic turn: A new foundation for design. Taylor and Francis.
  2. Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (1969). The psychology of the child (H. Weaver, Trans.; 2nd ed.). Basic Books. (Original work published 1966)

Edited book

  1. Fischer, T., & Herr, C. M. (Eds.). (2019). Design cybernetics: Navigating the new. Springer.

Chapter within books

  1. Jones, P. H. (2014). Systemic design principles for complex social systems. In G. Metcalf (Ed.), Social systems and design (pp. 91-128). Springer.

Journal articles

  1. Bunnell, P. (2017). Reflections on learning as designing. Kybernetes, 46(9), 1486-1498.

Conferences: When citing a conference paper published in published conference proceedings, cite it as a book chapter if the publication has an ISBN or a journal article if it has an ISSN.

Conference presentations or sessions

  1. Krippendorff, K. (2021, July 7-13). A critical cybernetics [Paper presentation]. The Art and Science of the Impossible: The 65th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, online.

Published proceedings ISSN

  1. Krippendorff, K. (2021). From uncritical design to critical examination of its systemic consequences. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium.

Published proceedings ISBN

  1. Krippendorff, K. (2021). From uncritical design to critical examination of its systemic consequences. In Diehl, J.C., Tromp, N. & van der Bijl-Brouwer, M. (Eds.) Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium. TU Delft.

Theses and dissertations

  1. Fantini van Ditmar, D. (2016). IdIOT: Second-order cybernetics in the ‘smart’ home [Doctoral dissertation, Royal College of Art].


RSD13 Call for Reviewers

RSD13 Call for Reviewers

The peer-review period starts as soon as submissions are complete—no later than April 30—and runs until June 30. Please take a few moments to indicate your availability on the reviewer acceptance form.

RSD Review Process

RSD Review Process

Details about formats for authors, facilitators, and exhibitors. Contributions are included in the proceedings, a searchable repository of systemic design resources used by researchers, teachers, and practitioners.


Final submissions are due on
April 30

Open call for Reviewers
April 1–30

Feedback to authors
June 30

sessions OCTOBER 16–18

RSD13-OSLO & Nordmarka Forest October 22–26

Lidar-derived image of the Danube River and floodplain near Tulln, Austria. Daniel Coe. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

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