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PHD-DESIGN  September 2011

PHD-DESIGN September 2011

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Subject:

Re: Spamferences?

From:

Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 21 Sep 2011 12:01:44 +1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (47 lines)

Dear Lorenzo,

Your response to the query on Common Ground Publishers is well-intentioned, but slightly misleading. 

Common Ground organizes conferences and publishes journals in something like 25 fields. While the conferences have "chairs," none of the conferences has the kind of responsible development structure or chairing mechanisms that emerge from the disciplines. Common Ground owns and organizes the conferences, making decisions based on a business logic that suits their model. No one organization has the scope or depth of talent to organize conferences in as many disparate fields as Common Ground does. These would not be called scientific conferences in any of the concerned fields, and all of these fields have several well  known 
conferences and conference cycles of their own. For those who are curious, the web site makes the situation clear:

http://commongroundpublishing.com/

Nearly all the Common Ground journals have the same editor, Bill Cope. He owns Common Ground, a private, family-owned company. Some journals have a second editor, rarely a senior scholar in the field concerned. These are not scientific, discipline-based journals. All of these fields have well known and highly respected journals. The very notion that one scholar can responsibly edit 25 journals in 25 different fields makes the situation clear.

The conferences are NOT organized by or sponsored by the universities where they take place. Common Ground rents space. I once knew a business consultant who organized highly profitable North American tours for corporate leaders. A regular highlight of the trip was dinner in a particularly famous and prestigious room at Harvard University. The leaders were happy to recount their dinner at Harvard. It is correct to say that they had dinner at Harvard in the dining room of "X." It would be false to say that Harvard or "X" invited them to dinner. So it is with Common Ground. 

The Design Research Society, the Design Society, Cumulus, and others charge for conferences, as Common Ground does. But DRS, DS, Cumulus, and other such organizations are not-for-profit discipline-based scientific or educational organizations. Conferenc fees support the conference. Surpluses, if any, are used for future non-profit scientific and educational goals. When universities hold conferences, the same is true. Common Ground is a privately-held, profit-making organization. The books are private, and the owners of Common Ground do not report their profits. At the end of the day, the profits belong to the owners.

In my view, the model of the Common Ground conferences and publishers like Common Ground are business models. As such, they do well for the companies and their owners. I question their value to the disciplines or fields in which they identify and market to an audience of generally naive or younger researchers. When budgets permit, Swinburne University of Technology Faculty of Design helps to fund our researchers and staff members to attend and participate in serious, peer-reviewed conferences to which they submit accepted papers. We do not fund or support participation in Common Ground conferences. 

One mark of a serious peer-reviewed, discipline-based conference is that it should lead to a journal article in a respected peer-reviewed journal in the field. This is quite different to publication in the privately-owned journal of the privately-owned company that owns the conference.

We encourage our researchers to submit articles to leading journals, with an emphasis on journals covered by SCI-E, SSCI, and AHCI. We reward such publications through a faculty incentive plan. We also encourage and reward publications in other journals that are known for rigorous peer review and a strong publishing record. We do not encourage publishing in the Common Ground journals.

Like Terry, I once served as an advisor and a keynote at a Common Ground conference. It was a lovely, intimate conference. I had a good time. But, like Terry, I learned that they do not take advice or engage with advisors in a serious way. On one or two issues, they did take advice, but they did not follow up. Like Terry, I found that some advisors did not know that they are advisors -- others have apparently asked to be removed without results. Some just don't care enough to bother.

My advice? There are now many serious conferences in the design field. Unless you want to vacation in Rome or LA or wherever they are holding a conference next, I'd be thinking about participating in DRS, DS, IASDR, or other research-based, relevant conferences. Then I'd try to publish your paper in Design Studies, Design Issues, International Journal of Design, Journal of Design Research, Design and Culture, Design Journal or the other serious, highly respected and well cited journals in our field. There is only so much time in life to write papers or attend conferences -- and only so much money to do it with. We've got to make the investment of research time and travel money count. Best to spend them wisely.

Warm regards,

Ken

Professor Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | University Distinguished Professor | Dean, Faculty of Design | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Australia | [log in to unmask] | Ph: +61 3 9214 6078 | Faculty www.swinburne.edu.au/design


Lorenzo Imbesi wrote:

--snip--

1) Common Ground organizes scientific conferences in a number of different fields and holds a journal where 
are published a selection of the papers presented at their conferences. 

--snip--

2) I personally don't recall any other conference where I presented (Cumulus, ICSID, EAD, DesignED, ...), where I didn't have to pay for registration and of course it is easily understandable that any kind of organization has its costs.

--snip--

3) On the top of that, every conference is somehow also the result of the work of the University which hosts it and then every time may be a different experience.

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