Scholarly Writing Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Learning to Write as well as you think: engaging in strategies and tactics to improve written communication (especially the kind that can get published...)

This intensive, immersive workshop is designed to help participants formulate, frame and effectively author better design scholarship, research and criticism.

This three-hour workshop will be facilitated by Michael Gibson (producer and co-editor) and Keith Owens and Kenneth Fitzgerald (managing editor and editorial board member), of the AIGA DEC’s scholarly journal “Dialectic.” The intent of this workshop is to guide between 14 and 20 MAKE conference participants through the process of preparing written scholarship to meet the publication requirements of a credible journal, book or other scholarly venue. This intensive, abbreviated-yet-inclusive learning experience is designed to help design educators, researchers and scholars across career levels, from graduate students to individuals who have accrued many years of academic or professional experience. 

The knowledge that will be shared during our workshop, and that participants WILL ACTIVELY CONSTRUCT during its evolution, will aid and abet those attempting to write research reports, critical examinations, case studies, position papers, theoretical speculations, and grant proposals. The structure of this workshop is guided by both of the facilitators accrued experiences as both the authors of a variety of types of professional and scholarly writing and as critical readers, reviewers and editors working on behalf of Dialectic, granting agencies, other journals and book publishers. Workshop participants are encouraged to arrive with a briefly articulated idea—one to two sentences—for a piece of writing they intend to develop into a publishable discourse, article or book chapter, or even a partially completed manuscript. 

The workshop facilitators will commence this experience by making a brief presentation that addresses how and why the critical review processes in academic publishing and grant-writing work as they. This overview will provide the contextual framework for the remainder of the workshop activities. Participants will then be formed into groups of four to six for the remainder of the experience as they engage in the following iterative, developmental steps:

operating the “Bell Test” (Participants sit round a table with a single concierge bell placed in table-center. Each participant is given a copy of ~500 words of a potential scholarly piece—these are crafted by the facilitators based on actual submissions they have reviewed in the past. One participant reads the piece aloud while the others follow. As soon as ANYONE “has a problem” with ANY phrase, sentence or paragraph, he/she must literally ring the bell—which stops the reading—and verbally articulate the nature of the problem. The problem is noted, and the group works knowing that eight “bell rings” in 500 words will cause a submission to be rejected.)

locating” and framing subject matter

making sure you actually have something to say/contribute

outline and argumentative structure

“rough-writing” an introduction

group report outs

The facilitators of this workshop have been writing and reviewing scholarly material in and around design, as well as teaching writing to undergraduate and graduate design students, for almost two decades. Their experiences have time and again reinforced the idea that writing well enough to “withstand the rigor of the publication process”—like designing—can only be effectively learned by doing, and by doing iteratively and reflectively.

Professor Michael Gibson, The University of North Texas
Professor Keith M. Owens,  The University of North Texas
Professor Kenneth Fitzgerald, Old Dominion University