The design research journal Artifact has been transformed from an expensive print magazine to an online Open Access journal. The relaunch is consistent with a general trend toward free access to research knowledge and, editors Ida Engholm and Charlie Breindahl argue, also holds benefits for researchers.
By Trine Vu
The name, Artifact, is featured at the top of the opening web page in pencil doodle capitals. Underneath one finds the first in a series of design research articles from the journal Artifact, where the first issue is now online. For the first time freely available to everyone.
The underlying philosophy appears as simple and obvious as a pencil doodle: Research knowledge should be available, free of charge, to everyone. This transformation of Artifact from an exclusive printed design research journal to an online Open Access journal is part of a larger trend – an international mindset that has gained momentum in recent years thanks to technological developments.
Unrestricted Access to Research Knowledge
Recently, the Copenhagen Business School passed an Open Access policy, which requires the school’s researchers to share knowledge via Open Access systems. Aalborg University launched an Open Access policy in 2011 with the purpose of providing free access to the university’s research articles.
“This shift has occurred because there is a potential in making academic articles available through Open Access, and as editors we believe that everyone should have access to research-based knowledge. Knowledge sharing is the way of the future, and it is in the interest of all researchers to make research available to a larger audience,” says Ida Engholm, associate research professor at the Danish Centre for Design Research, as she explains the background for the decision to relaunch Artifact.
Ida Engholm co-edits Artifact together with Charlie Breindahl, and in cooperation with IT Worker Jeppe Morgenthaler the two have been preparing the transformation of the four-year-old print journal for just over a year.
|Good for research. The Open Access format lets the articles reach a larger audience of design researchers. And making research knowledge freely available facilitates research, say the editors, Charlie Breindahl (left) and Ida Engholm, who are seen here together with IT Worker Jeppe Morgenthaler.
Photo: Danish Centre for Design Research
In Everyone’s Interest
Ida Engholm argues that Open Access benefits society at large while also solving certain problems related to the dissemination of research knowledge.
Many of the academic journals are so expensive that only the large universities can afford a subscription. As a result, only researchers who are associated with one of the major universities can benefit from the research articles.
“That is not in the interest of the researchers or society at large. The point of Open Access is that there is a cost involved with production but not with reading. As a researcher I contribute in terms of work hours by making my article available – and this is something that society has already paid for via public research funding. Therefore, the individual reader should not have to pay once again to gain access to my research findings,” Ida Engholm explains.
Artifact was published in print from 2007 through 2009 featuring research articles by leading design researchers from all over the world; it is available in 638 libraries and 36 institutions around the world. After the transformation, the editors and the Danish Centre for Design Research, which initiated the relaunch, hope to reach an even larger audience of design researchers
A Huge Advantage for Researchers
The improved accessibility will also have a positive effect on the research itself, Ida Engholm explains.
“Open access to research actually helps the individual researcher. For example, it makes it easier to stay up-to-date in one’s own field of research – it is easier to make sure that one has not missed out on new knowledge within one’s field of research,” says Ida Engholm and adds,
“It’s also a huge advantage for researchers that in its Open Access format, Artifact makes it possible to publish on an ongoing basis.”
When research articles are published in print, it may take as long as a year and a half or even two years from the researcher submits the article until it is published. Ida Engholm has experienced this herself with a research article on webmuseum.dk, which was made obsolete by real-life developments before it was ever published.
“With such a lengthy process, researchers will often have moved on to new projects by the time the article is finally published. Faster publication times and thus more timely access to feedback makes for a much greater degree of continuity in the research process,” Ida Engholm explains.
Jeppe Morgenthaler, who is an IT Worker at the Danish Centre for Design Research, is also a member of the Artifact team. These days he is busy uploading the nearly sixty design research articles that were published in the print version of Artifact, and which are to be re-released in the new format. He says,
“One of the benefits of making Artifact an Open Access journal is that it’s possible to release an article even if some of the articles for a thematic issue are not yet ready for publication. If a topic is current, we no longer have to delay an article until all the other thematic articles are ready, as we did with the print model. That’s a major advantage.”
Call for Papers in Spring 2012
Artifact is published as an Open Access journal in a joint venture involving the Danish Centre of Design Research, Indiana University in the USA and Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. Indiana University hosts the journal, and the first issue, Vol. 1, No.1, is already online with thirteen articles under the common theme, “What is an artifact?” Over the coming months, new issues will appear with approximately eight articles per issue, until all the articles from the print editions have been re-released.
In early 2012, a call for papers will be issued inviting design researchers from all over the world to contribute to the new online version of Artifact.
The editorial line for Artifact requires all research articles to have practice relevance. They must have direct or indirect relevance for the design profession.
The Danish Centre for Design Research also hopes to be able to use the themes in Artifact as a basis for seminars, thus bringing design research to an ever wider audience, says Ida Engholm.
The Quality is Unchanged
Artifact’s transformation from print to Open Access journal does not diminish the quality of the research articles; as was the case for the print edition, a team of reviewers will ensure that the articles reflect top-level research.
“Technology makes the publishing process easier, but we maintain the same framework, including mandatory peer review,” says Ida Engholm.
Co-editor Charlie Breindahl also sees new opportunities in the editing process as a result of the Open Access format.
“The Open Access format makes it easier for all the members of the editorial team to follow the editing process, which also gives them greater influence. Following the manuscripts as they move through the system might spark an idea for a thematic issue, which one can then discuss with the rest of the team. It also makes it easier to include guest editors who can follow the individual issue directly, without a need for intermediaries. This means that more people can be included in the editing process and claim part of the credit for the outcome. It can become more of a joint project, which I think can be really beneficial,” says Charlie Breindahl.
Open and straightforward – like the pencil doodle capitals that Per Mollerup, professor of communication design at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, created for the redesign of Artifact.
Artifact available online
Artifact is available on this website: http://www.artifactjournal.org/
|See also our series of articles on Open Access.|