What We Publish

Prospective authors MUST follow the submission instructions articulated in the “SUBMIT A PAPER” section of Dialectic before attempting to submit their work for review. Additionally, as Dialectic publishes work that spans eight specific topical categories (see below), authors should take care to submit work that meets the specific parameters that have been articulated per these categories (again, see below). These parameters can also be found in the “Submittable” web portal operated by Michigan Publishing and the AIGA DEC that authors MUST use to submit their work for critical review and editorial assessment. All submissions for possible publication in Dialectic MUST be made online through this “Submittable” web portal. Please DO NOT attempt to attach submissions as parts of e-mails sent to any members of Dialectic’s Editorial Board, Advisory Team, its Producer, or any members of the national steering committee of the AIGA Design Educators Community.

Dialectic will publish material that meets the following categorical descriptions:

  • Position papers (between 2,000 and 3,000 words); these essays will present the readership of Dialectic with an opinion—of the author, or of a specified group of people or organization—about an issue or set of issues in a way or ways that make particular values and the belief systems that guide them known.
  • Research papers (between 3,000 and 6,500 words); these articles will recount how designers and design teams identified a situation that was problematic, formulated and operated research to understand the various factors, conditions and people involved that were affecting the situation, and then used their analysis of the data gathered from this research to guide design decision-making toward improving this situation. This type of writing should be grounded in evidentiary processes, and should clearly explicate a hypothesis, as well as posit and support a methodology and some form of a measurable data set.
  • Long-form case study reports or case series reports (between 3,000 and 4,500 words); these articles will describe how a particular person, group, project, event, experience or situation has been studied and analyzed, using one or more methods, during a specific span of time. These contributions should posit insights that exist as logical subsets of a larger category, and that are at least tangentially generalizable to the category. A case series report collectively describes how a group of individuals have responded to a particular type of treatment, experience or interaction. They can be used to help analyze and assess the responses of a cross-section of individual users to one or more iterations of an interface design, or an environmental graphics or wayfinding system, or a series of data visualizations.
  • Design criticism (as long-form essays of between 2,000 and 3,000 words); the goal of these pieces is to critically analyze design decision-making, and the affects that making and using what has been designed have on the operation and evolution of social, technological, economic, environmental and political systems.
  • Reviews of books, exhibitions, conferences, etc. (between 750 and 1,500 words); these shorter articles are written to critically analyze the efficacy of the structure, content, style, and relative merit of their particular subjects in ways that combine the author’s personal reactions and arguments to them with his/her assessment of how effectively they fulfilled or failed in their purposes.
  • Survey papers (between 2,000 and 3,000 words); these pieces are written to clearly summarize, organize, and analyze a select, topical grouping of scholarly articles, research papers, or case studies in a way that integrates and adds to the understanding of the work in a given discipline or field of study.
  • Theoretical speculations (between 3,000 and 4,500 words); these contributions will consist of attempts by their authors to explain a particular phenomenon, set of circumstances, or situational construct based on their ability to utilize observations rather than hard evidence to fuel speculative thoughts and suppositions. These contributions should be grounded in a viable paradigm, or use theory as a viable justification for what has been observed, and should be internally coherent and advance logical conclusions.
  • Editorial responses from Dialectic readers (between 750 and 1,200 words); Dialectic encourages its readers to submit critical responses to specific articles, editorials, or visual pieces that have been published in previous issues. Authors are also welcome to bring any issues that they believe are pertinent to the attention of Dialectic's readership. Editorial commentary relative to specific published articles and pieces will be sent to their author(s) so they can respond.
  • Original visual essays and narratives; A visual essay, or visual narrative, can illustrate a particular social, cultural, economic or public policy issue or problem. It can also present or exemplify an argument that supports or refutes a specific claim being promoted by a social, political, corporate or government group, or an individual. Additionally, it can also provide a means to articulate a personal story that relates an individual’s outlook or feelings about a given topic. Visual essays and narratives submitted to Dialectic must be comprised only of still imagery at this time, although we anticipate being able to accept video-based submissions, animations and motion-based material in the near future. At this time, visual essays and visual narratives submitted to Dialectic may be comprised of the following types of elements, or combinations thereof:
    • Photographs
    • Illustrative work
    • Prints
    • Graphic imagery
    • Typographic elements
    • Tables, charts, diagrams and maps

All visual essays/visual narratives must be accompanied by prose of between 400 and 900 words in length that articulates 1. how and why the piece, or system of pieces, came to exist as it did, 2. why its creator made the formal, metaphoric, rhetorical and/or ethical decisions that guided the evolution of the piece, and 3. what impacts or affects the creator of the piece hopes(d) it would or will have.”

The criteria specified in the “Illustrations, Graphics, and Photos” section of the “2016-17 Submissions Guidelines for Dialectic” document must be met, and submissions that are assessed by the Editorial Board and/or external reviewers to be visually compelling and conceptually provocative will be considered for publication, pending the availability of page space in a given issue.