The Design Education Forum of South Africa (DEFSA) is the academic body that manages research for University design departments (from architecture to fashion). For 16 years I have co-ordinated member communication including email newsletters, the Member Zone document management application and their website.
Publication of Academic Research papers for educators in higher learning
An academic Research conference is held every second year. The conference committee changes every 2 years, so I have become their knowledge source on academic publishing and constantly changing international peer review best practice.
An academic conference is not about hiring caterers and venues. The process begins 18 months earlier with an international request for research papers on the Conference topic. Each paper must go through a rigorous peer review process that not only meets local legislation requirements, but also be approved by the international body.
In 2014 I specified and developed a web-based application that manages the complex and secure peer review process, co-ordinating 50+ submitted papers from universities across the world. A process that used to be a drain on members time (with erratic quality) is now streamlined, automated and efficient, ensuring that DEFSA members are enthusiastic to play a role in this extremely successful conference.
- Academics submit their abstracts outlining their research topic. The submission format ensures the paper meets specific requirements.
- Peer Reviewers are randomly allocated based on their subject discipline and institution.
- Peer Reviewers log in and assess each allocated abstract topic for quality and relevance.
- Based on peer reviews, the conference co-ordinators select which abstracts have preliminary approval for the conference.
- Successful Academics check their reviews and correct their abstract if necessary.
- Academics have up to 3 months to submit their full research paper
- Peer Reviewer log in and assess the full paper, providing critical comments.
- Academics are given access to their papers to make improvements.
- Final papers and presentations are uploaded by Academics to the website for the conference.
- After the conference, all approved papers are published to the public website.
- Throughout the process, academics and peer reviewers are kept informed through automated systems of progress of their paper through the system.
The entire process keeps a record of each step of the complex workflow. The process is confidential; no-one can know who failed their paper, or be influenced by the status of the author they are reviewing. Peer Reviewers can only see the abstracts and papers that have been allocated to them.
Thereafter a printed publication is produced and lodged with Government. Universities can receive millions in funding for accepted research papers generated by their academic staff.