Provisional Peer Review Process (2021)

Description Start Date
1 Announcement of Conference Theme and Call for Abstracts December 2020
2 Registration & Submission of abstract (Online form) From 15 Feb
3 Conference Committee Review of Abstracts 7 April
4 Acceptance of Abstract Mid-April
5 Submission of Full paper (Anonymous) 60-80 papers Mid-June
6 Peer Review of Full Paper (2 reviewers per Paper) End Aug
7 Conference committee review of "outliers" End Aug
8 Conference Exhibition Materials submitted End Aug
9 Submission of Full Paper & supporting documents End Sept
10 Full Papers made available online to paid delegates* 1 Oct
11 Conference Presentation and Peer Q&A 4 Oct
12 Revised Final (Revised) Paper & Presentation (optional) 20 Oct
13 Conference Proceedings Document 10 Dec
14 Conferencing Papers published on website January 2022

Please note this process is still under review, to ensure that it conforms to DET requirements.

1. Conference Theme

The theme is selected by the host institution in consultation with the DEFSA management committee before the end of the previous year. The Call for Abstracts is announced on the DEFSA website as soon as possible, together with any sub-themes, preliminary deadlines, instructions for submission and requirements.

Committee Members are requested to invite all potential authors and reviewers in their institution to self-subscribe to the DEFSA mailing list in order to receive emails about the conference. At the beginning of the Peer Review period, the mailing list is reviewed. Participants may unsubscribe at any time, if they decide against either submitting a paper OR taking part in the review process.

From late January, the Call for Abstracts is shared on LinkedIn to draw international professional audiences. Committee Members are requested to share announcements on their LinkedIn account.

2. Submission of Abstracts

A Word Template for the abstract is provided. The template does not include the Authors names or institutions. Instructions and links are sent as an email to the DEFSA mailing list. Templates and instructions will be published on the DEFSA Member Zone.

Abstracts are submitted via the website with an attached PDF (Authors do not need an account, or to be logged in for the intial submission).

Additional information requested during submission includes the author’s name, discipline, institution etc. PDF files are renamed to the supplied Short Title. Email submissions are not accepted.

3. Conference Committee Review of Submissions

Authors should anticipate that at least half the Abstracts submitted will be rejected. The committee's decision is final.

Conference Committee Members must have an account on the DEFSA Member Zone. PDF’s of each abstract will be available for download,  categorised by discipline. The Committee Members are expected to critically review all abstracts in their own discipline, as well as at least half of the expected 200 abstracts.

Criteria for acceptance are straightforward:

  1. Does the paper address the conference theme?
  2. Does the paper contribute to Design Education in Africa. Is it relevant to local theory and practice, technologies, methodologies, knowledge, curricula, pedagogy and assessment?
  3. Does the paper present an academically sound argument that contributes to original, evidence-based research output (and not simply opinion or hearsay)?
  4. Weighting to ensure the Conference as a whole includes a balance of stimulating and unusual topics that challenge the status quo, as well as the broadest range of institutions, disciplines, learning theories and authors.

4 Acceptance of Abstract

Authors will be notified by email if their Abstract has been accepted.

If an abstract has been accepted "only with modification", the author is required to take note of any comments and either adjust their abstract and/or address these issues in the full paper. Failure to address issues in the paper, presentation or post-presentation Q&A, can result in the Full Paper being rejected for publication in the final Conference Proceedings.

5. Full Paper Submission

This part of the process is not finalised for 2021.

The Webmaster will move accepted abstracts to the DEFSA Member Zone. Authors not already registered on the website will be provided with an account.

Full papers are in MS Word format - a Word template will be provided. The Full Paper must not have content that identifies the author.

Papers are uploaded to the Abstract. Authors may update their abstract at this point - revisions are tracked. Papers that no longer correspond to the critical aspects of their abstract may be rejected.

6. Full Paper Peer Review

Each Paper is reviewed in a double-blind peer review process i.e. anonymity for both authors and reviewers. Authors do not know who conducted their reviews, Reviewers do not know whose paper they are reviewing.

At the beginning of the Review period, Peer Reviewers are requested to confirm that they are available to review Papers. Peer Reviewers should be aware that the MINIMUM time required to review a Paper is 45 minutes and most Reviewers will be given 6-8 papers. At least a full day should be set aside.

Peer Reviewers are pre-registered on the DEFSA Member Zone ( and must submit their assessments via the website. The process is similar to 2019.

Peer Reviewers complete their review which involves a sliding scale of fixed questions, plus a free-form assessment. Peer reviewers should be prepared to provide some detail, particularly for negative evaluations.

Full Papers are evaluated against the following criteria:

  1. The research is relevant to the conference theme.
  2. The title, abstract and keywords accurately reflect the paper’s contents.
  3. The paper is evidence-based, and clearly define the methodology, research tools and research questions
  4. The paper clearly states the problem, outcomes, findings or conclusions. The structure is clear and logical.
  5. The paper includes sufficient, relevant learning theory and is such knowledge clearly portrayed and correctly cited.
  6. The paper presents new knowledge or insights, and contributes to teaching or learning in a creative discipline.
  7. Ethical requirements have been addressed, including how the research was conducted.
  8. The paper adhere to the style guidelines? References must be relevant and accurate.

A list of the peer reviewers is included in the Conference Proceedings.


If you are invited to review a full paper, please consider:

  1. Is the Paper within your area of expertise?
  2. Are you sure you will complete the review by the deadline?

Peer Reviewers are expected to provide a critical assessment of the paper, and may recommend modifications.

The Role of the Peer Review is to assessing the academic validity and relevance of the paper! If you are tempted to “track changes” in order move or edit paragraphs, or give an opinion on a theoretical viewpoint, you are becoming bogged down in the detail. Your role is to assess the "big picture"!

Reviewers will have an opportunity to take part in the Q&A after each presentation. It is therefore highly recommended that Reviewers also attend the conference.

7 Conference Committee Review

The conference review committee makes decisions where there is a significant discrepancy between reviewer evaluations. Where the Conference committee requires a revision, the Final Paper will not be published if the author does not address serious issues in their Final Paper or presentation, or at their Q&A. Any identified plagiarism will automatically disqualify a paper.

8 Acceptance of Full Paper

Authors are advised of acceptance of their full paper by email.

9 Submission of Final Paper

Authors submit their Final Paper by email. They are welcome to include supporting documents, presentations or links that might interest the delegates.

10 Pre-event Publishing

The DEFSA virtual conference portal will include sections for each author (categorised by Discipline). Each author may choose to include pre-event reading materials, supporting documents, presentations or links that might interest the delegates. The portal content is still to be finalised, but could include discussion forums and an opportunity to network with the author and other delegates interested in this topic and discipline.

It is expected that the portal will be available from 1 week prior to the conference, to give delegates an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Papers and topics.

11 Conference Presentation

Papers must be presented at the virtual conference by the author or a co-author. Only in extreme cases and with the pre-approval of the Conference Committee, may a paper be presented by a third party.

If the author is unable to present on the day, the paper will not be included in the Conference Proceedings even if it was Accepted. Please ensure that you are available for the virtual conference on the dates specified.

It is expected that the portal and related visual exhibitions will be available for up to one month after to the conference, to give delegates an opportunity to continue to explore topics and network.

12 Revision of Final Paper

Authors have an opportunity to update their Paper after the conference. The final, approved paper is published in the Conference Proceedings.

13 Preparation of Conference Proceedings

This is a lengthy task, and must be completed accurately to ensure that we retain our status as an accredited Academic Publication. As this often takes place in conjunction with year-end, please be patient.

14 Publication

The full conference proceedings are published on the website, together with each individual paper with Abstract and Author information.

DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (