Call: ‘Quality of Collaboration in Design’ special issue of CoDesign

CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts Special issue on Quality of collaboration in design

The focus of this special issue is on quality of collaboration across a variety of design situations, with a special interest on the detailed analysis of interactive dynamics in small groups or teams.

Submission of intentions to contribute: May 16, 2011 (a more detailed time schedule is below)


Francoise Detienne, CNRS – Telecom ParisTech,

Michael Baker, CNRS – Telecom ParisTech,

Jean-Marie Burkhardt, University Paris Descartes,


This special issue aims to bring together research on theories, models and analysis techniques that enable us to understand the quality of collaborative activity in design interactions. The term ‘quality’ can be understood from different points of view: in descriptive terms (identifying and discriminating the intrinsic properties of collaboration), in a normative sense (identifying what makes ‘good’ or less good collaboration, considered /sui generis /as well as in relation to its outcomes), or a combination of both. Different perspectives on the collaborative process and experience need to be considered and compared, from first-person perspectives (of collaboration participants, of their institutions, companies) to third-party analyses of the complex processes of collaborative design activity. This requires deep understanding of (inter-)personal experience, of socio-institutional constraints and stakes, and theoretically motivated, empirically validated models of the processes of collaboration, articulated with assessment of the degree of achievement of collaboration goals in specific design situations.

Although there is no consensus on a definition of collaboration, most researchers would agree that it involves sharing of goals, resources and representations relating to the joint activity. On a social level, other important aspects relate to mutual respect, trust, responsibilities and accountability, within situational rules and norms. Moreover, the very notion of collaboration seems to presuppose a certain degree of equality between participants in terms of right to contribute (notwithstanding a more or less hierarchical situation), in the context of a socio-institutional mode of organisation that favours co-elaboration of ideas, knowledge objects or tangible artefacts.

This special issue builds on a previous initiative of the guest editors, who organised a workshop at COOP 2010 ( on “quality of collaboration in task-oriented computer-mediated interactions” (Workshop Proceedings: (The present call for papers is not at all limited to those workshop participants). Although the topic of quality of collaboration was viewed in a broader perspective than strictly design activity, this scientific event has allowed the assessment of the maturity of the topic in various (inter)disciplinary approaches, and has helped to articulate relevant aspects of collaboration, including: degree of grounding, effectiveness of coordination, mutual regulation of affect, symmetry of participation or roles, degree of involvement and motivation, degree of reflexivity, task information pooling, constructive conflict resolution and consensus building, and productive and creative potentialities of dialogue, viewed from the perspectives of researchers and/or the collaborators themselves. Moreover, the importance of the context (e.g. highlighting contextual meaning or functions of interactions), the social structure in which quality of collaboration is examined (e.g. power, collaboration cultures) as well as the various temporal scales along which it can be analysed, have been highlighted (as reported by discussion groups and documented in the workshop proceedings referred to above). This situated nature of collaboration can extend more classical views on design as a social process (Bucciarelli) and as reflection in action (Schoen). It is necessary to go beyond a vision of collaboration and its quality in design situations, that gives primacy to dialogue and discourse, to address the roles of evolving tangible and semiotic design /artefacts/, as mediators and emerging outcomes of collective activity.

This special issue aims to highlight recent research on the quality of collaboration in design situations, with a strong focus on modelling and evaluating the quality of collaboration, and the detailed analysis of interactive dynamics in design teams. The call is open to a broad range of disciplinary approaches and research domains, such as anthropology, cognitive ergonomics, conversation/interaction analysis, CSCL, CSCW, design, ethnomethodology, linguistics, psychology, social psychology, sociology (non-exhaustive list, in alphabetical order). In order to address the complex phenomena that are the topic of this special issue, a broad range of theoretical frameworks will also be welcome and necessary, from activity theory, social constructivism, situated action, situated cognition, distributed cognition, to cognitive ergonomics.

Specific topics to be dealt with may include:

  • Models and dimensions of collaboration highlighting specific characteristics related to its quality;
  • Descriptive, normative, experiential approaches to quality of collaboration;
  • Crossing the analyst’s perspective with participants’ perspectives on quality of collaboration, analysis and methods of reflectivity on the nature and quality of collaboration;
  • Analysing the interplay between the quality of collaborative processes, task process and outcomes;
  • Quantitative and qualitative methods (e.g. coding, scoring, conversation analysis) for analysing and/or evaluating collaboration, collaborative effort and collaboration quality;
  • Analysing the quality of collaboration along different temporal scales and with longitudinal perspectives;
  • Analysing possible relationships between quality of collaboration and its outcomes (quality and originality of solution, adequacy with respect to design constraints, creativity and innovation of products, design learning…);
  • Analysing the elaboration of design artefacts in relation to collaboration and its quality;
  • Multimodal dimensions of collaborative design;
  • Analysing effects of tools (design methods, group methods, resources and communication tools or platforms, intermediary objects) that support and mediate collective action on quality of collaboration.

It is essential that papers deal explicitly, and in depth, with theories, models and methods of collaboration, as well as design theoretical approaches, methods for analysing or evaluating quality of collaboration, and analysis of the design process/product. Papers can refer to experimental or field studies. Target situations may cover various design domains (e.g. architectural, engineering), various types of design groups (e.g. teams, communities) and technologies in a broad range of social and institutional situations, characterised by joint elaboration processes, at work, and/or in educational or training situations. Papers may also discuss the possible roles and influences of technology mediation (in collocated or distant situations) on quality of collaboration in design.

The guest editors of this special issue of the CoDesign journal encourage and request high quality papers describing mature research on this theme. The time schedule is below.

  • Submission of intentions to contribute: May 16, 2011
  • Notification of relevance: June 16, 2011
  • Deadline for submission of full papers: October 17, 2011
  • Post-review notification of decisions: January 19, 2012
  • Deadline for submission of revised papers: March 19, 2012
  • Final selected papers to production: May 25, 2012
  • Publication of special issue: August 2012


Submission of intentions to contribute

In the first instance, potential contributors are invited to send an intention to contribute, in the form of a document of 2000 – 2500 words that outlines the content of the paper. The document should be sent by email to both Francoise Detienne ( and Michael Baker (, in pdf format.

Submissions of full papers (for pre-selected authors only)

Following an initial evaluation of the potential of submitted proposals, full papers may be requested, that will be subjected to the normal review procedure of the CoDesign journal. Manuscripts should be prepared according to guidelines which can be found on the journal website ( – link “Instructions for Authors”). All submissions should be made online at the CoDesign Manuscript Central site at:

New users will need to create an account. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the same website. All published articles will undergo rigorous peer review, based on initial guest editors screening and anonymous refereeing by independent expert referees. Potential authors should contact Prof. Francoise Detienne ( or Prof. Michael Baker ( with any questions about the Special Issue.

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