Bonjour à toutes et à tous,


Certains d’entre vous sont certainement déjà au courant, mais une des revues phares de notre communauté de recherche, Design Studies, est – disons-le clairement – attaquée de manière abrupte par l’entreprise prédatrice qui l’édite – Elsevier. Je vous invite à prendre connaissance si ce n’est pas déjà fait du courriel de Nigel Cross plus bas.


Je me permets d’ouvrir la discussion ici sur les propositions d’actions envisageables. À l’Université Laval, nous avons fait remonter l’information auprès du service de bibliothèque (client d’Elsevier), et allons alerter les collègues des autres disciplines. Il serait intéressant que celles et ceux présents dans le monde universitaire en fassent de même auprès de leurs propres services et collègues.

Que pouvons-nous envisager de faire comme communauté de recherche en design ?  

J’ouvre la question dans notre espace francophone, en espérant voir émerger des idées de réponses qui mèneront peut-être à des actions concertées. Nous pourrions par exemple envisager l’écriture commune d’un article dans The


Au plaisir (malgré le sujet bien attristant) de vous lire,



Guillaume Blum, Ph. D.
Professeur agrégé

Cotitulaire de la Chaire de recherche en économie créative et mieux-être

Groupe de recherche | design, innovations et humanismes
Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie
École de design, Université Laval


De : PhD-Design <[log in to unmask]> de la part de Nigel Cross <[log in to unmask]>
Date : samedi, 24 juin 2023 à 09:57
À : [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Objet : [PHD-DESIGN] The future of Design Studies journal

The design research community needs to know that the reputation, and even the very future of its leading interdisciplinary journal, Design Studies, is now under serious threat.
At the end of last year the journal’s publisher, Elsevier, appointed a new Executive Publisher to manage the journal – a Dr. Lily Khidr, based in New York. Since then Dr. Khidr has disrupted the functioning of the editorial team, set impossible targets for publishing a huge number of papers, and abruptly and without reason or explanation or prior notification appointed on 1st June a new Editor-in-Chief, Cara Wrigley, to replace the current Editor-in-Chief, Peter Lloyd. This has all been without the involvement of the editorial team, who have been consistently ignored and offended by Dr. Khidr. The first they knew was in an email from Dr. Khidr on 2nd June.
Design Studies was launched in 1979 as an initiative of the Design Research Society. Our first publisher was IPC Press, and the journal has passed through other publishers as take-overs and mergers took place, eventually ending up with the behemoth Elsevier. Design Studies has always been published ‘in co-operation with the Design Research Society’. But no longer – along with the editorial team, the Society has also been totally ignored. For the past 44 years, relationships between the DRS, the journal editors and the publishers have always been amicable, positive and productive. Now someone has stepped in, or been deliberately put in place with the intention to disrupt and potentially destroy the journal. Dr. Khidr wrote to Peter Lloyd in February: "the journal is not growing, financially or editorially and that is usually a recipe for closure”. This implies that overall the target is simply growth, both financial (i.e. Elsevier’s greed for profits) and editorial (i.e. number of papers published, which also equals more income and profits). Peter had previously been advised by another Elsevier manager that Design Studies already makes a net annual contribution of some $400,000 towards those profits. As well as threatening its closure, Dr. Khidr has also suggested merging the journal with others, in other fields.
The appointment of a new Editor-in-Chief was made in total secrecy, and without any prior knowledge of the editorial team. There was no call for applications for the post. The new appointee, Professor Cara Wrigley, subsequently told me that the publisher had carefully assessed her qualifications, experience and contributions to the field. However, the process of appointment has been opaque, and I find it difficult to understand what the criteria for the role of Editor-in-Chief of Design Studies might have been, given that Professor Wrigley has no history of involvement with the journal and its purview. Despite having made many submissions, Professor Wrigley has never had a paper accepted for publication in the journal, and her work has been cited just five times in the journal. Professor Wrigley is not a member of the Design Research Society. Her reasons for accepting the appointment and her goals as incoming Editor-in-Chief remain unknown. Her appointment suggests intended disruption rather than continuity in the editorial policy of the journal. In my (and others’) view, this appointment, and the background to it, does not bode well for the future of the journal.
This is not simply a matter of current editors resisting change. Peter Lloyd had already signalled his readiness to engage in plans for growing and developing the journal, and has been actively doing so.
The positions of all the current editorial team are now quite uncertain, given the way the publisher is proceeding. It seems unlikely that their appointments will be continued beyond the end of this year, even if they do not resign before then. They are of course outraged, angered and distressed at what has happened; some of the phrases they have used in emails to colleagues include:
- I am shocked at the underhand way Elsevier have gone about doing this, and worried for the future of the journal.
- I am not impressed with this process – to me it signals a significant change in how people are treated and how leadership in the journal is fostered.
- I was very disappointed with the meeting we had a while ago – I found Lily to be rude, disrespectful, and belittling.
- I echo the comments from everyone else about the unprofessional and duplicitous way these choices were carried out.
- The decision to appoint a new Editor-in-Chief, particularly considering how abruptly it was communicated to all of us, comes across as a brutal attack on Peter’s academic leadership. The attack indirectly targets the rest of the editorial team members.
Dr. Khidr’s stated goals for the journal include publishing 250 papers in 2023 – yes, in this year! In common with other leading journals of design research, Design Studies normally publishes around 35 papers a year. Dr. Khidr’s ludicrous target would mean an annual acceptance rate of 40-50% of submissions and the immediate acceptance of virtually all submissions for the rest of this year, without review. Her goal is clearly to achieve massive increase in quantity with no consideration of quality. Obviously this will destroy the journal’s reputation for publishing work of quality, relevance and importance in the field. This reputation has been built by the dedicated work over 44 years of all the journal’s editors, reviewers, and of course the authors. Without all this academic work, the publisher would not have had such a successful journal to play around with. If the publisher’s current policy is pursued as aggressively as we have seen it to be, it is unlikely that serious design researchers will continue to want to submit papers to the journal, to engage in the work of reviewing and editing, and to encourage their younger colleagues to submit papers. Inevitably this will lead to the journal’s demise as a significant resource in our field.
That would be a tragic loss for the whole of design research.
This kind of publication policy by Elsevier is not just aimed at Design Studies. They seem to be intent on killing the geese that lay the golden eggs for them. For some time, many academics have been very dubious of Elsevier’s policies. Elsevier is already subject to various academic boycotts and editor walkouts around the world. For example, see this story concerning Neuroimage, the leading journal for brain-imaging research:
The current editors and editorial board and the Design Research Society are trying to assess how they can respond to the situation. Most and perhaps all of the associate editors (who with the Editor-in-Chief handle the reviewing processes) and the editorial board (who carry out a lot of the reviewing, along with many dozens of other volunteers annually) seem likely to resign. But power over the journal lies with Elsevier’s managers – and responsibility lies with the designated incoming Editor-in-Chief.
Yours in sorrow and anger,
Nigel Cross
Editor-in-Chief of Design Studies, 1984-2017.

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