CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts Special Issue: Understanding, Capturing and Assessing Value in Collaborative Design Research


In this special issue, we seek to discuss how the value of design research programmes (Binder & Redström, 2006) can be understood, communicated, and inform work as it progresses. Funders typically evaluate research according to impact that can be readily described in economic or societal terms. Whilst this indeed demonstrates value, it does not completely capture forms of value that collaborative design research produces, because often they are less amenable to measurement or do not produce quantifiable results within or soon after the funded period.

International reviews recognise the importance of research evaluation and the challenges of measuring social and economic impact (European Commission, 2010; Go8 & ATN, 2012). For example, reviews of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) highlight the limitations of tying the evaluation of impact to research outputs (Stern, 2016), and the challenges assessors face in evaluating distributed and diffuse impacts from research activities (Watermeyer & Hedgecoe, 2016). The future of research assessment is expected to remain focused on demonstrable impact, yet there is recognition that existing evaluation methodologies are limited as research activity and its consequences move further from the academy and into communities (Hill, 2016).

This trajectory affects many disciplines, but has particular relevance to design research. Design research is apt to be collaborative, involving diverse stakeholder groups and forms of knowledge, leading to outcomes that range in nature from discrete products and services, to new experiences, processes and infrastructures. This diversity and connectedness is a core strength of the discipline, but also a challenge in articulating its value to assessors, and indeed to the discipline of design research itself. There is an acute need to consider how collaborative design research understands and captures the value it offers to the world, addressing the demand for articulating quantifiable value without losing the distinctive theoretical and practical resources design research has to offer society.

Alternatives to existing measures of economic and societal value have been proposed. Crossick & Kaszynska (2016) propose that the value of arts and culture is better understood in terms of personal affect (e.g. developing reflective, innovative and creative individuals, and engaged citizens), and suggest an opportunity for formative and participatory evaluation throughout creative work to help organisations and practitioners learn from their work.

Economic or societal impact is also often attempted through engagements between academic researchers and industrial, public sector, and community partners. Here, Upton, Vallance, & Goddard (2014) criticise evaluations focussed on outcomes (products, publications etc.) as unsuitable for encouraging such ‘knowledge exchange,’ and instead propose an evaluation of process.

These issues and debates highlight the importance of considering collaborative design research value beyond outcomes-based impact, to include personal affect and process. We invite authors to consider, illustrate and reflect upon the practical and conceptual challenges and opportunities of understanding design research value. We invited authors to respond to the following issues and questions:


Conceptions of value in collaborative design research

What forms of value are most relevant to design research?

How can value that is distributed socially, organisationally and temporally be understood?

How can understandings of value respond to co-produced and emergent forms of knowledge?


Practical problems of identifying and capturing the value of collaborative design research

How has the effect and value of design and design research been successfully (or unsuccessfully) captured in existing work?

How might emergent, diffuse, infrastructural and dynamic forms of value be meaningfully captured?

What are the ethical implications of identifying and capturing the effect of design research?


Assessing value in collaborative design research

Given constraints on the time and expertise of assessors (Watermeyer & Hedgecoe, 2016), what forms of evidence could equip evaluators with the tools needed to understand value?

How have assessment methodologies been meaningfully employed, and what new research has this enabled?

How can assessment account for new and disruptive forms of knowledge and value?

Instructions for Authors

Potential contributors should send an intention to contribute (deadline 30th June 2017) of 1000 – 1500 words that outlines the content of the paper and a concise summary of the article’s research contributions. This document should also make it clear how the authors intended submission relates to the overall scope and specific themes and issues of this special issue. The document should be sent by email to in pdf format.
The special issue editorial team will provide a short review of the intention to contribute and will notify authors whether their work is in scope of the special issue call (notifications by 31st August 2017). Submissions within scope and with a potentially strong research contribution will be invited to submit a full paper. 

Submissions of full papers (for invited authors)~:

Those authors who proceed past the intention to contribute phase will be invited to submit a full paper (maximum 7000 words including tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes) that will be subjected to the normal double-blind peer review process of the CoDesign journal. Manuscripts should be prepared according to guidelines which can be found on the journal website ( - link “Instructions for Authors”). The deadline for full paper submissions is 30th November 2017.
All full paper submissions should be made online at the CoDesign Manuscript Central site at: Authors should select submission to Special Issue “Understanding, Capturing and Assessing Value in Design Research” when uploading manuscripts.
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 Dr. Simon Bowen ( with any questions about the Special Issue.
For further Information about CoDesign go to:



March 2017: launch of the call

30th June 2017: Submissions deadline for intentions to contribute

31st August 2017: Notification of relevance sent to authors

30th of November  2017: submission of full papers
5th  March  2018: post-review notification of accept / reject / revisions to authors
1st June  2018: Deadline for submission of revised papers
1st August  2018: Final selected papers to production
February  2019: Publication of the Special Issue



Binder, T., & Redström, J. (2006). Exemplary Design Research. In Proceedings of Wonderground: 2006 Design Research Society Conference. Lisbon, Portugal. Retrieved from

Bjögvinsson, E., Ehn, P., & Hillgren, P.-A. (2012). Design Things and Design Thinking: Contemporary Participatory Design Challenges. Design Issues, 28(3), 101–116.

Crossick, G., & Kaszynska, P. (2016). Understanding the value of arts & culture - The AHRC Cultural Value Project. Swindon, UK. Retrieved from

European Commission. (2010). Assessing Europe’s University-Based Research. Retrieved from

Go8, & ATN. (2012). Excellence in Innovation for Australia: Research impacting our Nation’s Future. Retrieved from

Hill, Steven, Assessing (for) Impact: Future Assessment of the Societal Impact of Research (October 2016). Palgrave Communications, Vol. 2, 2016. Available at SSRN: or

Stern, N. (2016). Building on Success and Learning from Experience: An Independent Review of the Research Excellence Framework. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Upton, S., Vallance, P., & Goddard, J. (2014). From outcomes to process: evidence for a new approach to research impact assessment. Research Evaluation, 1–14.

Watermeyer, R., & Hedgecoe, A. (2016). Selling ‘impact’: peer reviewer projections of what is needed and what counts in REF impact case studies. A retrospective analysis. Journal of Education Policy, 31(5), 651-665.

Editorial information