Abstract and Paper Submissions: Overview of the Peer-Review Process

The Facade Tectonics Institute (FTI) is a membership non-profit organization with a broad-based mission of promoting building skin research and education to accelerate change towards resilience and sustainability goals in buildings and urban habitat. The creation and maintenance of a neutral platform for knowledge-sharing is a core mission strategy. Our biennial World Congress dominates this platform with the presentation of peer reviewed original papers, as described in the following sections. The peer review process assures the quality of the papers and that they are free of promotional content. The purpose of the peer review is not intended to be exclusionary. On the contrary, we are attempting to build a diverse and inclusive culture of scholarship in the building industry that bridges all industry silos and brings all the different voices together in a common dialogue.

The FTI’s World Congress (WC) is organized every two years and brings together hundreds of participants to share and learn about the latest research, developments and applications in building skin design, engineering, fabrication, construction and operation. The presentations of papers that are included in the WC program undergo a two-step blind peer-review process, supporting FTI’s mission of research, knowledge-sharing, providing top quality education and serving as a platform for communication between industry stakeholders.

The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of the peer-review process, and to demystify the selection criteria that we use to objectively evaluate submitted abstracts and papers while developing the WC program.

The two-step submission process entails:

  1. Submission of abstracts, which are initially peer-reviewed for suitability (i.e. is the intended paper and presentation suitable for the WC in terms of the thematic focus), followed by
  2. Submission of full papers, which are evaluated by a peer review committee. The submitted papers undergo a double-blind review process, which means that both the reviewer and author identities are concealed to maintain anonymity. Each submitted paper is reviewed by at least two reviewers.

1. Abstract Submission and Peer Review Process

Authors use the FTI membership portal to submit their abstracts. The submitted abstracts must include a title (up to 9 words), a 200 to 300-word description of the intended paper, and 5 to 9 keywords. The description should be written to succinctly reflect the topic, thematic focus, novelty, research questions, methods, and, especially, results (suspense is not a goal; your abstract should clearly summarize your findings). The keywords can be selected from a list of pre-populated words that best describe the presented work.

The WC welcomes original research, technical guidelines, case studies and practice-relevant research and lessons learned from practice—the spectrum covers a wide array of topics and methods relating to building skin design, engineering, manufacturing, fabrication, construction and building operation. Therefore, we welcome submissions from multidisciplinary perspectives, written by researchers and professionals whose work focuses on building enclosures, just as long as the abstracts do not include any marketing or promotional material.

The primary evaluation criteria for accepting abstracts are:

  • Is the topic relevant to the WC?
  • Is the abstract clearly written?
  • Does the abstract present a specific, identifiable contribution to our knowledge?
  • Does the material in the abstract appear to be free of promotional interests? (This is the primary reason for rejecting abstracts.)

The above listed criteria are used to determine whether the abstracts will be accepted or rejected. Typically, the abstracts are accepted if the presented topic is relevant to the WC (i.e. it focuses on building skin), the contributions to our knowledge are clear, and there is no promotional intent evident in the abstract. Abstracts are typically rejected if they are not relevant to the WC or if contributions are not clear. Once the decision is made, this is recorded and shared with the authors. If an abstract is accepted, authors are invited to submit full papers.

2. Paper Submission and Peer Review Process

Full papers are also submitted through the FTI membership portal. Authors use the functionalities embedded in the portal to update their accepted abstract submissions with full papers. Authors are encouraged to review papers published at previous Congresses for reference (available on the FTI website under Resources).

Research papers should be organized into these following suggested sections:

  • Introduction and Background: authors should introduce the topic of the paper, discuss its significance, and review relevant literature relating to the topic
  • Research Questions and Methods: authors should clearly state the research questions and explain methods that were used in the research study
  • Results and Discussion: authors should discuss results, present data, and provide critical analysis of the data (the results section can be supported by figures, diagrams and tables)
  • Conclusions: authors should provide concluding remarks, based on the presented data and results (authors can also discuss future work, if the study pertains to ongoing research).
  • References: authors should list all the sources for the relevant literature, using the Chicago Manual of Style referencing format.

Case studies can be organized as follows:

  • Introduction and Background: authors should introduce the case study, explain why it is relevant, and review context and pertinent literature relating to the case study
  • Questions and Methods: authors should explain what questions are addressed in the paper (i.e. what is novel about the case study), and discuss design, engineering or construction methods
  • Discussion: authors should provide a critical analysis of the case study
  • Conclusions: authors should provide concluding remarks
  • References: authors should list all the sources for the relevant literature, using the Chicago Manual of Style referencing format.

Once submitted, the papers are reviewed by at least two peer reviewers. As previously mentioned, author’s names and affiliations are hidden from reviewers (and vice versa) to ensure a double-blind peer review process. The keywords that are provided as part of the abstract submission are used to match the paper with peer reviewers that specialize in the specific area that the paper is addressing.

Peer reviewers evaluate the contents of the paper using a numeric scale, may write detailed comments to the authors, and recommend whether the paper should be accepted as is, accepted with suggested revisions, or declined. The primary criteria for evaluating full papers consider these following aspects:

  • Quality of communication and writing style
  • Clarity of research objectives and methods
  • Structure and organization of the paper
  • Discussion of data, analysis methods and conclusions
  • Quality of conclusions

Peer reviewers use a numeric scale to evaluate full papers:

  • 5: Excellent paper (candidate for outstanding submission)
  • 4: Very good paper (clearly accept)
  • 3: Solid paper (contents, presentation and writing meet professional norms; improvements may be advisable but acceptable as is)
  • 2: Acceptable (content has merit, but accuracy, clarity, completeness, and/or writing style should be improved based on comments provided to the authors)
  • 1: Barely acceptable (content has merit, but revisions are necessary).

The decisions are recorded in the submission portal, reviewed by the editorial committee, who then make the final decision about the paper’s acceptance. The results of the peer review process are then shared with the authors to help them improve their paper.

If a paper is accepted to be presented at the WC, authors must consider reviewers’ comments and evaluation when revising their submission. Final papers should reflect changes and improvements based on reviewers’ comments and feedback. The papers are published as part of the conference proceedings.

The peer review process, outlined in this document, ensures that the presentations and papers that are included in the WC program are relevant, objective and high-quality. This supports FTI’s mission to share knowledge relating to the facade systems, to support research and education, and to initiate dialogue among all stakeholders involved in the design, engineering, fabrication, construction, ownership and operation of buildings and their facade systems.

FTI is currently accepting abstracts submissions for the 2022 World Congress. Please review the Call for Abstracts Announcement in its entirety prior to submitting an abstract.