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Setting up a DRS Special Interest Group

The Design Research Society (DRS) scheme for setting up Special Interest Groups (SIGs) is a way of providing members with a forum for developing specific interests and enabling them to engage and work actively together around the world.

The guidelines that follow are intended to support the work of the groups and regulate their organisation and operation*.



  1. SIGs should be concerned with a developing area of research in design. Ideally the area of interest should have implications for a range of disciplines in design.
  2. SIGs should be international in scope – not bounded by a regional or institutional interest. The main aim is to develop collaborations between DRS members.


Organisation and Group Membership

  1. Every SIG has a convenor, an organising group, and a group membership.
  2. The SIG is led by the convenor and three members who form the organising group.
  3. There is no restriction on the number of ordinary members of any one SIG.
  4. SIG members should normally be members of DRS.
  5. SIGs have the purpose of attracting new DRS members. Therefore any SIG is expected to have a public face (e.g. public discussion list) where DRS members and non-members can interact, while SIG activities will be restricted to DRS members.
  6. Any person who is not a DRS member but wishes to make a contribution to a particular SIG may do so at the discretion of the SIG organising group for a limited period of time, after which time this person should be asked to make a decision either for formal membership or to leave the SIG.
  7. Any DRS member can join any SIG. However, it is expected that members would not normally join more than one SIG to ensure active participation.
  8. Any DRS member who wants to join a SIG can do so by writing to its convenor declaring their wish to join a particular SIG.
  9. Each SIG will nominate one member of its organising group to be a member of the DRS SIG Committee, chaired by a member of DRS Council.
  10. The SIG committee will assess proposals for new SIGs and monitor the progress and continued relevance of existing SIGs. The SIG committee will advise and mentor individual SIGs but their main responsibility will be to decide on the creation of new SIGs and closure of existing ones which are no longer meeting the Society’s aims as set out on this page.


Starting a New SIG

  1. Any member of the DRS can propose a new SIG.
  2. At least 4 DRS members are required to form the initial group - a convenor and at least 3 organisers.
  3. A formal proposal has to be made to the DRS Council using the SIG proposal form. Informal enquiries may be addressed to
  4. The proposal for a new SIG needs to include: the CVs of the convenor and organising group; a clear description of the area of interest and why it is distinctive and timely; a statement of aims in supporting and developing research in this area; and a description of the practical steps to achieve those aims.
  5. SIG proposals will be assessed by a sub-committee of the DRS Council and ratified by Council.
  6. Proposals will be assessed with regard to the aims stated above, and with regard to the subjects of existing SIGs.
  7. A proposal can be accepted; it can be invited for resubmission subject to amendments; or it can be rejected. Rejected proposals cannot be resubmitted.


Operation of SIGs

  1. A SIG should establish its own channel for communication, for example a discussion group on this website or a Jiscmail list.
  2. A SIG will usually run an annual or biennial workshop or other event
  3. A SIG will normally contribute to the DRS Biennial conference series by running a themed session or other event that enhances the quality and richness of the conference.
  4. A SIG should be self-sustaining and look to raise any income it needs through the events it runs. The general principle is to be low-cost to run and low cost to take part and to seek any basic support needed from the institutions represented in the SIG.
  5. SIGs will not receive any financial support from the DRS** but the DRS will endorse the activities of the SIG, provide resources for SIG web-pages, and promote it to members and beyond.
  6. The SIG Convenor will arrange for a separate financial account or budget to be maintained at their institution to hold any income from SIG activities, ring-fenced to ensure that the funds can only be spent on SIG activities. If this is impossible alternative arrangements can be proposed to DRS Council.
  7. Prior to the Annual General Meeting the SIG convenor will make an annual report (500 words) to DRS council giving an overview of SIGs activities, current membership, and plans for the future.
  8. The SIG Convenor will keep an accurate record of SIG membership.
  9. The DRS SIG sub-committee can recommend the closing of an existing SIG if it no longer meets the Society’s aims as set out in this document. Any such recommendation has to be ratified by the DRS Council.


*These guidelines were ratified by DRS Council in January 2008.

**The DRS Council is currently reviewing whether it can give financial support to SIGs with a view to providing a start-up grant and annual budget.