Information Systems
College of Business Administration
University of Missouri - St. Louis

A New Year For Design Research News

Welcome to volume twelve of Design Research News. As we enter a new year for the field of design research, we have much to look back on in 2006.

Ours is an emerging field. Building it requires a rich network of social institutions. These include research literature in a growing corpus of books and journals, as well as professional conferences, research seminars, research centers, and professional associations. Together, these contribute to a broad institutional infrastructure that encourages the flow of information among our many colleagues around the world.

We live in a period of dramatic growth and visible development for the field. We had only two research journals in 1990. Today, we have over a dozen. This year has seen the launch of three promising new journals: Design Research Quarterly, a new hybrid journal-newsletter of the Design Research Society; the International Journal of Design from the Chinese Institute of Design; and Artifact from Francis and Taylor - Routledge. In addition, the Journal of Design Research has moved to a new publisher, Inderscience.

In 1990, when DRN began, we held an occasional conference from time to time. Now, we have a series of regular international conferences along with regional and national conferences. In November, IADE welcomed the Design Research Society to Lisbon for Wonderground, the third international DRS conference with a larger number of participants than any previous event.

This year 2005 saw the birth and growth of IASDR, the International Association of Societies of Design Research. In 2007, Hong Kong Polytechnic University will host the second conference of IASDR,

Where we had a handful of research books and no textbooks, we now have a growing shelf of monographs, several textbooks, and more of each under way. We also have several dozen on-line discussion groups, including PhD-Design, with over twelve hundred subscribers.

Research centers and professional associations of many kinds meet different needs, and research education is blossoming along with doctoral education.

Our field is growing. Three vital factors will support further growth.

The first is a richer flow of knowledge across the many disciplines of our interdisciplinary field. This requires a common body of knowledge, a rich shared vocabulary, and ability for scholars and professionals in design research to speak with each other from plural perspectives and backgrounds.

The second is critical mass. New fields grow slowly at first. They take on momentum and grow dramatically when they reach critical mass. Critical mass leads to a state change. Design research is moving closer to a state change, but we have not yet attained it. Part of the problem is a lack of communication. Even though we have enough people at work in our field to generate critical mass, critical mass requires connecting local hubs and networks to the larger environment.

The third necessity is a progressive research program. This requires a network of institutions that cumulatively document and share research results. From these shared results, new programs emerge, and the field as a whole makes progress. A progressive research program does not require consensus on any issue or agreement on any specific idea or platform. It requires documenting and sharing information. Until now, most design research involved specific projects. Research results are accessible only on a local level and often lost when projects are finished. To grow as a worldwide field, we require a progressive research program that allows all members of the field to share results for comparison, cooperation, new inquiry, and future contribution.

Today, we are moving toward the richer flow of knowledge and the critical mass we need. One important resource in making this possible is in use, and you can help to make it more useful still. The tool is Design Research News.

DRN began eleven years ago. Today, DRN reaches over 7,500 subscribers around the world. Every month, editor David Durling works with an international team of colleagues to gather information on conferences, projects, grant funding, publications, journal issues, lectures and seminars, calls for papers, cyber news and current books. They go out each month to DRN subscribers.

Over the past few years, DRN has more than quadrupled in circulation from around 1,500 to over 7,500 subscribers. DRN is now the largest design research publication in the world -- and one of the most successful electronic newsletters in any field.

Despite the success of DRN, circulation is below critical mass for our field. Given the number of scholars, teachers, and research students active in design research around the world, we must grow several times more to approach critical mass.

I ask for your help in growing DRN to grow our field.

Will you join us in introducing one colleague to Design Research News? Tell your colleague about this newsletter. Encourage her or him to sign up for a free subscription at the JISCMAIL DRN web site. You might also ask your doctoral candidates and research-oriented masters students to subscribe. This is important for a simple reason. To develop a progressive research program, we must grow our field past critical mass. This is a step in that direction.

Design research today is where physics was in the late 1800s. I would like to see us move up to 1905, the year that Annalen der Physik published Einstein's five great papers. For that to happen, we must grow the field. If we are to find our Einsteins, our Curies, our Poincares, we must attract outstanding researchers, build a progressive research program, and share the knowledge we generate.

Will you help? Ask one person to visit this URL and subscribe:

Thank you.
Ken Friedman
Design Research News

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