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Society Constitution

1. Mission statement

The International Society for First World War Studies was founded by Jenny Macleod and Pierre Purseigle in the run-up to the first European Conference in First World War Studies, held at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Lyons (France), on the 7th and 8th of September, 2001.

This conference gathered together an international group of postgraduate and postdoctoral scholars dedicated to the study of the First World War. The conference aimed to create the conditions of an academic debate that would cut across national and disciplinary boundaries. It also intended to give young researchers the opportunity to present and discuss their work, in a collegial fashion, with more senior scholars in the field.

Building on the enthusiastic response to this event, the Society has since become an international network of scholars that spans generations and continents alike to support the historical study of the First World War.

The Society organizes or sponsors conferences, seminars, workshops, reading groups and publications to promote the study of the First World War, to foster international collaboration, to encourage the comparative history of the war, and to facilitate exchanges across disciplines and generations of scholars. It also maintains a website dedicated to these goals.

The Society and its members are especially committed to the establishment and development of a professional yet collegial academic forum, open to any scholar, irrespective of his or her degree of academic seniority or disciplinary affiliation. However, encouraging work by scholars who are relatively new to the field remains an overriding objective. Hence every initiative or event organized or sponsored by the Society must give pride of place to postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early-career researchers. In this way, the Society strives to encourage and promote any innovative study of the First World War.

The Society acknowledges the contribution of other groups and institutions to the study of the First World War. In keeping with the objectives herewith stated, it will therefore establish collaborations and partnerships with other learned or academic societies, research centres, universities, libraries and museums.

The Society recognises, in particular, the necessity for academic historians to engage with other historians of the war and with the wider audience interested in the subject. While committed to the preservation of its intellectual autonomy, the Society is therefore committed, through the individual and collective works of its members, to enhancing the public understanding of the First World War.

2. Membership of the society

2.1 Membership of the society is open to anyone who pays a subscription.

2.2 Membership is administered per calendar year. All memberships should be renewed by the end of December, ready for the following year.

2.3 Postgraduates and the unwaged will pay a lower subscription rate for membership of the society. This should be set an affordable rate.

2.4 The overall subscription fee comprises a membership fee plus the cost of the journal.

2.4 Members receive access to the email discussion list and a copy of each issue of the society’s journal and/or online access to it through our publisher’s website.

3. Fellows of the society

3.1 The society recognises the contribution of volunteers to its activities by acknowledging them as ‘Fellows’ of the society.

3.2 Fellowship is earned by making a significant and sustained contribution to the society, such as running a conference, or participating in the online team.

3.3 Any member may propose herself or himself for consideration, or may be proposed by another member (with the permission of the nominee).

3.4 Members are elected to the Fellowship after a vote by the Board of Directors. Successful Fellows should have the support of 50% of the Board.

3.5 If a proposal for a fellowship is rejected, they have the right to receive guidance from the Board on what further activities in the service of the society might be required in order to successfully apply in the future.
3.6 There will be a member of the Board of Directors designated as the Fellowship Secretary who will administer this process.

4. Executive Committee of the Society

4.1 The leadership of the society is in the hands of a small number of volunteers, who will work to further the society’s mission statement, in collaboration with other members of the Board of Directors. They will consult and inform the Board of Directors about important decisions.

4.1.1 Important decisions that require consultation with the Board of Directors include, but are not limited to, the location, timing and theme of the society’s conference; changes of key personnel including the web team, and any financial commitment above £500.

4.2 The named roles in the Executive Committee are as follows:

  • President
  • Treasurer
  • Membership Secretary
  • Website Director

4.3 The responsibilities of the Executive Committee are as follows:


  • to lead the development of the society
  • to identify the conference teams for forthcoming society conferences
  • to represent the Society externally
  • to chair the meeting of the AGM
  • to organise the election of the next group of officer-holders
  • signatory to bank account


As Vice-President, to deputise for the President as necessary

  • custodian of the society’s finances
  • to receive and deposit membership subscriptions
  • to arrange transfer of funds to support society activities
  • to present a summary of the society’s finances at AGM
  • signatory to bank account

Membership Secretary

  • Owner of the society’s email discussion list
  • Keeper of membership records
  • Liaison with publisher re membership matters
  • Liaison with members re contact details & subscription matters
  • To take minutes of the AGM

Web Director

  • To lead the society’s online presence
  • To recruit members of the online team
  • To ensure web hosting provision

4.4 The appointment of office holders

4.4.1 Office holders must be Fellows of the society

4.4.2 Office holders will hold their position for two years. Their position is renewable, if they choose to stand for election once more.

4.4.3 Office holders will be nominated by two members of the society and will be elected by the members of the society. One member, one vote, by means of an electronic poll.

4.4.4 Nominations will be open for a period of one calendar month. The voting period will be 7 days. Candidates for office should circulate a short manifesto (200 words max.) through the Society’s discussion list, along with the names of their seconders, by the end of the day (ie Candidates for office should circulate a short manifesto (200 words max.) through the Society’s discussion list, along with the names of their seconders, by the end of the day (ie midnight Greenwich Mean Time) preceding the opening of the ballot.

4.4.5 If an Office holder resigns, a by-election will be held according to the rules of ordinary elections. The winner of a by-election will hold their office for the remainder of the ordinary two-year period of office.

5. Board of Directors

5.1 The purpose of the Board of Directors is to provide strategic guidance for the society.

5.2 Membership of the Board of Directors is drawn from the Fellowship, and is by invitation from the existing Directors and/or the President and Vice-President.

5.3 The Board of Directors should draw its members from two or more countries.

5.4 The Board of Directors should aim to represent the diverse career stages of the society, and should therefore include at least one member who is within five years of registering for his/her PhD.

5.5 The Board of Directors will automatically include the following office holders:

  • President
  • Treasurer
  • Membership Secretary
  • Online Director
  • Editor-in-Chief of the society’s journal (ex-officio)

5.6 Directors will serve renewable terms of 3 years. These terms will be staggered to allow for continuity.

5.7 Ordinarily, there should be no more than 12 members of the Board.

6. Conference organisation

6.1 The society’s conferences will be held at least once every two years.

6.2 The team organising the conference are an autonomous group who should organise the conference as they see fit, but in a manner that is mindful of the society’s traditions of friendly, scholarly discussion.

6.3 The conference team are responsible for the financing of the conference, and should use the facilities of their host institution to manage these finances.

6.4 The conference team may use the good name of the society in seeking to raise funds for the purpose of holding the conference.

6.5 The conference team should submit a summary of their accounts to the society’s AGM.

6.6 All conference delegates should be members of the society. This stipulation may be waived for keynote speakers at the conference.

7. The society’s journal

7.1 Mission statement:

First World War Studies is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal that seeks to publish articles that explore comparative, trans-national, and multi-disciplinary strengths evident in the International Society for First World War Studies and pursue as its guiding principles the same intellectual assets. As the Society draws its strengths from graduate students to more experienced scholars, the journal is equally committed to a collegial academic forum open to any scholar irrespective of degree, academic seniority, or disciplinary affiliation. The journal approaches the subject of the First World War without chronological, geographic, or topical constraints. It embraces not merely the period associated with the years between 1914 and 1918, but seeks to include the diplomatic, political, social, cultural, and military complexities evident before, during, and most certainly after the cessation of hostilities. The journal will contribute significantly to the ongoing debates concerning the origins and causes, conduct, and implications of the First World War. First World War Studies is the only scholarly journal devoted to this extraordinary and controversial conflict and maintains an Editorial Board that consists of many internationally recognized scholars.

7.2 The President and Treasurer should be the signatories to the contract with the publisher of the journal. Renewal and changes in contractual arrangements with the journal’s publisher should be approved by the Board of Directors.

7.3 The Board of Directors of the society shall appoint the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

7.4 The Board of Directors will review the Editor’s position each year in a collegial and supportive manner, such that an opportunity may be afforded for the Editor to step down by mutual agreement.

7.5 The Editor-in-Chief will recruit a team of Associate Editors to help him/her in the task of producing a peer-reviewed journal. He/she will do this in consultation with the other Associate Editors.

7.6 All editorial roles are for a 3-year term which may be renewed.

7.7 The Editor-in-Chief must inform the Board of Directors of any change in editorial personnel and of any change of the publisher’s management procedures as well as of any change in the national or international science policy landscape, which may affect the journal’s editorial independence, procedures, and standards, its financial stability, or may impact on the Society’s standing and reputation.

8. Resolution of disputes relating to the journal

8.1 We aim to treat all colleagues involved in the production of the journal: editors, board members, authors, publishers in a professional manner befitting of a society which prides itself on its collegiality. We aim to resolve disputes to the best of our abilities in an amicable and timely manner.

8.2 We expect that everyone we deal with will act fairly, that they will not plagiarise, nor will they infringe copyright. Should plagiarism or copyright infringement come to light, where appropriate apologies, acknowledgements, corrections and if necessary, the deletion of the entire article from the electronic record will be enacted.

8.3 We use the American Historical Association’s definition of plagiarism: ‘The AHA’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct defines plagiarism as the appropriation of “the exact wording of another author without attribution,” and the borrowing of “distinctive and significant research findings or interpretations” without proper citation. Most cases of plagiarism represent a failure to properly paraphrase, quote, and cite sources.’ (

9. Standard Operating Procedures of the society (in addition to the above)

9.1 The society will hold an AGM / business meeting at each of its conferences.

9.2 The AGM will receive the following reports as appropriate:

  • President’s report on the society’s activities
  • Treasurer’s financial report
  • Editor-in-Chief’s report on journal business

9.3 The AGM will be open to all members and will consider any items of interests to the membership. The agenda of the AGM should be finalized and circulated to the membership at least a week before the meeting. In recognition of the geographic dispersal of its membership, the reports will be circulated via email to the membership subsequent to the meeting.

9.3.1 Any emailed responses to the pre-circulated agenda will be read out at the AGM.

9.3.2 Documentation arising from the AGM should be stored in a private area of the website once that has been made technically possible. Until that time, any member may request a copy from the Executive Committee.

9.4 In years where no society conference takes place, the appropriate annual reports should be submitted to the Board of Directors and then circulated by email to the membership.

9.5 If it should arise that a member of the Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Editorial Board, or Editors of the journal has brought the society or its journal into disrepute, or working relations with that colleague have irretrievably broken down, then they may be asked to step down from their role by the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors may only take this step after reasonable discussions and a majority vote have taken place.

9.6 The constitution of the Society may be amended on proposition of the Board of Directors or one third of the total membership. Amendments must be approved by the membership by means of an electronic poll. Amendments must be circulated to the membership at least one calendar month before the vote opens. The voting period will be 7 days.

9.7 If it should come to the pass that the society needs to be dissolved, the membership will be advised by the President of an Extraordinary General Meeting where the merits of the proposed dissolution will be discussed.

9.7.1 Dissolution must command the support of a majority of the Executive Committee and of the Board of Directors.

9.7.2 Any remaining funds belonging to the society should be donated to an agreed good cause.