Creating core values: A new worksheet from CSCCE

In May, we published CSCCE’s core values, which were co-created with our Code of Conduct working group and participants on our May community call. In this blog post we dive a little deeper into our process, which we have made available for download in a new worksheet

Why core values? 

Successful communities have a shared purpose, but in order to convene around that purpose members need to agree on how they communicate and work together in order to ensure safer spaces and productive collaboration. By defining the core values of your community, you can get at what these collaborative norms are and set the tone for events, workshops, meetings, and other group activities. 

As part of CEFP 2019, CSCCE director Lou Woodley developed a framework for creating authentic yet aspirational core values that are tailored to a community. The participants in the fellowship cohort used the framework to explore what might be helping and hindering the realization of core values in their own communities as part of their mid-year training in leading culture change efforts. This is also the framework we followed when creating the CSCCE core values. 

Step 1: Values in action -> identifying behaviors

In order to create and articulate an authentic set of core values, we start the process by brainstorming positive behaviors that are in line with community goals. Then, we group them according to their similarities in order to figure out the values that are at their core. 

Step 2: Decide on a value word or phrase

From here, we pick a word or phrase to describe each cluster of behaviors. These words or phrases are intentional and carefully chosen. As the flagship statement of what your community stands for, it’s important to consider the power of words to inspire or exclude.

Step 3: Define the value to complete your value statement

The last step is to define  your value word or  or phrases in a couple of sentences to clearly describe what you mean. Combine the value word, the definition, and the example behaviors to get your complete value statement.

What next?

Once you and your working group have drafted your core value statement it’s a good idea to get feedback from a broader swath of your community. For example, here at the CSCCE, we shared our draft in our Slack workspace as a Google doc for anyone to comment on, and hosted a discussion in our monthly community call. We then posted our core values on our website, and added some of the example behaviors brainstormed by our working group, our community, and the participants on our community call. 

A defined set of core values is a great place to begin when considering a code of conduct or set of community participation guidelines for your community. They can also serve as a touchstone for you as a community manager when creating materials, hosting events, or communicating with your members.

Using our worksheet in your organization

Having facilitated this exercise multiple times now and in a variety of online and in-person contexts, we wanted to share what we have learned so that you can take a values-informed approach in your own organization. We offer facilitation of this exercise as one of our trainings, which you can learn more about here.


The worksheet was created by Lou Woodley and Katie Pratt, and was improved by working through it with the CEFP2019 cohort and the CSCCE Code of Conduct working group. We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Chiara Bertipaglia, who co-led a workshop with Woodley on this topic at the 2020 Science of Team Science conference.