CSCCE’s Community Profiles Project: How did we do it?

In out last blog post, we announced the release of 13 new “Community Profiles,” created by CSCCE staff in collaboration with independent contractor, Sara Kobilka. In this post, which was co-authored with Sara, we delve a little deeper into our methodology. 

Survey Design

As we began the survey design process we worked to balance multiple considerations. First, we wanted something as complete as possible. Lou created the first version of the survey with the goal of collecting information about communities that scientific community managers had previously expressed interest in learning about – such as funding models, staffing, and online collaboration tools. At the same time, we didn’t want to make the survey too onerous for community managers to complete.

The original goal was to create a survey in SurveyMonkey that community managers could easily complete independently. In the process of writing the survey questions, however, it became clear that the lack of a common language across communities would make it extremely difficult to word questions and answer choices in a way that would make sense to everyone and in all settings. So, we decided that at least for this initial round, Sara would host Zoom calls to help each community manager complete the survey in real time. This allowed her to explain any confusing questions, provide additional context for their answers when there wasn’t space in the survey, and receive any additional feedback on the survey itself. 

We also created a working group within the CSCCE community of practice to advise on the project. The members of this group provided valuable feedback in refining survey questions, and gave input on wording, question order, and options for multiple choice answers.

We implemented the survey in two rounds of six communities, along with an analysis of the CSCCE CoP, making 13 profiles in total. This sequential implementation allowed us to refine the survey and address areas of confusion. 

Profile Design

With the first round of data in hand, we turned our attention to the layout of the final profiles. We worked with C&G Partners, a design firm based in New York, to create an infographic-style layout that conformed to CSCCE’s overall branding. Katie, CSCCE’s Communications Director and Content Archivist, then set about taking the survey data and customizing the profile template. And this is where we took a bit of detour…

The CSCCE Community Participation Model

A significant part of this project was to assess how scientific communities operate relative to a model created by Lou several years ago called the Community Participation Model. As you may know from following our work this summer, we recently published the model, along with a guidebook to answer a series of FAQs. In designing our profiles, we realized we also needed to create a similarly sleek model, refine our understanding of it, and making sure it was available to anyone interested in assessing the profiles. 

But back to the profiles…

With a finalized model in hand, we were able to complete the profiles. We spent a great deal of time thinking about the audiences for this project and how the profiles would be used. They are intended to highlight the role of the community manager in fostering successful communities. They also serve as a source of inspiration for what is possible for scientific communities, depending on resource availability. And, these snapshots can succinctly provide an overview of the current state of the community to management and/or funders. 

Please email if you’re interested in learning more, have any feedback for us on this project, or if you would like to see your community profiled in this way. 

Contributions and Acknowledgements

This project was made possible thanks to the contributions of the following people: 

Sara Kobilka – survey editing and refinement, data collection and related communications, data analysis and taxonomy refinement, creation of input files for profile creation

Lou Woodley – project concept and oversight, creation of initial survey question bank, working group coordination, recruitment of participants, feedback on profile design and data analysis

Katie Pratt – creation of initial profile template design, feedback on profile design and data analysis, creation of final profiles

Working group members: Leslie Hu, Marty Downs, Serah Rono, Ann Meyer, Arielle Bennett-Lovell, Erin McLean, Lena Karvovskaya, Rebecca Carpenter, and Stefanie Butland – critical feedback on survey and profile design and input on project scope.

Survey participants: Leslie Hu, Marty Downs, Serah Rono, Rebecca Carpenter, Jen Davison, Steve Van Tuyl, Mate Palfy, Claire Wyatt, Erin McClean, Megan Carter, Pajau Vangay, and Camille Santistevan