July’s community call: Adding to the collection of CSCCE community profiles

Our July community call focused on one of CSCCE’s ongoing research projects: Creating scientific community profiles. We heard from Lou Woodley and Katie Pratt, who led the project, as well as three of the scientific community managers who took part in the project. In this blog post we briefly recap why we’re doing this work, what’s coming in the next few months, and share videos of the three community manager presentations. 

If you are interested in creating a profile for your community, please let us know by filling out this short form

A selection of some of our newest community profiles. Image credit: CSCCE

What is a community profile, and why are we making them? 

CSCCE’s community profiles are multi-page infographics that offer a snapshot of a year in the life of a scientific community (e.g., a research collaboration, infrastructure organization, or professional society). Our first collection, a pilot phase that allowed us to test out our survey design and graphic format, was released in September 2020 and included 13 two-page profiles. After refining our data collection and considering feedback on the first collection, we expanded the second round of profiles (14 profiles published July 2021) to three pages, adding in a new section on community champions, creating more space for a nuanced community narrative, and building a new keyword taxonomy.

Each profile shares information about a community’s goals, structure, and leadership. We use CSCCE’s Community Participation Model to take a look at programming in each community, and also highlight the successes, outputs, and goals identified by the community manager. 

We initiated this project in order to:

  • Support existing scientific community managers in finding information and inspiration from other community efforts – including community managers to reach out to.
  • Start standardizing the way that scientific communities are described to allow easier comparison and setting of expectations – by community managers, senior managers, funders and evaluators.
  • Share observations and make recommendations based on what we learn from our taxonomy development and data curation.

You can find all of the profiles, organized in alphabetical order, here, and more about the methodology behind the project here.

The International Soil Modeling Consortium (ISMC)

Kathe Todd-Brown, a computational biogeochemist and community manager, has been working with her colleague Roland Baatz to build the ISMC since 2016. The community grew out of a semi-annual conference for soil scientists, and convenes working groups to push research forward in a cohesive way between these gatherings. The COVID-19 pandemic really highlighted for ISMC the importance of nurturing a virtual community, where members could maintain their international working relationships when in-person gatherings were impossible. 

The Research Data Management (RDM) Community at VU Amsterdam

For Lena Karvovskaya, RDM Community Manager at VU Amsterdam, good community management is similar to building a happy family. The profiles project helped her realise that each community has its own unique problems, but often the solutions to the problems are to build engagement strategies that meet people where they are. While her community is small, it makes possible collaborations within the university that would otherwise not exist. 

The Ecological Forecasting Initiative (EFI)

Jody Peters, EFI’s Program Director, connects researchers from a broad range of disciplines to share lessons learned and best practices for ecological forecasting. This work spans predicting when leaves will change color in the fall, to when algal blooms will happen, to when the jellyfish population will make swimming unadvisable. Jody drew parallels between EFI’s profile and that of Kathe and Lena’s communities, and highlighted how by including some of the challenges community managers face, they make visible the more difficult facets of this work. 

What’s next for the project? 

Lou and Katie are currently working on two new guidebooks that build off this round of profiles. One will take a deeper look at community champions, the emergent leaders who take on additional responsibilities to further a community’s mission. And the other will be a manual for getting the most out of viewing the growing collection of published profiles. In the longer term, we are working on a meta-analysis that will compare all of the communities surveyed. 

In September, CSCCE will be releasing a collection of domain-specific profiles created in collaboration with the Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program. These profiles take a closer look at a variety of scientific communities focused on open hardware. 

Lastly, if making a profile for your community is something you would like to explore, you can let us know by filling out this short form