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Scientific community managers’ top challenges and training needs

In our series of posts about results of the State of Scientific Community Management survey we’ve looked into what types of organizations are home to scientific communities, examined their communication channels and ways of planning activities, and analyzed scientific community managers’ backgrounds, skill sets, and how their positions are funded.

In our final blog post about survey results, we return to the topic of community managers’ skill sets, focusing on their top challenges and the areas where they want more training.

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How scientific community managers shape activity planning

We’re back with more insight from the State of Scientific Community Management survey. Previous posts have explored aspects of the community management position, the nature of the organizations where communities are found, and features of the communities themselves such as their communication channels.

In this post we look at three findings about program and activity planning in communities. Read on to see how having a community manager leads to activities that are more frequent, strategically planned, and participatory.

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The new AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program is now accepting applications

"Application - glasses - pen" by Flazingo Photos, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Application – glasses – pen” by Flazingo Photos, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

We’re excited to announce that applications are open for the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program through Sunday, October 16, 2016.

Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Fellows Program is in its pilot year. The program’s mission is to improve community-building and collaboration within scientific organizations, including both professional associations and research collaborations. The program will provide training and support to a cohort of scientific community managers for a full year.

You can learn more about the purpose and timeline of the program on our About page.

How to apply

We’re seeking two types of applicants for the fellowship: current scientific community managers, and individuals looking to enter the field and be placed in an organization. See our Become a Fellow page to read about what’s expected of Fellows during the program, and for info on the eligibility and selection criteria for each of these options.

We’re also keen to hear from organizations interested in hosting a Fellow. If your organization is interested in developing or facilitating your collaboration or community, please email us at communityfellows@aaas.org to start a conversation. You can read more about expectations during the program, eligibility, and application requirements for host organizations on the Host a Fellow page as well.

For more information about the program, including interviews with existing scientific community managers, see these related posts on the Trellis Blog.

Online platforms are still making inroads in scientific communities

In previous posts about our State of Scientific Community Management survey, we’ve explored what types of scientific organizations have communities and we’ve described features of scientific community managers’ training and skill sets and their funding.

Today, we’re looking at some properties of the actual communities: their communication channels and platforms. Read on to find out about online versus offline communication channels and the adoption of online community platforms.

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Community manager journal club recap: Fostering a sense of belonging

Posted by Gabrielle Rabinowitz, Community Manager at Trellis

"Passt 2" by Willi Heidelbach, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Passt 2” by Willi Heidelbach, licensed under CC BY 2.0

We’ve recently started a monthly community management journal club at AAAS. In our first two meetings, we’ve focused on two questions at the heart of community building: “What makes a group of people a community?” and “How do these communities vary?” The readings for these meetings included an excerpt from Jono Bacon’s The Art of Community and a blog post by Lou Woodley, Considering Community: What types of community are there?

One theme that emerged from our discussions was the importance of belonging. Read on for different interpretations of this value and how to foster it in your community.

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Exploring scientific community managers’ skill sets

So far, our analysis of the State of Scientific Community Management survey has addressed scientific community managers’ education and training, the types of organizations that hire them, and the funding landscape for community management.

In this post we explore the skillsets that scientific community managers rely on in their current roles. We asked our survey respondents to rate the importance of 5 key skill sets, originally delineated by The Community Roundtable for the broader field of community management outside science. Read on to learn about which skill set ranks highest, and how the rankings change depending on seniority.

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Why we’re running monthly community manager journal clubs at AAAS – and how you can join in on the blog!

Posted by Lou Woodley, Trellis’ Community Engagement Director.

Prepping for book club
Adapted from “Prepping for book club” by Britt Reints, licensed under CC BY 2.0

It’ll come as no surprise that I spend a lot of my time thinking about community management. But in recent years that’s expanded from focusing on the strategy and mechanics of community-building, to thinking in more detail about the people that actually support group work: the community managers.

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A closer look at the funding landscape for scientific community managers

Through the State of Scientific Community Management survey we’ve collected data on all facets of the field. So far we’ve looked at scientific community managers’ education and training and identified which types of organizations are hiring them. We’ve also learned that insufficient funding is the number one reason why organizations lack community managers.

Today, we’re following up on this finding by digging a little deeper into the picture of funding for community managers. Read on for 3 key findings.

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Building interdisciplinary communities – what hurdles do we need to overcome?

Posted by Lou Woodley, Trellis’ Community Engagement Director.

Runners jumping over hurdles
Determination Wallpaper” by Alisa Cooper is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Last week I took part in a session at the ESOF16 conference on building interdisciplinary communities. ESOF – the EuroScience Open Forum – is a biennial conference focusing on various European science and science communication activities, with a mixture of different session formats.

In our session, one of the other presenters, Ismael Rafols, gave a good overview of some of the different barriers to successfully building community, which I’ve listed out below (taken directly from his slides).

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Many organizations have communities. Why don’t they all have community managers?

Posted by Dan Richman, Program Assistant for the Community Engagement Fellows Program

In our first post about results from the State of Scientific Community Management Survey, we reported that while over half of community managers in science organizations have PhDs, their community management skills are usually self-taught or garnered through reading, networking, or mentorship.

In this post we report an overview of the types of organizations that were sampled by our survey, and why some organizations don’t have community managers. This is important for the Community Engagement Fellows Program because we intend to support scientific community managers in two broad variations of the role – either within professional societies and organizations or within research collaborations. We want to understand more about what those workplaces look like and how they differ.

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