In August, we started a conversation about common challenges faced by community managers in STEM. On that community call, which also included an overview of our findings and recommendations from the CSCCE community manager case studies project, several participants noted that they often find themselves defending the importance of their work to leadership, human resources, and/or their community members. This challenge was connected to a lack of clarity around what it looks like to turn community management into a lifelong career; not only advocating for what you do today, but making a plan for where to go next.
So, this month we wanted to hold space to continue this conversation with an off-the-record community call co-moderated by members of the community of practice. This is a great opportunity not only to hear from others’ experiences, but also to help the community as a whole chart a path forward.
Join us on Zoom at 11am EDT / 3pm UTC on Wednesday, 28 September (please note that this month’s call will not be recorded, but we will share a blog post recap afterwards with key learnings and resources).
Following on from our August community call, where we introduced some of the emerging trends from our forthcoming report on community manager roles, this fall we’ll be hosting a series of follow-on conversations to get at some of the challenges we identified. Each call will address at least one of the common challenges community managers face, and hold space for community reflection and feedback.
In this blog post, you’ll find a brief summary of what to expect from each call, as well as dates and details so that you can add each call to your calendar. We’re still working out some of the details for this series, so if you see something that particularly resonates with you and you’d like to be involved as a speaker or panelist, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (note: you don’t have to be a member of our community of practice to contribute to our monthly calls).
This year we’ve been releasing community manager case studies: two-page interviews, each describing one of 25 community managers from across the STEM ecosystem. On this month’s community call, we shared some of the observations we’ve made as we’ve compared these case studies.
Next month we plan to publish a report that will describe the details of our analysis and make several recommendations for what’s needed to support the emerging community management profession, setting community managers, their communities, and their covening organizations up for success.
During the call, we also heard from two of the community managers who took part in the project, Connie Clare (Research Data Alliance) and Nathaniel Gore (PeerJ), and invited reflections and feedback from all of the participants on the call. We’re so grateful to everyone who came and shared their frank perspectives, and we plan on continuing the conversation on a future call later this year. Read on for a recap of the discussion, and watch the presentation portion of the call in the embedded video clips.
This week we released the first CSCCE Community Manager Case Study! Every Tuesday this Spring you can expect a new case study to drop; browse the collection and download your own copy of each one from our dedicated resource page.
What is a Community Manager Case Study?
These 2-page interviews ask scientific community managers a series of questions about their role, including day-to-day tasks, highlights and challenges, and how they view the importance of community building in STEM. They are very similar in structure to a series of interviews we conducted in 2016, when STEM community managers were relatively unknown, and are intended to showcase what it means to convene communities in a variety of scientific settings.
On each case study you’ll also find a unique skills wheel signature for the community manager featured, which assesses how frequently they used 45 skills in 5 core competencies over the last 12 months. You can find out more about the CSCCE Skills Wheel, created by the C3 project team of the CEFP 2017 cohort in our 2021 guidebook.
In 2016, we conducted a series of 10 interviews with community managers working in STEM. We asked them a series of questions with a view to sharing what their roles looked like and highlighting the work as an important piece of human infrastructure for effective collaboration.
More than five years later, after growing a community of practice involving more than 350 members, we’re revisiting the project. Our goal is to build a collection of case studies so that new and aspiring community managers can get an idea of what their role is or will be, and for hiring managers to understand what to look for in new hires.
We’re also curious about how community roles vary in different organizational settings. How does community management look in a professional society vs. higher education, for example? How do online communities compare to in-person ones, and how is that changing during the COVID-19 pandemic? We hope to explore these topics and more on the CSCCE blog as the project develops.
CSCCE community calls are a monthly opportunity for shared learning and connection. Members of the community of practice as well as anyone interested in the topic under discussion each month are all welcome to join, and we encourage you to spread the word among your own networks!
In this blog post, we share our plans for the first three calls of 2022. We also talk about the ways that we chose topics to highlight, the different kinds of formats we have hosted in the past, and how you can propose topics and/or present on future calls.
Our newest resource, the CSCCE Skills Wheel and guidebook, is out this week. Created by the C3 project team of the 2017 CEFP cohort, the wheel defines 45 skills used in varying degrees by scientific community managers, laying out a common language and framework for hiring, professional development, and personal fulfillment.
About the C3 project
As part of CSCCE’s Community Engagement Fellowship Program (CEFP), fellows self-organize into small groups to take on a research or resource-development project. The Catalyzing Cultural Change (C3) team, Jennifer Davison, Andreas Leidolf, Malin Sandström, Elisha Wood-Charlson, and Lou Woodley, wanted to define the skills and core competencies for scientific community engagement managers, while also understanding how these roles are positioned within different types of scientific communities or organizations.
To do this, they compared the skills listed in a range of scientific community manager job descriptions, surveyed scientific community managers within the 2017 CEFP cohort, and, along with additional literature research, created the CSCCE skills wheel.
This month’s community call is taking place in the same week as Community Manager Advancement Day (Monday, 25 January), the theme of which is “resilience.” So, this month we’ve invited CEFP 2017 alum Jennifer Davison to share her wisdom on the topic.
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