How do you measure the impact of a community champions program?

This post was co-authored by Yanina Bellini Saibene and CSCCE Staff, and can also be found on the rOpenSci blog.

How do you measure the impact of a community champions program? This was the central question of a working session at CZI’s Accelerating Open Science in Latin America workshop, convened by rOpenSci’s Community Manager Yani Bellini Saibene and attended by CSCCE’s Founder and Director, Lou Woodley. 

Measuring the impact of any kind of community program presents a series of challenges : 

  • What is the impact that you’re hoping your program will have? 
  • Is the impact you hope the program will have something that can be measured?
  • What types of instruments can be used to measure impact? (e.g., surveys, focus groups, etc.)
  • How many times can you reasonably ask your participants to give feedback?
  • How do you (or can you?) reliably follow up with participants months or even years after a program has concluded? 
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New publication highlights NMDC Ambassador Program

A new paper published today in Nature Microbiology, co-authored by CSCCE staff members Camille Santistevan and Lou Woodley, reports on the success of the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) Ambassador Program. 

The success of this pilot cohort of NMDC Ambassadors highlights the outsized impact community champions programs can have in culture change initiatives that rely on a change in community norms – in this case, the definition and adoption of metadata standards to aid the reuse of microbiome data. In this blog post, we offer a high-level overview of the project, but we encourage you to read the new paper, which is available here

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New tip sheets on planning and launching community champions programs!

Today we published four tip sheets intended to help you plan and launch a community champions program. They were co-created by CSCCE staff and members of our champions programs working group, and complement the champions guidebook that we released last year. 

Ultimately, these four tip sheets will be joined by five more, each one illustrating one of the nine stages of community champions programs described in the guidebook (and shown below). Read on to find out more about champions, champions programs, and how they maintain, grow, and evolve communities in STEM.

Image credit: CSCCE. Citation: Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement. (2021) The CSCCE Community Participation Model – Exploring the Champion mode. Woodley and Pratt doi: 10.5281/zenodo.5275270
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CSCCE partners with the National Microbiome Data Collaborative to promote metadata standards adoption

CSCCE is wrapping up a project with the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) to support their inaugural cohort of NMDC Ambassadors, who are raising awareness and adoption of metadata standards. 

The National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) is an open science platform through which scientists can deposit and find microbiome data. NMDC staff are working to support the adoption of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data and metadata practices by the researchers who use their platform. One of the ways they are doing this is through the establishment of a champions program: the NMDC Ambassadors program. 

Champions programs are ways of empowering emergent leaders within a community to take on additional roles and push forward the mission of the community. At CSCCE, we regularly work with clients on what an effective ambassadors program might look like in their context, and off support and best practices for getting a program off the ground. 

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CSCCE team trains eLife Ambassadors: Empowering community champions in STEM

The CSCCE training team took to the virtual road in mid-March to work with the current cohort of eLife Ambassadors. In two, 90-minute sessions tailored to the eLife Ambassadors program, Lou Woodley and Camille Santistevan are sharing best practices and actionable tactics for STEM community engagement. 

About the eLife Ambassadors

The eLife Ambassadors program was created to “enable early-stage researchers to build lasting support networks and to help them innovate solutions and work together to overcome the many barriers and issues that their research communities face.” [See the current call for applications for next year’s program].

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5 guiding questions to help you support community volunteers

On 3 March 2022, CSCCE Director Lou Woodley gave an invited talk for the Code for Science & Society Digital Infrastructure Incubator about best practices when engaging volunteer labor. Her 60-minute session included opportunities for participants to reflect on their own work with community volunteers, and how they might refine the support they offer to them in the future. 

With so many community managers in STEM looking to mobilize community members in a volunteer capacity, we thought we’d share an overview of Lou’s “5 guiding questions” for supporting unpaid contributions. 

Photo by ray sangga kusuma on Unsplash
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October’s community call recap – Supporting community champions and running champions programs

Our October call focused on the role of community champions in creating engaged, welcoming, and productive communities. This post includes a summary of the call, as well as video clips of presentations from Vanessa Fairhurst (Crossref Ambassadors program), Iratxe Puebla (ASAPbio Fellows program), and Ailís O’Carroll (eLife Community Ambassadors program). 

Our next call will take place on 17 November 2021 at 4pm UTC / 11am EST (note: upcoming daylight savings time changes may affect the time of this call in your region). We’ll be focusing on community governance models. iCal | Google Calendar

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October’s community call: Community champions programs

This month, we’re considering the role of community champions (also known as community ambassadors or, sometimes, fellows) in successful community management, and how community champions programs can intentionally work with emergent leaders to meet the needs of a community or organization. 

Join us for our monthly community call on Wednesday, 20 October at 3pm UTC / 11am EDT to learn more about champions and some of the programs that already exist – or are being planned –  within the STEM ecosystem. [Add to iCal or Google Calendar]

Our October call will focus on the role of community champions and how community managers can support and empower them through intentional programming. Image credit: CSCCE

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New CSCCE resource explores the role of champions in building and sustaining communities in STEM

Our latest guidebook explores the importance of supporting and encouraging the work of community champions, emergent leaders who take on additional roles within a community to ensure its success. The guidebook builds on our Community Participation Model, which describes how community members engage with community programming and the ways community managers can design activities and events that meet members where they are. It forms part two in a growing series of foundational resources, with more to come later this year.

What is a community champion? 

We define a community champion as: 

​​​​An emergent leadership role within a community in which a community member takes on more responsibility for the success, sustainability, and/or running of the community.

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First Birthday Series: CSCCE working groups and special interest groups

For our “First Birthday Series” of blog posts, we are taking some time to reflect on CSCCE’s community of practice, which turned one year old on 21 October 2020. Our first post summarized the community “by the numbers,” then we delved a little deeper into our programming offerings, and last week we discussed our resources and the importance of co-creating together. In this post, jointly authored by Communications Director, Katie Pratt and Center Director, Lou Woodley, we take a look at the scaffolding needed to support working groups and special interest groups – and review what ours have done so far.  

The rationale for working groups and special interest groups

Why might a community decide to establish working groups and/or special interest groups? In an earlier post we discussed community-level programming – activities that are general enough that they are designed to be of interest and value to all members and to create opportunities to get to know one another and identify commonalities. However, within any large enough community, there will also be differentiation into sub-groups who want to focus more deeply on a specific topic – perhaps as an area of professional development or something that supplements a project they need to deliver in their own community role. This differentiation into sub-groups also creates opportunities for emerging leaders within a community – those who are highly engaged and wish to take on more responsibility for advancing the overall mission of the community. It’s this combination of scaling, through the activities and empowerment of these emergent leaders, and dedicated group work that greatly enhances the ability of any community to make progress towards its overall mission. For these activities to be successful, community management is nonetheless needed to support emergent leaders and their groups in their activities.

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