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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CSCCE’s Community Participation Guidelines now available

This week we’re thrilled to share CSCCE’s Community Participation Guidelines with our community. These guidelines are the result of several months of careful consideration, and were co-created by members of our community of practice in a dedicated working group. 

In this post, we, the members of that working group, outline our process. Over the coming weeks, we’ll also share additional blog posts in which we reflect on some of the nuances of preparing community participation guidelines. We are doing this for two reasons: We want you to know how we ended up here, and we want our experience to assist you as you develop similar guidelines for your community. 

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to

The CSCCE core values, which informed our community participation guidelines. Image credit: CSCCE
Continue reading “CSCCE’s Community Participation Guidelines now available”

CSCCE Community Participation Guidelines

Version 1.1 – Updated July 2021 to include reporting guidelines for participants in CSCCE trainings


The Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE) serves to professionalize and institutionalize the role of the community engagement manager in science. Empowering people to work collaboratively and in a way that is safe and healthy is at the core of what we do. We require all those who participate in the CSCCE community – online and in-person – to adhere to these Community Participation Guidelines in order to help us all in creating an inclusive, supportive, and engaging environment where we can learn and grow together.

These guidelines are underpinned by the CSCCE core values, which include further examples of expected behaviours. The community participation guidelines are not intended to be an exhaustive list of parameters but rather to give a snapshot of how we strive to interact in our shared spaces. Guidelines may be updated periodically and we welcome suggestions of additional items that you would like to see represented here. Email with any comments.

Welcoming all who want to contribute

The CSCCE is an international community that continues to grow. We welcome contributions from everyone who shares our goals and wants to contribute in a healthy and constructive manner within our community. 

Every member of our community has the right to have their identity respected. We are dedicated to providing a positive experience for everyone, regardless of age, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, ethnicity, nationality, race, or religion (or lack thereof), education, career stage or socio-economic status. As our values state, we strive to notice power imbalances and to work to minimize their harmful effects.

Where and when these guidelines apply

These guidelines apply to CSCCE staff, members of our community of practice, and participants in our trainings and events – whether they are learners, participants, sponsors, speakers, trainers, or other invited guests. They apply both offline and online. Your participation is contingent upon following these guidelines in all CSCCE activities, including but not limited to:

  • Participating in CSCCE spaces including the CSCCE Slack group
  • Working with other CSCCE members virtually or co-located including community calls, coworking sessions, working groups, and special interest groups
  • Representing CSCCE on social media
  • Participating in CSCCE trainings 

While these guidelines are specifically aimed at CSCCE’s work and community, we also acknowledge that we are a community of communities. We recognize that it is possible for actions taken outside of CSCCE’s online or in-person spaces to have a deep impact on community health. This is an active topic in the diversity and inclusion realm. We anticipate wide-ranging discussions among our communities about appropriate boundaries.

Expected behaviors – and unwelcome behaviors

We expect behaviour that is in alignment with our core values, which we have outlined below. We have also given examples of unacceptable behaviors. These examples are not intended to be exhaustive.

If you witness behavior that is out of alignment with these core values, you are encouraged to submit a report about it. A report will not necessarily require punitive action to be taken on any individual and instead could be a learning opportunity so that we might collectively grow as a community. It is for the Code of Conduct (CoC) committee (see Reporting Guidelines) to be aware of and determine how to take action to support the individual affected and also to suggest corrective behavior, including in certain circumstances exclusion from the community. If you aren’t sure whether you want to file through the reporting process, please reach out to for guidance or support, or contact a member of the CoC committee:

  • Lou Woodley, CSCCE
  • Arne Bakker, CZI
  • Arielle Bennett-Lovell, The Turing Institute
  • Emily Lescak, Wikimedia
  • Katie Pratt, CSCCE

Course and workshop participants will receive a logistics sheet with information about the training, including the tools we use and expected behaviors. Typically, your first point of contact to report concerns about conduct is one or both of the instructors or a designated independent third party if that is not appropriate.

We continuously strive to be inclusive

Members of the CSCCE community recognize that we can all contribute in making our shared spaces welcoming, accessible, and inclusive, and will not discriminate against others based on their social or cultural backgrounds or identities. We will work towards minimizing the effects of power imbalances and offering diverse ways to participate as the default, rather than the exception.

This looks like:

  • Regularly asking whose perspectives we may be missing in our conversations
  • Providing different channels of communication (synchronous and asynchronous) to allow members to contribute in a way that works for them
  • Hosting accessible events, including being mindful of time zones when scheduling meetings, both virtually and in-person
  • Using pronouns correctly, and allowing people to volunteer pronouns rather than requesting
  • Being aware of cultural and linguistic differences and seeking to communicate in a culturally responsive and inclusive manner
  • Proactively seeking diverse input and feedback on projects and diverse participation in events

Unwelcome behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Using derogatory, hurtful, or harmful language related to people’s backgrounds or identities – including inappropriate jokes
  • Deliberately referring to someone by a gender that they do not identify with, and/or questioning the legitimacy of an individual’s gender identity 
  • Pushing people to drink, making derogatory comments about those who abstain from alcohol 
  • Using resources that are not accessible/inclusive in their underpinnings
  • Deliberately excluding people from channels of communication or activities
  • Influencing crowd actions that cause hostility in a shared space
  • Attempting to assert dominance in a conversation based on experience

We empower one another

We believe in a culture of fluid collaboration and participation through which we empower one another to explore and exchange knowledge, resources, and opportunities as a community. Members make space for others and take space for themselves to ensure we all benefit from diverse perspectives, experiences, and ideas.

This looks like:

  • Providing positive feedback and encouragement and advocating for others
  • Actively seeking diverse perspectives by intentionally inviting people to participate
  • Trusting that our expertise and things that we learn are valuable to others
  • Regularly asking ourselves what power imbalances might exist and taking action to address any negative impacts on others
  • Spontaneous acts of community such as welcoming new members and celebrating the successes of all members, including those we may not know well
  • Standing up for our shared values

Unwelcome behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Talking over others, dismissing others’ ideas
  • Taking knowledge and resources, but not sharing them in return
  • Not acknowledging the source of information gained from the community when used elsewhere 
  • Being unconstructively negative in discussions 
  • Not acknowledging and encouraging everyone in a discussion to participate
  • Taking up a significant part of the time talking

We learn and share

The CSCCE is a community of learning and sharing. To cultivate a space where we can learn from and grow with each other, we value diverse opinions and make room for not knowing. We recognize that we are all students and teachers at the same time and we all bring skills and resources that we can share.

This looks like:

  • Facilitating connections to enhance the learning experience by bringing people into conversations
  • Working out loud in order to make learning and expertise visible to others
  • Being prepared to switch from “expert” to “learner” in discussions rather than trying to “win”
  • Listening actively to all of what is being communicated, both explicit and implied
  • Being responsive to constructive feedback
  • Acknowledging and apologizing for mistakes made

Unwelcome behaviors include, but are not limited to:might include:

  • Only taking, not giving back
  • Not listening to understand
  • Frequent self-promotion 

We trust – and hold space for – one another 

We make an individual and shared commitment to cultivating safer community spaces founded on trust, open communication, and personal accountability. This commitment will support the safer expression of a range of emotional states including joy, vulnerability, and uncertainty, without fear of incurring harm.

This looks like:

  • Assuming good intent and asking for clarification where there is doubt
  • Asking permission before sharing personal information, and reaching out/speaking up when we see acts that could breach trust, especially if we suspect others might feel intimidated or unable to do so
  • Practicing empathy and making room for one another’s fluctuating needs and emotions
  • Doing the personal work required to speak candidly and compassionately, without tone-policing
  • Forgiving mistakes once resolutions have been agreed upon
  • Making frameworks and processes for decision-making transparent (CSCCE Staff)

Unwelcome behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal attacks including insulting, demeaning or belittling others
  • Violence and threats of violence
  • Posting or threatening to post other people’s personally identifying information (“doxxing”) online.
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or physical contact
  • Shaming someone for their statement or response
  • Not offering a sincere) apology when someone expresses that they feel hurt
  • Developing or implementing a group “agreement” without the group’s engagement
  • Withholding communication

We express gratitude and recognition

Giving thanks and acknowledgement for contributions, whether they be knowledge, experience, or other forms of support, is an important part of how we interact with each other. We strive to give credit and attribution in an ethical and representative way.

This looks like:

  • Correctly attributing the sources of any information, ideas, or materials that we share
  • Getting permission, then publicly acknowledging, an idea that came out of a private/back channel conversation, e.g., by @mentioning someone on Slack or Twitter
  • Indicating the scope of contribution, including intellectual, editorial, and methodological
  • Acknowledging where contributors are offering insight on their lived experience
  • Coming back to people who offer advice or share resources and explaining how those assets impacted our work
  • Making expressions of gratitude a regular and visible part of how we communicate

Unwelcome behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Giving/taking undue credit; not acknowledging the source of information gained from the community when used elsewhere 
  • Not showing gratitude for the help you receive
  • Silencing, dismissing, or diminishing contributions of others
  • Misrepresenting the amount of work done by members of a team (e.g., giving more credit to someone who actually did less of the work)
  • Microaggressions or condescension


We have put in place a reporting system which we will continue to review. View CSCCE’s reporting guidelines.

License and attribution

This set of guidelines is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

These guidelines have been adapted with modifications from Mozilla’s original Community Participation Guidelines, Django, and Dryad Code of Conduct. While they are licensed CC BY which allows for reuse, we strongly encourage you to determine your own core value in collaboration with your community and offer this template as a guide.


If you believe you’ve experienced or witnessed behavior that is out of alignment with the CSCCE core values or does not reflect the positive behaviors outlined in our Community Participation Guidelines, please let us know using this form. You can choose on the form whether or not to submit your report anonymously. We will review and update this reporting process as needed.

After receiving a concise description of your situation, the Code of Conduct (CoC) committee will review the report and determine next steps to take. In addition to conducting any investigation, they may provide a range of options, including a private consultation. They will involve other colleagues or outside specialists (such as legal counsel) as needed to appropriately address each situation.

The Code of Conduct committee

The CoC committee will be updated on a rotating basis.  The current composition of the committee, as of October 2020 is:

  • Lou Woodley, CSCCE
  • Arne Bakker, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
  • Arielle Bennett-Lovell, The Turing Institute
  • Emily Lescak, Wikimedia
  • Katie Pratt, CSCCE

How to Report

Reports of harassment/discrimination will be promptly and thoroughly investigated by the people responsible for the safety of the space, event, or activity. For individual events, including trainings, there will be clearly identified CoC incident responders. In all other cases, please use the reporting form as outlined above. Appropriate measures will be taken to address the situation.

Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to do so immediately. Contravening CSCCE’s Community Participation Guidelines can result in you being asked to leave an event or online space, either temporarily or for the duration of the event, and may result in you being banned from participation in spaces, or future events and activities.

Course and workshop participants will receive a logistics sheet with information about the training, including the tools we use and expected behaviors. Typically, your first point of contact to report concerns about conduct is one or both of the instructors or a designated independent third party if that is not appropriate.

All reports will be kept confidential. In some cases we may determine that a public statement will need to be made. In such cases, the identities of all involved will remain confidential unless those individuals instruct us otherwise.

If you believe anyone is in physical danger, please notify appropriate responders first. If you are unsure what types of responders are appropriate, please include this in your report and we will attempt to notify them.

In your report please include:

  • Your contact information (so we can get in touch with you if we need to follow up)
  • Names (real, nicknames, or pseudonyms) of any individuals involved. If there were other witnesses besides you, please try to include them as well
  • When and where the incident occurred: Please be as specific as possible
  • Your account of what occurred. If there is a publicly available record (e.g. a conversation on Slack) please include a link
  • Any extra context you believe existed for the incident
  • If you believe this incident is ongoing
  • Any other information you believe we should have

What happens after you file a report?

Unless you complete the reporting form anonymously, you will receive an email acknowledging receipt. We promise to acknowledge receipt within 24 hours, or on the next working day (e.g., if the report is made on a weekend or national holiday).

The CoC committee will immediately review the incident and work to determine:

  • What happened
  • Whether this event constitutes a violation of the Community Participation Guidelines
  • Who may have violated the Community Participation Guidelines
  • Whether this is an ongoing situation, or if there is a threat to anyone’s physical safety

If this is determined to be an ongoing incident or a threat to physical safety, the immediate priority will be to protect everyone involved. This means we may delay an “official” response until we believe that the situation has ended and that everyone is physically safe.

Once the CoC committee has a complete account of the events they will make a decision as to how to respond. Responses may include:

  • Taking no further action (if the report involved general rather than specific feedback).
  • A private conversation between the committee (or a representative member of the committee) and the individual(s) involved.
  • A participation hiatus (e.g., asking someone to “take a week off” from the CSCCE Slack workspace). A committee member will communicate this hiatus to the individual(s), asking them to take the break voluntarily, but if they don’t agree then it may be enforced.
  • A permanent or temporary hiatus from some or all CSCCE spaces (courses, meetings, etc.). The committee will maintain records so that they may be reviewed in the future.
  • Suggestions of resources or other actions that may support resolution, where appropriate.

We’ll aim to respond as quickly as possible and within one week to the person who filed the report with either a resolution or an explanation of why the situation is not yet resolved.

Once we’ve determined our final action, we’ll contact the original reporter to let them know what action (if any) we’ll be taking. 

Finally, the CoC committee may make a report on the situation to the CSCCE advisory board. The board may choose to make a public statement about the incident.

CSCCE staff are held accountable, in addition to these guidelines, to our fiscal sponsor, Community Initatives’ staff policies. For contractors or vendors, violation of these guidelines may affect continuation or renewal of contract.

What if your report concerns a possible violation by a CoC committee member?

If your report concerns a current member of the CoC committee, please indicate this on the form. The form is received by CSCCE staff first.

Staff members will follow the usual enforcement process with the other members of the CoC committee, but will exclude the member(s) that the report concerns from any discussion or decision making.

Conflicts of Interest

In the event of any conflict of interest a committee member must immediately notify the other members, and recuse themselves if necessary. If a report concerns a possible incident related to a current committee member, this member will be excluded from the response process.

License and attribution

These reporting guidelines are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. Please attribute any modified use of this material as “Adapted from an original by the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE) under a CC BY 4.0 license.”