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.
These profiles are part of a research project we began last year, to provide a resource to describe and discuss STEM communities – and inspire community managers, senior managers and funders alike about the possibilities of community-based projects. In addition to 13 profiles created in 2020, we are conducting a meta-analysis to investigate trends observed across the dataset, as well as building out additional resources to complement the collection.
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.
On this month’s community call we unveiled the first round of our community profiles, with Lou and independent contractor Sara Kobilka presenting the goals and methodology of our research. We also heard from three members of our community who took part in the study, and how their profiles helped them think about their communities, and their engagement strategies, in new ways.
In out last blog post, we announced the release of 13 new “Community Profiles,” created by CSCCE staff in collaboration with independent contractor, Sara Kobilka. In this post, which was co-authored with Sara, we delve a little deeper into our methodology.
As we began the survey design process we worked to balance multiple considerations. First, we wanted something as complete as possible. Lou created the first version of the survey with the goal of collecting information about communities that scientific community managers had previously expressed interest in learning about – such as funding models, staffing, and online collaboration tools. At the same time, we didn’t want to make the survey too onerous for community managers to complete.
Today we’re launching the first outputs from a project that we’ve been working on this year to better characterize communities in science – and to support scientific community managers, their leadership, and funders to meaningfully compare some of the current activities taking place across the broad landscape of STEM community projects.
The CSCCE community profiles project has resulted in the creation of an initial collection of 13 community profiles – two page PDFs capturing core features of each community from staffing to programming and funding sources. We collected the data using a custom, detailed survey and then translated what we found to a standardized profile template, which was specifically created for this project. The resulting profiles, which incorporate CSCCE’s own frameworks for describing communities and community member engagement, allow easy comparison between different scientific communities.
In this post we introduce the rationale for the project and highlight the first 13 profiles. In Thursday’s post, we outline how the project was carried out.
September’s community call will take place on Wednesday, 23 September at 6pm UTC (2pm US Eastern Time) and will center around the release of CSCCE’s Community Profiles. After an overview of the project, we’ll also hear from some of the community managers who participated in this pilot research study.
Our next CSCCE Community Call is on Wednesday 19th February at 2pm Eastern. Join us to discuss how we’re going to be creating Community Profiles to help connect scientific community managers with others doing similar things – and how to make the profiles useful to you!
Introducing the Community Profiles project
Some of the questions that we get asked most often about scientific community management go along the lines of “I’m looking to launch a new community focused on X. Can you tell me about another organization that’s already done this?” or “We’re looking to expand our community programming to include Y. Are there any best practices about how to do this – or things we should absolutely avoid?”
To help our community members to answer these questions more directly themselves, we’re looking to create a series of downloadable Community Profiles. At this concept stage (read: plans may evolve as we test and iterate!) we envisage that the profiles will be very visual, two-page summary sheets with some vital stats about specific communities that have agreed to be featured. As a user, you’ll be able to compare communities with similar audiences, online tools, programming and more – and possibly also reach out to their community manager to ask any follow up questions.
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