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.
Scientific communities can come in a range of different configurations – from those hosted by professional associations to large-scale research collaborations. The CSCCE Community Profiles provide a snapshot of each community featured, highlighting member demographics, programming, funding and what community management looks like.
This project was conceived and led by CSCCE’s Director, Lou Woodley, with significant input from CSCCE’s Communications Director, Katie Pratt in the development of the final profiles. There have been two phases to this project to date – the first in 2019/2020 and the second in 2021. In both phases, Sara Kobilka, an independent consultant, worked with us on survey design and data collection. In phase one, the Community Profiles working group additionally gave valuable feedback on survey design and the initial profile format.
Goals of the project
The word “community” has been broadly adopted by many organizations to describe groups that range from newsletter recipients to highly active working groups. Different community configurations may reflect different goals, stages of maturity, and levels of community management support. So how can you as a community manager, senior manager or funder know what’s possible with the resources you have available? We initiated this project in order to:
Support existing scientific community managers in finding information and inspiration from other community efforts – including community managers to reach out to.
Start standardizing the way that scientific communities are described to allow easier comparison and setting of expectations – by community managers, senior managers, funders and evaluators.
Share observations and make recommendations based on what we learn from our taxonomy development and data curation.
How the project was carried out
Planning for the CSCCE Community Profiles started in 2019 and the work on the first round of 13 profiles took place in 2020. Data was gathered using a custom survey – developed with feedback from the CSCCE community profiles working group – and translated into a standardized profile template to allow comparison between the featured communities. The resulting profiles, which incorporate CSCCE’s own frameworks for describing communities and community member engagement, are available for download from the links below.
We revisited the profile format and the survey in 2021, making updates which resulted in the current three-page profile format seen in the phase two profiles below. All of the profiles in this growing collection are now listed alphabetically on this page and you can use the publication date to determine which phase the profile was created in.
We welcome feedback on these profiles and hope to expand and update the collection, based on demand. We will be releasing additional profiles in September 2021.
by Lou Woodley, Katie Pratt, Sara Kobilka, Erin McLean
September 22, 2020
This CSCCE Community Profile features the Arctic Data Center at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Data was provided by Erin McLean, Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator.
by Lou Woodley, Katie Pratt, Sara Kobilka, Rebecca Carpenter
September 22, 2020
This CSCCE Community Profile features the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Virtual Academic Community (DHHVAC) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Data was provided by Rebecca Carpenter, Community Manager.
Three of the community managers who took part in this project (Leslie Hsu, Steve Van Tuyl, and Mate Palfy) also shared the impact creating a profile for their community had on their work:
Our July 2021 community call also featured this project, with three more community managers (Kathe Todd-Brown, Lena Karvovskaya, and Jody Peters) sharing their profiles:
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