As part of the latest cycle of grants under the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI)’s Essential Open Source Software for Science program, CSCCE will be working with the software nonprofit Bioconductor as they develop a new training program and community platform for their users.
Bioconductor is built on the R programming language, and is an open source platform for the statistical analysis of genomic datasets.
This month we spent our community call brainstorming ideas for CSCCE programming that meets the needs of scientific community managers who are facilitating online meetings, events, and conferences. We used Padlet boards to collect ideas, and these boards will remain open for a couple more weeks for any community members who were unable to join the call (read on for more information).
We’re delighted to announce that CSCCE has received a $125k grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to continue our work supporting the transition to online collaboration that’s been accelerated due to the global pandemic.
In this post, we outline what we plan to deliver thanks to this grant – and we indicate the emerging opportunities to participate or collaborate with CSCCE that will result.
Supporting a rapid shift in norms
The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has forced a sudden transition to online meetings and online work spaces for which many scientific organizations and communities were painfully under-prepared. Although discussions were underway in many organizations to improve access to conferences and events by offering virtual options, few had begun to implement them at scale. As a result, many organizations are now frantically trying to adapt, while lacking the in-house expertise, access to reliable information, and peer support necessary for staff to succeed.
This Fall we launched the first in a new series of CSCCE online training modules. In this blog post, we explain the courses and when they’ll be offered again, who we hope will take them, and how they impact our other programming, including a potential CEFP2021 cohort. If you have any questions about anything in this post, please reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are CSCCE online modular trainings?
Our online modular trainings distill years of experience and expertise in building successful communities in STEM into courses that fit into your busy schedule. Each training runs for six weeks, and involves two live sessions a week (totaling 2.5 hours) along with around 90 minutes of homework to complete each week.
The recent shift to remote work, virtual meetings and events, and convening and connecting communities predominantly online has impacted how we all work, and in many cases required us to acquire new skills. Here at CSCCE, we’ve created programming and resources to support you throughout that shift, and now we invite you to shape what comes next.
In this month’s community call, we’d like to explore with you the next stage of our programming around the transition online – with the intention to discuss, develop and deliver resources together into 2021. Join us on Wednesday, 18 November at 7pm UTC / 2pm US EST to join the conversation, inform the resources we’ll develop, and shape the activities we’ll host over the next few months.
Many communities rely on online platforms and communication tools to stay connected and to host events. On this page we have highlighted several blog posts about building and sustaining communities online. We have also produced a guidebook, accompanying appendix, and other resources for how to get started building an engaging and inclusive community on Slack.
This appendix contains several resources to accompany our guidebook. It includes a Slack intentions worksheet, information about the "Invite bot," an example of a new member survey, an example of a weekly newsletter, and a pre-launch checklist.
Our virtual tools trials bring together interested members of our community of practice to try out platforms that might be useful for convening communities online. Our tools trials are ongoing, so if you have a platform you’re interested in trying, or would like to co-host a trial and share your experience, please let us know by emailing email@example.com.
After each trial, we share a recap of our findings on our blog, each of which includes a link back to the full collaborative notes document from the trial. Find out more about:
CSCCE is primarily concerned with community management roles within scientific teams, groups, and communities – the human infrastructure for collaboration. Our research work focuses on better characterizing these human infrastructure roles and their impact in a range of scientific contexts and organizations.
We do this work in three primary ways:
CSCCE-led – where we spend some of our staff time on advancing knowledge in a priority area, sometimes working with members of our community of practice individually or in a related working group. E.g., our CSCCE Community Profiles and STEM Community Manager Case studies projects
Grant-funded research – as either the grantee or a contractor on specific projects. E.g., An NSF EAGER grant to research the impact of community managers
Consultancy – in partnership with clients, often as part of a larger piece of work we are delivering for them. E.g., working to characterize different types of value created via the NMDC Ambassadors Program.
The intention of our research is to provide practically applicable knowledge that can assist community managers, their organizations, funders, evaluators, and others interested in community management in STEM.
If you would like to discuss our ongoing research, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ongoing research projects
CSCCE Community Profiles
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.
We have made 33 profiles since starting the project in 2020, and each year the collection grows. We are planning a meta-analysis of the profiles to highlight commonalities and differences between scientific communities.
If you are a community manager and would like to see your community profiled, please let us know by filling in this form. If you are interested in collaboration with us on a special collection of profiles, such as this one on open hardware created with the Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program, please email email@example.com to set up an informational meeting.
STEM community managers support a range of different communities – from research collaborations to infrastructure organizations and communities of practice hosted by scientific associations. The CSCCE community manager case studies provide two-page snapshots of how individual community managers came to their roles, what activities they support, and what they most enjoy about their work.
By creating these case studies, we hope to demonstrate what it means to work as a community manager in STEM, elevate the importance of these roles in supporting inclusive and collaborative scientific practice, and highlight the variety of settings in which community engagement is key.
A study of online scientific and scholarly communities for broadening participation in STEM (NSF EAGER)
In collaboration with Dr Lisa Elliot at Rochester Institute of Technology, CSCCE’s director Lou Woodley is working to consider the role of community managers in online communities for broadening participation in STEM. The goals of the project are:
to apply the information systems theory of the life cycle of online communities and the theory of social capital to understand the dynamics of two NSF-sponsored OSSCs that are focused on broadening participation in STEM;
to strengthen NSF INCLUDES Network activities with best practices and lessons learned from the project.
State of Scientific Community Management – 2016 landscape survey
In 2016 we carried out a survey of over 100 scientific community professionals to determine more about their career paths to date, their skill sets and challenges.
For this survey we partnered with The Community Roundtable, who generously let us use and adapt their State of Community Management survey question bank which they use each year to look at corporate communities.
We found that:
Scientific community managers are often self-taught with a PhD
Funding for scientific community managers tends to vary depending on the type of organization they’re working for
Online platforms are still making inroads in scientific communities
Community managers tend to result in more strategic, more regular community programming
The CSCCE Skills Wheel describes 45 skills used by STEM community managers divided into 5 core competencies. It was created by the C3 project team from the 2017 cohort of the CSCCE Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP 2017). The members of the team were four Fellows: Jennifer Davison, Andreas Leidolf, Malin Sandström, Elisha Wood-Charlson; along with CSCCE’s director Lou Woodley.
The team carried out a range of activities to create the wheel, including comparing the skills listed in a range of scientific community manager job descriptions, surveying scientific community managers within the 2017 CEFP cohort, and undertaking additional literature analysis regarding similar models. From this work, they identified the five core competencies and component skills that make up the wheel.
We are currently convening a working group within our community of practice to continue this research.
Netweaving is a term used in STEM education for the brokering of relationships between stakeholders and has many similarities to community management. Lou Woodley participated in a research study led by the Netweaver Network in 2019.
Here’s a description of the study from their website:
“During the last half of 2019, Network of STEM Education Centers (NSEC) convened three 90-min network learning dialogues with four leading experts in network facilitation, systems change, and STEM education reform (Julie Risien, Lou Woodley, Ann Austin and Emily Miller). Our focus was how to design, create, facilitate, and manage transformative STEM learning networks.
These dialogues are being analyzed in conjunction with a parallel set of discussions among social-ecological netweavers to advance netweaving practice and identify next steps…We are analyzing the results of these dialogues in order to identify the insights and identify possible next steps to support a STEM netweaving community of practice.”
Ambassadors and Advocates in scientific community programs
Two CEFP project teams conducted research on ambassadors and advocates in scientific communities. In 2017, the Advocacy Ninjas looked at the programs that support ambassadors, and in 2019 the Busy Bees surveys participants in these programs. The Advocacy Ninjas work is published as a guidebook and is available for download here.
We now refer to advocates, ambassadors, and fellows collectively as community champions, emergent leaders within a community who take on more responsibility for the success, sustainability, and/or running of the community.
This research, as well as our own establishment of the CSCCE Community Participation Model in 2020, led to the formation of a community of practice working group that ran throughout 2021 and into 2022. We will be releasing the output of this working group, a series of 9 tip sheets, in 2022.
We are always open to research collaborations. We bring a deep understanding of communities, especially in the STEM ecosystem, and an ongoing commitment to improving the diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility of scientific research. If you would like to work with us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in writing us into a grant application, we appreciate you contacting us as early in that process as possible.
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