Working group/special interest group guidelines and application

Table of contents

  1. Background / rationale
  2. Expectations for groups
  3. Application process
  4. Setup process
  5. Reviewing a group’s status and closing groups
  6. Changes in group leadership

1. Background / rationale

As the CSSCE community of practice continues to grow, some members may wish to collaborate with one another in a more structured manner to share knowledge, gain support in their work, and advance the field of scientific community engagement.

We imagine that there are two different types of groups that may wish to form: Working groups and special interest groups.

Working groups

Working groups meet to make progress on a specific material output or activity, such as creating a code of conduct or building out community profiles. Working groups will likely have a defined scope (that may be refined, limited, or extended over their lifetime) and clear intended outputs (e.g., the code of conduct working group aims to produce a draft of core values and code of conduct as well as guidelines for enforcement).

The working group will likely meet regularly to advance its goals and once those are achieved it may decide to close or to expand its scope to a new, related set of activities. 

Closing a working group is not a sign of failure – it may in fact indicate that the group successfully met its objectives. 

Special interest groups

Special interest groups are less focused on defined material outputs than working groups and may simply involve bringing together individuals who are interested in exploring a particular area together (e.g. working as a community manager in a specific domain, swapping periodic updates about interesting books related to community management) without there being defined outputs from those connections. 

To be successful, a special interest group still needs some form of programming to enable members to engage with one another (e.g. a monthly call, ongoing conversations in a Slack channel) but these may be more freeform than the goal-oriented activities of a working group.  

Do consider that if you’re setting up a special interest group, you still need to be able to define its scope otherwise members won’t know what it’s for or how to engage with the suggested subject.

Scaffolding for success

This page outlines how CSCCE will support both of these types of groups and addresses the following considerations:

  • How to create equitable access to working groups and special interest groups for CSCCE community members. How do new and existing CSCCE community members find out about the groups and decide to join? How are they welcomed into the group and able to participate once they decide to join?
  • How to share resources produced by the working groups with CSCCE community members (and beyond, where relevant) in a timely, accessible and collaborative manner to maximize their use and impact. This may include: publishing materials, leading community calls, writing blog posts, or adding information in the weekly Slack newsletter or monthly CSCCE newsletter.
  • How to support the group’s co-chairs as they convene their groups so that they feel empowered and not overwhelmed. This is intended to minimize burn out and support the group in its successful continuation.
  • How to support behaviour in the groups that is in line with the overall values and code of conduct of the CSCCE Community of Practice. This includes being welcoming of others, thoughtful in communicating outwards, and giving appropriate credit for contributions.

2. Expectations for groups

The following expectations apply for CSCCE groups. Failure to adhere to these guidelines will result first in a conversation about what has occurred with the intention of finding a workable resolution. In the absence of a satisfactory outcome, CSCCE reserves the right to close groups as outlined in section 5 below.

Both types of groups

  • Will have two or three co-chairs who are responsible for convening the group regularly and reporting out to CSCCE staff about the group’s activities.
  • Should maintain a minimum level of activity. We suggest a monthly call for group members (more may be appropriate for a working group depending on goals and member availability) plus at least weekly updates to the group’s Slack channel.
  • Will have a minimum of 5 overall proposed members when the group set-up request is submitted i.e. at least two co-chairs plus three interested members.
  • Will have a process for welcoming new members to the group – whether this rests with the co-chairs or is shared with other existing members
  • Wherever possible will adopt a collaborative attitude to decision-making – including using polls to decide on meeting dates and encourage turn-taking or sharing of tasks such as taking meeting minutes
  • Wherever possible will give clear notice of the timing (and cancellation) of programming to make it as easy as possible for other busy community managers to attend or adjust their own schedules. 

Special interest groups 

  • Unless there is a compelling reason for them to be private, special interest groups will be hosted in open (public to the CSCCE community) channels on Slack and will be open to anyone in the CSCCE community to join.

Working groups

  • Working groups may choose to be open (public to the CSCCE community on Slack) or closed (in a private channel on the CSCCE Slack)
  • Will decide on an admission process for the group as part of the group set up process e.g. will there be a single call for members to join or several “open enrollment periods” throughout the year to manage the intake of new group members.
  • Products created as part of a CSCCE working group and published in a public arena such as a journal or magazine should acknowledge CSCCE and the CSCCE CoP. CSCCE staff can provide appropriate language, logos and sign off. 
  • Other outputs, such as one pagers or guidebooks, should be submitted to CSCCE staff for formatting and archiving in our Zenodo community repository.
  • Materials created as part of a CSCCE working group must quote, credit, and reference source materials in an ethical and legally compliant manner. This includes, but is not limited to, one pagers, guidebooks, peer-reviewed publications, visual materials and infographics, podcasts, and videos.


Group co-chairs will be expected to read and adhere to the following documentation intended to support equitable, inclusive activities in the CSCCE community that uphold our collective core values:

CSCCE staff involvement 

CSCCE staff do not necessarily envisage being active members of every sub-group in the CSCCE community – nor do we have the resources to co-lead each group. This set up process is intended to support our community members in meeting their needs collaboratively. 

However, in cases of particular strategic importance of a group (e.g. our code of conduct working group), or where the group is generally of interest (e.g. diversity, equity and inclusion), staff would join groups and aim to participate in a way that is both sensitive to their status and collaborative in orientation. 

3. Application process

If you’re interested in leading a working group or special interest group, we want to make the process as easy as possible while setting you up for success. The process of applying to set up a new group looks like this:

  • You complete this Google form outlining your request. 
  • Staff will review your request within 7 working days and get back to you to either:
    • Approve your group
    • Ask for further clarifications
    • Not approve your group
  • Reasons for not approving a group might be:
    • We need additional information from you – such as clarification of the group’s purpose
    • There’s an existing CSCCE group addressing the same topic. In which case, we’d be happy to facilitate introductions 
    • The group is outside the remit of the CSCCE community which focuses on scientific community management 
    • Other reasons that we’d explain in our response to you.

4. Set up process

Timeline and process

  • If we approve your group, we’ll let you know within 7 working days and we’ll set up a call to walk through next steps (e.g. giving you access to online tools and clarifying any further support you might require).
  • We’ll check in over the following month to make sure that you have everything you need.
  • After that, you’ll lead and report out about your group as outlined in the expectations above.


We will provide by default

  • A Slack channel for your group
  • A shared Google Drive folder for resource-sharing
  • Listing on the CSCCE website on the working groups / special interest groups page: 
  • Inclusion of your calls (if a special interest group or open working group) on the events calendar: 
  • Support with the dissemination of outputs such as formatting of materials for publication on Zenodo / the CSCCE website, or providing a platform via the CSCCE blog and community calls (subject to editorial policy and scheduling).

We expect you to maintain any resources and documentation (such as notes from your group calls) in these designated shared spaces to facilitate access to them for other CSCCE community members. CSCCE staff will not regularly monitor this process but can provide support if requested.

We can provide on request

  • Zoom meeting links for your regular monthly calls (subject to availability)
  • Mention in the weekly Slack newsletter that goes out to all members of the Slack group. Email Katie by Monday 2pm Eastern the week that you’d like info to be shared in the Wednesday newsletter. We encourage you to provide an update to this newsletter at least once every 6 weeks. 
  • Mention in the CSCCE monthly newsletter e.g. about resources, surveys, requests for feedback etc. Email Katie by Monday 2pm Eastern on the first Monday of each month if you have info that you’d like to be shared in this newsletter. 
  • Support with managing your working group e.g. suggestions of other community members interested in your topic, advice on managing workflows and reporting out.

When we help you set up your group, we’ll give you the opportunity to tell us which of these things would be useful for your group and you can reach out at any point subsequently with requests.

5. Reviewing a group’s status and closing groups

CSCCE reserves the right to close any group that’s been inactive for several months and/or whose admins are unresponsive to attempts to communicate with them. We will always endeavour to give adequate notice of such action and to preserve any resources generated by the group. 

If your group has decided to close e.g. because you’ve met its original objectives or there is no longer interest in it, please let us know so we can archive the group.

In both cases of voluntary closure and closure due to abandonment, closure of a group would consist of:

  • Archiving the corresponding Slack channel such that it is closed to new commenting
  • Conversion of the shared Google folder and any child folders and materials within to view only access
  • Updating the CSCCE website to reflect that the group is no longer active

6. Changes in group leadership 

A group’s co-chair can step down from their role at any time. We ask that you let CSCCE staff know of your decision to do so – with some notice if possible. If you are able to plan for succession and find another community member to co-chair the group that would be helpful. The longer lead time we have the more CSCCE staff can support this process, if necessary.