Category Archives: Community Engagement

Collaborative technologies – facilitating how we conduct research together

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

3 people using laptops. Two have letters and numbers obscuring their heads.
Illustration from Think Quarterly by Matt Taylor

Last week I attended the Science of Team Science (SciTS) conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida where I took part in a couple of sessions, and moderated a third. Here I’m going to share some reflections from the first session which focused on collaborative technologies for academic collaborations.

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The Community Lifecycle – Converting theory to practice as a community manager

Caterpillars and butterfly on a leaf
Monarch butterfly stages of development” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region under CC BY 2.0

Building online communities can be hard. Maybe you start a discussion and nothing happens – silence. Or maybe last week saw lots of conversation but this week you’re back to worrying that you’re talking to yourself. Combine that with the lack of training and resources for community managers and you can be left confused about what to do to help your community activate and grow.

One of the resources that we’ve used a lot at Trellis is the four-stage lifecycle model presented in Rich Millington’s book, “Buzzing Communities”. Millington’s model is based on a systematic review by Iriberri and Leroy which synthesized the results of 27 papers about online communities to create a model for how online communities progress. This lifecycle model is key if you’re a community manager because it explains clearly what to expect at each stage – and what you should be doing to move things along to the next.

We’ve now used this model in exercises for our AAAS Community manager journal club, for our AAAS Community Engagement Fellows training and even for a staff lunch and learn event. Read on for some key takeaways about the lifecycle model – and if you’d like to discuss it in more detail, you can request to join the C4Sci group on Trellis where we regularly discuss all things related to scientific community-building.

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Survey snapshot: Communications practices of small scale collaborations

Last week AAAS and Trellis hosted a three-day NSF-sponsored INCLUDES conference entitled: “The Technical and Human Infrastructure to Support Collective Impact of the INCLUDES Program at the Alliance and Network Levels”. The goal of the conference was to explore how small-scale pilot projects funded at the initial stage of the program might scale to larger collaborations.

To provide context for the discussions of collaboration infrastructure at the conference, we conducted a survey of tools and communication practices of the INCLUDES pilots. Here are three key takeaways based on 33 responses, covering 27 of the 37 total pilot projects.

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The moment you realize you have become a “Community Engagement Manager”

In January 2017, we wrapped up the training week for the inaugural class of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from the January training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, we’re sharing Elisha Wood-Charlson’s tale of becoming a community engagement manager.

Posted by Elisha Wood-Charlson, Communications Project Manager at the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education

White lightbulb
Lightbulb – Great Idea!” by uberof202, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Actually, there were several moments – four to be exact – where I stumbled into, explored, and finally embraced the role of “Community Engagement Manager”:

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Scientific community managers’ top challenges and training needs

In our series of posts about results of the AAAS State of Scientific Community Management survey we’ve looked into what types of organizations are home to scientific communities, examined their communication channels and ways of planning activities, and analyzed scientific community managers’ backgrounds, skill sets, and how their positions are funded.

In our final blog post about survey results (complete report coming soon), we return to the topic of community managers’ skill sets, focusing on their top challenges and the areas where they want more training.

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How scientific community managers shape activity planning

We’re back with more insight from the AAAS State of Scientific Community Management survey. Previous posts have explored aspects of the community management position, the nature of the organizations where communities are found, and features of the communities themselves such as their communication channels.

In this post we look at three findings about program and activity planning in communities. Read on to see how having a community manager leads to activities that are more frequent, strategically planned, and participatory.

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Online platforms are still making inroads in scientific communities

In previous posts about our State of Scientific Community Management survey, we’ve explored what types of scientific organizations have communities and we’ve described features of scientific community managers’ training and skill sets and their funding.

Today, we’re looking at some properties of the actual communities: their communication channels and platforms. Read on to find out about online versus offline communication channels and the adoption of online community platforms.

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Community manager journal club recap: Fostering a sense of belonging

Posted by Gabrielle Rabinowitz, Community Manager at Trellis

"Passt 2" by Willi Heidelbach, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Passt 2” by Willi Heidelbach, licensed under CC BY 2.0

We’ve recently started a monthly community management journal club at AAAS. In our first two meetings, we’ve focused on two questions at the heart of community building: “What makes a group of people a community?” and “How do these communities vary?” The readings for these meetings included an excerpt from Jono Bacon’s The Art of Community and a blog post by Lou Woodley, Considering Community: What types of community are there?

One theme that emerged from our discussions was the importance of belonging. Read on for different interpretations of this value and how to foster it in your community.

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Exploring scientific community managers’ skill sets

So far, our analysis of the AAAS State of Scientific Community Management survey has addressed scientific community managers’ education and training, the types of organizations that hire them, and the funding landscape for community management.

In this post we explore the skillsets that scientific community managers rely on in their current roles. We asked our survey respondents to rate the importance of 5 key skill sets, originally delineated by The Community Roundtable for the broader field of community management outside science. Read on to learn about which skill set ranks highest, and how the rankings change depending on seniority.

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A closer look at the funding landscape for scientific community managers

Posted by Dan Richman, Program Assistant for the Community Engagement Fellows Program and Gabrielle Rabinowitz, Community Manager for Trellis

Through the AAAS State of Scientific Community Management survey we’ve collected data on all facets of the field. So far we’ve looked at scientific community managers’ education and training and identified which types of organizations are hiring them. We’ve also learned that insufficient funding is the number one reason why organizations lack community managers.

Today, we’re following up on this finding by digging a little deeper into the picture of funding for community managers. Read on for 3 key findings.

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