Establishing a Shared Interest Group (SIG)

We would like to encourage a fluid structure of over-lapping, cross-cutting research groups. The existence of such thematic groups will be used as an indicator to determine Institute strengths and will likely influence the institute's future research strategy.

For example, a postdoc may wish to form a "Vector ecology" group [NB, now exists at 'Vector Biology & Disease']. The intent might be to simply 'badge' a disparate but complementary set of researchers who wish to communicate or collaborate (within and beyond BAHCM), create more coherent and focused research environments in particular areas, draw attention to dispersed strength, or develop large-scale funding. 

They could proceed through a number of stages:

Stage 1. Mailing list

They apply to the Institute Management Group for recognition and permission to set up a mailing list.  The Institute will be likely to look on this favourably, and may be willing to provide limited funding (up to £100, for food / drink / photocopying  / anything) to support a couple of meetings whereby the leads identify the level of interest, define the groups research domain, and choose a name for the mailing list.

The application process is simple: we are looking for a brief (200 word) description to go into BAHmail (and an online report) and to be sent out to bahcm-announce to recruit interested people, and a couple of people willing to administer the group.

Stage 2.  Web presence

If setting up the group is successful and it has ongoing meetings, we’d like it to have a presence on the Institute website to promote this aspect of our collective research interests.

In this regard the SIG website should act as a means to showcase the research we do in this area to external groups (funders, potential new staff/students as well as NGOs, charities, businesses interested in these areas). It should therefore reflect the messages we want to communicate, rather than being an administrative tool for organising the SIG members themselves. For internal administration/collaboration within the SIG, you can either consider establishing a mailing list (as above) and/or setting up a Google Group. The leads will register the SIG formally with the Institute Management Group and supply a web-page with word and picture content describing the group’s interests, purpose, ambitions and some outputs to snapshot research activity within the area.

As a minimum, a SIG website should contain:

  • Brief overview of the remit for the SIG (<500 wrds)
  • If you have research themes within the group, for each of these it would be useful to have:

- brief description of what the theme is (essentially a paragraph)
- list of members
- a picture for each theme (anything research related!) and any other media/posters, if you have any

  • Either within a theme, or for the overall SIG, it would be very useful to include a list of active grants aligned with the remit of this research. These can link across to the abstract/layperson summary that is held within the Institutes ‘Funding Summary’ table.
  • Please also think about including a selection of papers that also describe research, and any other materials members may have produced (presentations, podcasts, writing on blog posts or media magazines that help broader groups to understand the research. If you're struggling to find material, look at your individual selected papers in Enlighten (the University's publication repository) and scroll down to the feature - this will show where the papers have been discussed in the media, f1000, blogs, policy documents etc.

The site should also indicate who the administrative leads/contacts are. The institute would provide someone (or some small funds to pay someone) to keep this information up to date and to help with room bookings, for instance.

Stage 3.  Independence

We’re very keen for groups to develop in ways that they find valuable, for instance by bringing in external researchers to widen their worldview or for training, and to encourage them to seek funding for the area and for themselves in particular.

Following some evidence of traction, a group can apply for larger-scale Institute funding (up to £3000 pa) to hold meetings, bring speakers in, or conduct other group development activities (purposes to be defined clearly). The Institute may be able to offer additional forms of support such as paper collation, mailing list management, etc.

The total amount of support to groups of this sort is inevitably limited in total, and funds may taper off as groups acquire independent sustainability.

Stage 1/2/3b. Cleanup

Groups may be closed down and websites removed if for whatever reason activity shuts down. We’d obviously like to know about this to keep the website up to date.