[ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion
jcribb at work.netspeed.com.au
Fri Nov 15 04:29:50 UTC 2013
Thanks, Rob. I'm not in the least fussed whether it is my draft or someone
else's - so long as we adopt some professional standards (and defend our
people from untoward pressures, as the media code and others do).
To take a random example the Australian (RACI) chemists' code states "a
member shall endeavour to advance the honour, integrity and dignity of the
profession of chemistry. However, notwithstanding this or any other By-law,
the responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of the community shall
at all times take precedence." If Aussie chemists are prepared to put the
community and nation first, why not we?
Draft a few points, workshop them on skype, circulate to all - and put to
debate and a vote at the conference. How hard can that be?
Julian Cribb FTSE
Julian Cribb & Associates
ph +61 (0)2 6242 8770 or 0418 639 245
Email: julian at cribb.net.au
From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Rob
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 2:57 PM
To: Susan Kirk; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion
The thread of this topic is getting pretty long so I have cut some earlier
stuff off, Easily found if you do a search and want to read it.
Julian is quite correct in his references to his work on a code of ethics.
The executive has (or, rather, several executives have), over the years,
produced or nearly produced this code, as well as other guidelines and
similar things. I once (2008?)prepared some guidelines for young science
communicators about how to put stuff on line, and a protocol for email
distribution. Both of these were on the ASC website for years, but would by
now have been overtaken by technology and other changes.
Julian was not so fortunate. His was a good list, but in the nature of these
things discussion was protracted and when that extends over a year, there is
always the chance that a new executive comes in and loses track of what the
past one has done. Things then get overtaken by new issues. From memory,
this happened to Julian's suggestions. I know that it happened to a lot of
work I had done on ASC approval and endorsement for short training programs,
and it may have happened to others as well.
It is perhaps in the nature of an association like ASC that this happens,
especially with volunteers all pressed for time, but it can mean that those
who are prepared to put in a lot of work on something feel that they have
wasted their time, and we are then less likely to have them prepared to act
again, and ASC is the loser if that occurs.
I suggest Julian be invited to put his suggestions forward again (He
mentined them in his earlier email on this matter) and we decide to deal
with them one way or another within a stated time frame. It will be too
close to the AGM to deal with them this year, but they could be placed as an
AGM item that we ask the incoming Committee to deal in one definitive way or
another within 6 months.
The Exec list is always too long to get through in meetings, but this would
give this issue a high priority which, in fairness to Julian, it should by
Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272
From: ASC-list <asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au> on behalf of Susan Kirk
<skirk at iprimus.com.au>
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 12:44 PM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM, Susan Kirk <skirk at iprimus.com.au> wrote:
Firstly, I'm sorry that you (Jesse) feel I'm bagging the organisation and
that you need to 'bite'. I don't think that's a fair comment at all. I also
feel this is counterintuitive to this discussion and to other members
feeling comfortable commenting. On the other hand I admire your passion for
the group and to some extent I second it. Otherwise I wouldn't bother.
As for your comments about volunteers I put my hand up for the code of
ethics last year at the AGM and went to a great deal of work to collate
information, including that draft by Julian, which, he, went to some trouble
to produce. I expected some sort of discussion at the meeting but it was
taken out of general discussion and given to the executive to work on. I've
not heard one word since. Maybe I missed the initial discussions Rod is
talking about? But wasn't it common knowledge that I had indicated my
interest? Why not contact me directly? I also wonder if it was all so hard
why not introduce what Julian put together?
I also volunteered to be the Queensland web editor where I was told that I
would be provided updates for posting. I received one or two initially and
since then nutter. I try to post regular things, but the website is such a
mess with no real direction in terms of plan or comms strategy, its
difficult. I also have concerns about the look of the website and the adhoc
manner of posting and formatting. I know this is probably another way for
us to gain input, but I don't think it works.
if we keep using the 'we are only a volunteer association banner' how can we
strive for professionalism. It also raises the question of how well our $s
are being spent. I'm not sure I can afford another rise, especially if
nothing changes. Having said that I would rather see an increase in fees
for a better organisation, than paying a minimal fee for what? Especially if
I unsubscribe to the Scope and ASC list as Jesse suggests.
There has been a lot of talk about membership drives? What is happening
there? Also what is happening to the GM position?
I just think that some of the things that are lacking are really basic
things like communication in which we should be excelling.
> There are at least 2 main reasons the pursuit of a code of ethics (and
> related) for the ASC has stalled recently that I can see.
> (1) The ASC is run by one part timer and a tiny band of volunteers.
> When I became Prez last year, one of my key ?platforms' was to push for a
> and frank conversation for such a code, and link it directly to an
> conversation about professionalisation. This began well early this year,
> driven by one of the 2 new VPs (my colleague, Will Grant). While some
> did offer interesting and useful thoughts early on in the process,
> were a little underwhelming.
> The impression could be drawn that in fact not too many members were
> that interested.
> But the bigger issue that stalled the conversation about ethics etc was my
> being struck down in April by nasty medical matters and having to step
> not just as President, but from the any useful role in the executive.
> even a single person from the executive has a significant effect on
> Claire was brave and very generous to step up from VP to act as President,
> all the exec began working from that point with one less person - a
> significant drop in human resources.
> I think everyone needs to remember that while it?s easy (and not
> to suggest ?the ASC' should do things (as I have done myself in the past),
> it?s very easy to forget that the only permanent and paid ASC person is
> and she is officially very much a part timer (though she works above and
> beyond, without pay, all the time). Everyone else is a volunteer, with the
> roles often changing hands year-to-year. It certainly can make it
> get coherent and sustained action going.
> (2) Improvements and (some surprise) changes to the internal workings of
> ASC in 2013.
> This year has seen the introduction of a new and vastly more functionally
> IT back-end to the ASC?s workings, as well as a new-look shiny version of
> Scope (with a new editor). It took all of Kali?s official time (and then
> just to work with the IT stuff, better yet continue to handle the
> When you add in the organising of the conference for 2014, time disappears
> There were also a few things about the way in which the ASC was set up
> needed tweaking, and thus required a lot of research and investigation
> to Kali, Pete W, Claire and Jesse). On top of this, Claire (with the
> team) was already working hard to massage and improve internal
> before she stepped into my role. Her old responsibilities didn?t
> she just added a bunch more!
> The bottom line, I believe, is that there would be a lot of good to be had
> moving the ASC towards having a recognisable code of ethics for the
> Julian, others (and I) have argued before.
> However, what needs to be considered as an Association is (a) how much we
> really want it, and (b) if we do want it, how much people prepared to do
> get us there.
> In short - if you want new and good things out of the ASC, it?s going to
> people raising their hands to help get them done. That, or pay a
> higher membership fee to have an employed exec/ secretariat.
> Hope this helps add useful background folks,
> On 15 Nov 2013, at 9:51 am, JCribb <jcribb at work.netspeed.com.au> wrote:
>> I second Susan?s remarks, especially (at the risk of repetition) about
>> need for a professional ethics code for science communicators. I have
>> pushing this for 5 years or more now, but it seems to have stalled
>> completely. Don?t you guys believe in having ethical standards?
>> An ethics code is not just there to provide guidance to science
>> ? it is also intended to protect you from unethical requirements imposed
>> your employer, eg when they ask you to write something which you know in
>> heart is just marketing hype or even misinformation, not fact-based
>> Far too many communicators are treated by their organisations and
>> spin merchants, rather than as knowledge sharers, and we need to defend
>> ideal of sharing human knowledge in an objective, unbiased way.
>> As universities, especially, become more commercial their behaviour comes
>> resemble that of corporations: the communications function is subsumed
>> marketing, promotion, advertising and PR. It is directed at making money
>> the institution rather than educating society. Ditto for a great many
>> government comms functions nowadays ? what used to be public information
>> been translated into political propaganda by the grubby realpolitik of
>> Science agencies, too, are driven more by the need to appease political
>> commercial paymasters rather than inform, educate, enlighten and account
>> the Australian people for how they invested our tax science dollars.
>> Those are valid professions ? but they are not science communication, and
>> they are not out job. We need to make clear the distinction, and have a
>> written code that explains it not only to ourselves, but to anyone who
>> to misuse us. Or else we will end up being a despised subset of the
>> advertising industry.
>> Attached is the draft I originally submitted to ASC in 2008.
>> Over to you!
>> Julian Cribb FTSE
>> Julian Cribb & Associates
>> ph +61 (0)2 6242 8770 <tel:%2B61%20%280%292%206242%208770> or 0418 639
>> Email: julian at cribb.net.au
>> Web: www.sciencealert.com.au/jca.html
>> Skype: julian.cribb
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