Working group guidelines

Last revised in July 2021.


These guidelines provide convenors of BISA working groups with administrative and funding rules in line with good practice. They include a comprehensive set of requirements that must be adhered to as a condition of convenorship.

What is a BISA working group?

BISA working groups are an integral part of the Association and are regulated by the BISA Executive Committee with special oversight given to the BISA officers, and day-to-day management given to the BISA Director.

Working groups are central to our core mission to support, maintain and develop International Studies in the UK and abroad. Their activities, supported by BISA, encompass research, knowledge exchange, learning and teaching and professional development. They also foster dialogue both within and beyond academia.

Working groups should make use of our virtual event platform to meet, share research and network with those in and outside of the working group membership. In addition, research should be presented at the annual BISA conference so it is accessible to all members. To facilitate this, we commit to reserving the majority of panels and roundtables for working groups to showcase their research to a broad section of the BISA and International Studies community.

Administrative guidance and requirements

A. Membership of working groups

  • Membership of working groups is open and free to all full BISA members, postgraduate members, and named individuals on corporate/NGO memberships, but not undergraduate members or school members. BISA members can join up to three working groups plus the Learning and Teaching Working Group via our online membership portal.
  • Non-members are usually allowed to attend virtual working group events as long as they have registered to attend on the BISA registration page and paid the relevant fee. If convenors do not want non-members to attend, they can request this at set up. Where there is limited space at an event members should be given priority over non-members.

B. Events

All events must have an event webpage on the BISA website, and use our events registration system, Indico. You should have been sent details of the process for setting up and holding working group events when you started as a convenor. Please speak to the BISA Events and Conference Assistant if you are unsure who will explain the process to you.

Virtual events – fees for non-members

  • One panel/roundtable event (up to 2 hours) – Standard non-member £13, Student/ECR non-member £10
  • Half-day event – Standard non-member £28, Student/ECR non-member - £18
  • Full-day event - Standard non-member £43, Student/ECR non-member - £28

Invited non-member plenary speakers/presenters are not required to pay.

In person events – fees for non-members

If funding is approved by the BISA Executive Committee to run an in-person event, non-members will be charged a minimum of £45 to attend unless special arrangements are agreed with the Director prior to the event taking place. If the costs per person are more than £45 then a higher amount equal to those costs must be charged.

Invited non-member plenary speakers/presenters are not required to pay.

C. Working group structure

  • Working groups must have at least 10 BISA members to be considered viable.
  • Members of working groups are required to either elect or appoint at least two convenors, and it is recommended that these in turn appoint other BISA members to take on specific responsibilities such as communications, finance or post graduate affairs. A lead convenor should be identified who will act as the main point of communication with BISA.
  • Convenors and those assisting with comms, finance or postgraduate affairs MUST be BISA members for the duration of their appointment. The only exception to this rule are those invited by convenors to judge award panels.
  • If the working group choses to hold elections, anyone can put their name forward as a working group convenor (member or non-member of BISA). However, if they are elected, they must become both a BISA member and a member of the working group immediately after election. Nominators, seconders and all voters must be BISA members.
  • Convenors are appointed or elected for two years. They may stand for a second term of two years, but must relinquish their post after a fourth year of office. Retiring convenors shall not be eligible for re-election if they have served four years, without first having a two-year break.
  • It is recommended that convenors do not start their terms at the same time, but rather stagger terms of office so that there is some institutional memory and continuity.
  • At least one convenor must be a permanent academic member of staff based at a UK Higher Education Institute (HEI).
  • Convenors must carry out their work with the knowledge and support of their academic institution.
  • It is recommended that working groups hold an Annual Business Meeting either virtually using the BISA online system, or in person at the annual BISA conference. Rooms for an in-person ABM can be booked for this purpose by visiting the BISA conference pages once registration opens each year.

D. Requirements and responsibilities of convenors

  • New convenors must notify the BISA Director by emailing within two weeks of their appointment.
  • New convenors will be required to read and acknowledge acceptance of BISA’s Conflict of Interest policy, Code of Conduct, Equality and Diversity policy, and Privacy Standard
  • Convenors must be BISA members for the entire duration of their appointment.
  • Outgoing convenors are required to write a handover report for the incoming convenor(s) and ensure a copy is sent to the BISA office at

E. Communication and publication requirements

  1. Convenors must ensure that a nominated person from their group takes responsibility for keeping the BISA Communications Manager informed of its activities, events and any awards. This information is needed for the BISA newsletter and website.
  2. Working groups are encouraged to provide information of their activities for the BISA newsletter.
  3. Each working group is provided with a dedicated website section with a landing page, about page and options to add news, events and analysis pages. The working group must maintain and populate these pages and ensure that all group events are advertised on it. This is for the benefit of all BISA members and interested parties, and to ensure a consistent membership experience. BISA’s Communications Manager is available to assist working groups in keeping their webpages updated if they do not wish, or do not have the time, to create pages themselves. Please send all relevant information and images to the Communications Manager.
  4. Working groups should only use the dedicated BISA-supported webpages. They should not create or operate parallel sites.
  5. Training materials on how to create webpages are available from the Communications Manager.
  6. Working groups are welcome to set up and maintain their own social media accounts but should ensure @MYBISA (Twitter and Facebook) is tagged when possible.
  7. BISA branding must be used by working groups at all their events and on any promotional material. Working group logos and social media avatars are available from the BISA Communication Manager.
  8. BISA must be acknowledged and its logo used on any materials that arise from the activities of the working group.
  9. Each working group has an approved working group logo which can be used instead of the main BISA logo where appropriate. Working groups should not create or use any alternative logos. If you have a working group logo that was used prior to 2020, this needed to be phased out by the end of 2020.
  10. Working groups are not permitted to create their own journals or annual publications.
  11. Working groups are not allowed to enter into publishing contracts in the name of the group or of BISA without prior BISA approval.

F. Sponsorship

Working groups are permitted to accept sponsorship to run events from external sources, but must consult with the BISA Director prior to acceptance and declare this in any BISA funding application.

G. Advocacy

Working groups must not take on any advocacy work under the BISA working group name without prior approval from the BISA Director.

H. Working group archives

Working group materials form an important part of the institutional memory of the Association. BISA is interested in ensuring that the activities and business of working groups are documented and archived such that future generations of scholars will see the impact the groups have had on the landscape of International Studies research and activity.

Working group end of year reports will be kept by BISA as a record of the activities and the events that have taken place during a particular year. Convenors can also send minutes of the working group annual business meeting or any other materials to the BISA office for archiving.

I. New working groups

Please see the process for setting up and funding for new working groups.

J. Working group activities and expectations

BISA supports a wide range of working group activities including both new research and activities that stimulate or co-ordinate existing research activities. The most common include working group panels, roundtables, seminars and conferences. We also support events on the development of learning and teaching in higher education and activities that assist career development.

It is expected that working groups will contribute to the discipline in the following ways over the course of any given year (January to January):

  • Run on average two working group virtual/F2F activities a year.
  • Contribute to building the annual conference programme by both soliciting papers/panels/roundtables via our conference system and selecting appropriate panels/roundtables to go onto the programme.
  • Apply for guaranteed BISA panel slots at other similar conferences such as the International Studies Association (ISA), the European International Studies Association (EISA) and any others that are offered to BISA.
  • Contribute a minimum of one online article related to their working group per annum on the BISA website. This might take the form of an event review, profile on a prominent member or convener, the group’s research etc.

K. Working group funding

BISA has invested in a virtual event set up which provides far-reaching opportunities for members and non-members to participate in our work, and contribute to achieving our goals as a professional association and a charity.

Working groups are encouraged to hold their events online and will be supported by a dedicated BISA virtual event assistant who will help with the setting up, registration and hosting of working group events.

The BISA Executive Committee will consider small ad hoc funding requests from working groups for their virtual events under the Virtual Event Fund. Examples include funds for annual prizes or requests for non-academic speaker fees.

For those working groups that wish to hold a face-to-face activity that cannot be replicated in a virtual event, a new central Face-to-Face Activity Fund has been established. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must demonstrate the added value of holding a F2F event as opposed to a virtual event.

If you would like to apply for either of these funds please visit the funding page linked above for further details.

Allocation of funds

In the event of a successful funding application under the Face-to Face Activity Fund, monies will be held by BISA rather than allocated to a host university or working group account. Convenors are responsible for collecting, collating and submitting reimbursement claims for approved expenditure of events, speakers and award holders to the BISA office: Individual expenditure claims must be submitted on the BISA working group expenses claim form. Individual members must not claim directly and will be referred back to the convenor should they do so. All funding claims must be in line with the approved funding award unless prior permission has been obtained to amend these details.

  • Convenors must ensure that any invoices are made out to the British International Studies Association (BISA), University of Birmingham, Room 650, Muirhead Tower, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT.
  • Expenses: Please ensure VAT receipts are obtained where applicable.

All reimbursement claims must be made within the award period, and ideally within three months of the event taking place. BISA undertakes to make prompt payment.

L.  Dissolution of working groups

A working group may be dissolved by the BISA Executive Committee. Any such action will only occur after discussion with the relevant convenors and under the following circumstances:

  • A decision has been taken at the annual business meeting of the working group to cease its activities.
  • Working group membership has fallen to below 10 BISA members.
  • No eligible members come forward to convene the working group.
  • The working group has not run any activities during the proceeding year.
  • The working group has not followed the conditions of BISA convenorship.

A decision on dissolution will be communicated to the working group’s membership by the BISA Director after consultation with the Executive Committee.

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