Working group guidelines

Last revised in March 2023.

A. Introduction

These guidelines provide convenors of BISA working groups with a clear list of expectations, as well as comprehensive details on administrative and funding requirements as a condition of convenorship in line with good practice.

What is a BISA working group?

BISA working groups are at the heart 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.

What are BISA expectations of convenors?

Convening a working group is a great opportunity to shape and lead on areas of international studies as well as expand networks with other academics and interested parties both within and outside the profession. It requires commitment, energy and good organisational skills to manage and take ownership of the working group with BISA backing.

A convenor is responsible for representing the working group and organising events and activities on behalf of the membership of the group. Working together with another convenor(s), the role is a serious yet rewarding obligation, not only to the association but also to the members of the group. 

BISA expects its working groups to be active and, at a minimum, for both convenors to agree to undertake the following activities over the course of a year (Jan to Jan):

  • Agree to put on at least two events for working group members and the wider BISA community. These could be virtual events (panels/roundtables, workshops, mini conferences), or in person. At least one event must be virtual to ensure that it is inclusive for those who are unable to travel, whether inside or outside of the UK. All our virtual events have closed captions available.
  • Regularly populate the working group's section of the BISA website with news and the latest research. This could be in the form of a news story, an event review, a blog entry on a current development in the field related to the working group, a profile on a member, or a video
  • Agree to take the lead on the selection of abstracts/panels/roundtables submitted to the working group track for the BISA annual conference
  • Agree that the working group will present research to the rest of the membership and others attending the BISA annual conference
  • Make significant efforts to bring in new BISA members by increasing the size of the working group through its activities and research
  • Submit an annual report of activities to BISA in July of each year
  • Build resilience within the working group to ensure a smooth transition to the next convenor.

BISA fully recognises the dedication and hard work that volunteer convenors put into the working groups and understands that without such a commitment, BISA working groups could not function. With this in mind BISA is committed to providing as much support as possible. We can provide this in the following ways:

  • An annual virtual event fund to support non-academic speaker fees, prizes, funding and other ad hoc one-off requests
  • An annual face-to-face activity fund to support cases for in person events where working groups can clearly demonstrate the added value of holding such an event. More information on funding working group activities is available below in section J
  • Technical, administrative and communication support to run events and activities through BISA’s registration system and online platform
  • Ensuring that the majority of panels and roundtables at BISA’s annual conference are reserved for working groups to showcase their research to a broad section of the BISA and International Studies community
  • Offering BISA panel slots at other similar conferences such as the International Studies Association (ISA), the European International Studies Association (EISA) and other sister associations.

In addition, BISA would like convenors to commit to three meetings a year (January to January) with BISA as follows:

  • an online Zoom meeting with the Director and Communications Manager on taking up the convenership to go through annual expectations and requirements and ask any questions. These will be ongoing throughout the year
  • a face-to-face meeting of all working group convenors to share experiences and offer feedback with the BISA Chair, Vice-Chair and Director. This will take place at the BISA annual conference in June of each year
  • an online Zoom meeting with the BISA conference team to go through the process of managing the working group’s online conference submissions. This will take place in September of each year.

B. New convenor requirements

  • New convenors are usually elected or appointed by the working group membership
  • If the working group choses to hold elections, both members and non-members may put their names forward as a working group convenor. However, if they are elected, non-members 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
  • Where no working group member comes forward, BISA will take this as evidence that the working group is unviable, unless conveners are able to offer evidence of extenuating circumstances. In such cases BISA will put out a call to its wider membership asking for expressions of interest to run the working group. BISA will then appoint the convenors directly
  • Departing and incoming convenors must notify the BISA Director within two weeks of their departure or appointment
  • New convenors are required to read and acknowledge acceptance of BISA’s working group guidelines, Conflict of Interest policy, Code of Conduct, Equality and Diversity, and Privacy Standard
  • Each working group must have at least two convenors, one of whom must be a permanent member of staff based in a UK Higher Education Institute (HEI)
  • It is recommended that convenors in turn appoint other BISA working group members, perhaps a PhD colleague, to take on specific responsibilities such as events, communications, or postgraduate affairs
  • Convenors and those assisting 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
  • 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
  • New convenors must submit a 6 month overview in the first year and then an annual report of activities to BISA in July of each year (ie not Feb)
  • Convenors must consider the succession plans for the working group while in post so that the transition to a new convenor is effortless. They must write a handover report (to include all passwords) and ensure a copy is sent to the BISA office.

C. Membership of working groups

  • Each working group must have at least 10 members to be considered viable
  • Membership of working groups is open and free to all BISA members (including postgraduate members and named individuals of corporate/NGO memberships, but not undergraduate members or school members)
  • BISA members can join more than one working group, but we suggest that this is normally limited to a maximum of three plus the Learning and Teaching Working Group. You can join groups via the online membership portal.

D. Working group events and costs (virtual and F2F)

  • All working group events must have an event webpage on the BISA website and must use our events registration system, Indico, as outlined in the instructions below. These are also sent out to convenors at the beginning of their term
  • Working group events are open to both BISA members and non-members unless the convenor requests a member-only closed event which must be requested at set up
  • BISA members have free access to events, but all non-members are required to pay the relevant fees listed below
  • We ask that convenors encourage participants wanting to attend working group workshops and conferences to become BISA members rather than pay fees
  • Where there is limited space at an event, members will be given priority over non-members
  • All event participants, both virtual and F2F, must register on the BISA registration system in advance of events.

Virtual events – fees for non-members

One panel/roundtable event (up to 2 hours) – Standard non-member £14.50, Student/ECR non-member £11

Half-day event – Standard non-member £30, Student/ECR non-member - £22

Full-day event – Standard non-member £49, Student/ECR non-member - £32

Invited non-member keynote or plenary speakers are not required to pay. Workshop/conference participants are required to pay.

In-person events – fees for non-members

Non-members are to be charged a minimum of £54 to attend an in-person event unless special arrangements are agreed with the Director prior to the event taking place. All funds accumulated from non-member participation serve to a)  contribute to BISA’s working group funding pots and b) cover BISA’s overheads in managing working group events.

Invited non-member keynote or plenary speakers are not required to pay. Workshop/conference participants are required to pay.

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, all 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 BISA-supported 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 so should no longer be used
  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, lobbying and campaigning

Working groups must not take on any lobbying, campaigning or advocacy work under the BISA working group name without prior approval from the BISA Director, in consultation with the BISA Chair and Vice-Chair.

BISA and its subsidiary groups (working groups, committees) are governed by strict regulations under the UK Charity Commission. BISA and all its subsidiary groups must comply with key legal requirements and with Charity Commission guidance when it comes to political campaigning and lobbying. Specifically, there is a legal requirement on charities to ensure that any political campaigning must only be undertaken in the context of supporting the delivery of its charitable purposes. See the BISA policy on political campaigning and lobbying for more information.

If working groups wish to issue a public statement on any matter, or to engage in any advocacy or campaigning work on behalf of members, they must first contact the BISA Director. Convenors must also accept that these requests will sometimes be refused, if the BISA Director, Chair and Vice-Chair consider the proposed statement or campaigning to fall outside of what the Charity Commission permits. In such instances, refusal will be on the grounds that the Director, Chair and Vice-Chair consider there to be significant legal risk for the association, including legal action against BISA by third parties and/or sanctions from the Charity Commission, which could include the de-registration and closure of the association. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate suspension of working group convenors.

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 due in Feb of each year 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

BISA is currently not accepting new working groups but funding guidelines for the reference of recent new working groups can be read in addition to these guidelines.

J. 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.

To make events as inclusive and accessible as possible to all members, working groups are encouraged to hold their events online and will be supported by a dedicated BISA 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 requests for non-academic speaker fees.

For those working groups wishing 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. BISA encourages its working groups to obtain match funding or in-kind contributions where possible and priority will be given to working groups who demonstrate this. requests up to a maximum of £2,000 will be considered. 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 relevant pages linked above.

K. 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 on Individual expenditure claims must be submitted on the BISA working group expenses claim form found on the policies page). 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. If in doubt, please contact the BISA office. 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 any one of 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 preceding 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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