These monthly newsletters aim to keep all member networks updated with news describing how to get involved, as well as information of relevant events, services and new initiatives from the RSC Networks team. If you require further information about any of the items in the newsletter, or have any comments or ideas for content please contact the Networks team.

Committee members and representatives are encouraged to disseminate this information, as appropriate, to colleagues and other members. E-alert request forms can be downloaded from the Useful Forms and Documents page. Up to date lists of members can be obtained by emailing the Networks Team.

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Archive for October, 2020
This month in the Spotlight, we're looking at the Annual Report data from 2019 and the changes to the Annual Report for 2020 and 2021

The Royal Society of Chemistry has 71 Interest Groups, 35 Local Sections in the UK and Ireland, 22 international Local Sections in 17 countries, and 8 Analytical Division Regions in the UK and Ireland.

All of our Interest Groups carry out activities for the general advancement of chemical science in their subject area by the dissemination of knowledge. All of our Local Sections carry out activities to support RSC members in their local area. Analytical Division Regions carry out activities to support members of the Analytical Division in their area and for the general advancement of analytical chemistry.

Each member network (within and outwith the UK) is required to submit an Annual Report detailing their activities to RSC staff each year.

Overview of 2019 Annual Report data
110 of 136 Annual Reports were received, reporting almost 600 member network events in 2019 attended by approximately 48,000 people.
Network type Reports received Reports expected % received No. events in 2019 % of 2019 events
Analytical Division Region 7 8 88% 20 3%
Interest Group 56 71 79% 160 27%
International Local Section 16 22 73% 112 19%
UKROI Local Section 31 35 89% 302 51%
Total 110 136 81% 594 100%

More than half (51%) of all reported 2019 activities were organised by Local Sections and almost one in 5 (19%) of all member network events was organised by an international Local Section, catering to over 15000 people in 11 countries outside of the UK and Ireland. Our Local Sections plan events and activities to support RSC members in their local area; a large proportion of these are social and networking events to bring members together. Our international Local Sections also organise and support local scientific meetings for their members.

Our Analytical Division Regions and Local Sections are essential for helping us to fulfil our purpose of advancing excellence in the chemical sciences on a local level; they each organise education and outreach activities for students and members of the public in the local community.

Most Interest Group events are scientific meetings and conferences to aid in their purpose of advancing their subject by the dissemination of knowledge. In 2019 our 71 Interest Groups held 86 half- or full-day scientific meetings and 51 multi-day meetings, catering to over 10,000 attendees. Many Interest Groups also offered bespoke networking and training opportunities for their members.

Financial support offered in 2019
Our Interest Groups and Local Sections awarded 193 grants and bursaries and sponsored 53 events in 2019.

Our Interest Groups sponsored and supported 28 conferences and meetings (in addition to the ones they organised), and offered over £50,000 in Travel Grants to support 136 members to attend national and international conferences.

Within the UK, our Local Sections supported 7 schools with grants to participate in Top of the Bench, take pupils on chemistry themed trips, and support the creation of chemistry clubs. Local Sections sponsored 13 local scientific and public engagement activities and offered over £3000 in Travel Grants to support 20 members to attend local and international conferences.

Outside of the UK, our Local Sections supported the International Spring School of Electrochemistry in Sicily and 11 scientific meetings in Ireland. Our Malaysia Local Section also offered Travel Grants to attend international conferences.

Highlights of 2019
We asked all member networks to tell us about their best event of 2019. Four of the six AD Regions who responded indicated that the Schools’ Analyst Competition was their most successful event; three of the 28 Local Sections who responded indicated that Top of the Bench was their most successful event.

2019 was the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) and many of our Local Sections used this as a platform for highly successful public engagement and outreach activities, including:
  • Our Glasgow and West of Scotland Local Section knitted the periodic table and generated a considerable amount of interest amongst those that otherwise might not have engaged with IYPT.
  • Our Peninsula Local Section had an IYPT Sir Humphry Davy event in Penzance to mark the end of the IYPT to celebrate Sir Humphry Davy's achievements in his hometown.
  • Our Malaysia Local Section organised an IYPT Instagram competition that created awareness of the IYPT with many creative entries and generated interest in chemistry among schoolchildren.
  • Our Nigeria Local Section reached out to 350 secondary school students and their teachers to motivate them about the periodic table and careers in the chemical sciences

Other Local Section highlights included:
  • Our North Staffordshire Local Section’s Pottery about Chemistry event attracted a wide cross-section of the public.
  • Our Bristol & District Local Section Murder Mystery Howlers received the best feedback of their events; and the central location and early evening time-slot ensured a larger than normal audience.
  • Our Republic of Ireland Local Section’s Chemistry Wikithon event pulled together a diverse range of practicing chemists, and left a future legacy for promoting accuracy in a world of 'fake science'.

34 Interest Groups responded with descriptions of highly successful conferences and collaborations, some key highlights included:
  • The Toxicology Group biomonitoring meeting provided a welcome opportunity for the UK biomonitoring community to meet and share recent findings and good practice and a JISC group has evolved as a result.
  • For the Food Group, Plastics from Cradle to Grave and Resurrection was their best event based on high attendance and attendee feedback, which led to a second event planned for June 2020. The subject matter was also highly relevant to current and future challenges to food sectors and the environment.
  • The Photochemistry & Photophysics joint meeting with the Italian Photochemistry Group was an excellent event that received good feedback from those attending. This was the first time that the PPG had run a joint event with an equivalent national group from overseas. It was agreed by both groups that it was a success – initial discussions about a reciprocal meeting in the UK in 2022 have begun.
  • The Theoretical Chemistry Group highlighted their graduate student meeting as their "best" event, but not for the reason we expected. In short, this meeting gave the committee a direct insight that they needed to be much more pro-active in attaining gender balance at events going forwards. This has changed how the committee plan this event and will be a priority for TCG events organised from 2020 onwards.

What do we use this information for?
The information in the Annual Report is used:
  • to promote to existing and potential members the breadth and quality of our community-led activities,
  • to identify common challenges to develop bespoke training and resources for our committees, and
  • to demonstrate and report how our grants and networks are contributing to our charitable aims.
The 2019 Annual Report data was analysed by the Networks team and shared with Member Networks Committee and Member Communities Board in 2020. Summaries of the 2019 data for the Local Sections and Interest Groups have been attached below and will be shared on the respective member network websites.

What is new for 2020?
The 2019 Annual Report was submitted using an online form in an attempt to streamline the data collection process. However, you told us that you need a report form that can be shared among the committee to be updated and edited easily, and want to be able to see an overview of all of your activities at once.

In line with this feedback, we have created a new Annual Report form. This new form is an Excel spreadsheet with clear instructions and drop-down menus that will be easy for you to complete, while maintaining the integrity of the data collection process.

We asked for volunteers to test the form and we are making changes to the form based on their feedback and suggestions. The final version of the form will be circulated to committees in October.

What is the plan for 2021?
Once the 2020 Annual Report form has been circulated we will begin to make the necessary changes to prepare the 2021 report form so that we can circulate it to committees in January 2021 to allow them to be completed throughout the year.
Posted by Aurora Walshe on Oct 1, 2020 2:00 PM BST
Daniele Gibney, our Programme Manager for Curriculum, Qualifications and Assessment, has provided an update on our education policy activities and how you can get involved.

In the middle of an extraordinary and unsettling year for all of us, I’d like to share some things that we’re working on in the education policy team at the RSC. I manage our programme on curriculum and qualifications, and there has been plenty to keep on top of in that area alongside our ongoing projects.

Firstly, I want to tell you about an opportunity to get involved in a project related to higher technical education across the UK. If this is an area of interest to you, or if you have a broader interest in the development of technical skills for the chemical sciences, then read on. Other readers may want to skip to more general updates a few paragraphs down.


Help us influence the future of higher technical education

The contribution of technicians to the chemical sciences is vital; however, we’ve been hearing concerns about shortages of technical skills in the UK for many years. It’s therefore important that high quality education routes exist to help people gain those skills, and we want to be in a position to influence future reforms. The Government has big plans to improve the quality and uptake of higher technical qualifications – post-18 qualifications at levels 4 and 5 – in England. Currently, not many people take qualifications at that level in most of the UK (Scotland’s system is an interesting contrast); the numbers in subjects related to chemistry are particularly low.

To steer the future, we need to understand the present. Therefore, through Shift Membership, we are conducting a research project to understand experiences relating to current higher technical qualifications in chemistry and related subjects. The type of qualification we are looking at includes things like HNC/HNDs and Foundation Degrees, and we are looking across the UK. We want to understand the viewpoints of:
  • employers, including those involved in hiring or training employees for technician roles, including through apprenticeships; you don’t need to know much about any specific qualifications to offer valuable insight here
  • education providers, either currently or previously offering higher technical qualifications in this subject area, or who have considered offering them but decided against
  • learners currently studying, or who have recently studied, a relevant qualification.

Taking part involves a 40-minute interview, and you can express an interest through the links above. If you can’t take part yourself but know someone who might be interested, please spread the word.


Responding to covid-19 in education

Turning to other matters; as you can imagine, much of our year so far has involved understanding how the covid pandemic is affecting chemistry education. It is clear this is a difficult time for both educators and learners, with ongoing changes to regulations, uncertainty and the rise in case numbers bringing further challenges. If you are a teacher or lecturer, or are otherwise involved in education, thank you for all you are doing to provide a good learning experience in these circumstances.

Over the summer, we responded to a range of consultations to highlight issues we were seeing to decision makers. For example, we argued in favour of lightening the assessment load in secondary and post-16 qualifications in chemistry for the coming year, including reducing the range of content covered. This recognised that a significant proportion of learners saw interruptions to their learning during the lockdown period. We’re still awaiting final decisions on this in some regions, and of course arrangements may be further affected by developments over the winter; we’re keeping an eye on it.

That is just one of a long list of issues, ranging from primary to higher education. We’ll continue to monitor developments, honing in on areas where our subject is particularly affected and our voice can have an impact. Practical work in education setting is presenting particular challenges, which could have implications for skills development in the long term. We’re highlighting particular needs as they arise; for example we recently flagged to government officials that we are seeing supply issues with PPE for practical work such as safety specs and gloves.


A busy schedule in curriculum and qualifications

All this comes at an already busy time in education policy world. Alongside the higher technical qualifications review already mentioned, T-levels are being developed and rolled out in England, and as I write we are awaiting announcements that will influence the future of further and post-18 education. Curriculum reform is progressing in Wales, and with a consultation on approaches to new GCSEs due early next year. Reform is also the word in the Republic of Ireland, where a new Leaving Certificate in chemistry is on the way. In Scotland, the OECD are conducting a review of the Curriculum for Excellence. All these developments offer us the opportunity to advocate for chemistry education and supporting the development of valuable knowledge and skills for society and the chemical sciences.

To support our ability to do this, we have background projects on the go, of which the higher technical qualifications research is an example. There is also our ongoing work to develop a vision to underpin our curriculum influencing at all levels of education. Earlier this year we published our curriculum framework for ages 11–19. We have work on primary curriculum ongoing, and are developing thoughts around higher education. Following the recent publication of Digital Futures, we also want to think more about integrating digital skills in chemistry learning.

I hope you appreciate this glimpse into our world. If you have any questions about any of the above, or would like to share any experiences to inform our understanding, feel free to drop me a line.
Posted by Aurora Walshe on Oct 1, 2020 2:00 PM BST
Dear colleague,

Welcome to the October Networks Newsletter, our way to keep our member network committee members and representatives up to date with RSC activities, services and new initiatives.

This month’s Newsletter contains:
  • Upcoming Deadlines
  • Upcoming Events
  • Spotlight: Member network Annual Report: from 2019 to 2021
  • Communications from across the RSC
  • Latest updates on our policy work
Upcoming Deadlines
01 October
06 October
08 October
26 October
27 October
29 October
31 October
03 November
03 November
03 November
Deadline for Local Section and Interest Group Top-Up Fund applications
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 15 October to additional networks

Deadline for E-alerts going out on 15 October
Application deadline for the Outreach Fund small grants
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 5 November to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 5 November
Deadline for October Research Development Grant applications
Registration deadline for Air quality in megacities Faraday Discussion
Deadline for 2020 Research Fund applications
Deadline for applications to the Research Enablement Grant
Upcoming Events
01 October
05 October
06 October
13 October
13 October
15 October
20 October
20 October

22 October
27 October
05 November
Member e-alerts
RSC Desktop Seminar: RSC Advances Emerging Investigators, 4pm UK time
Environmental Science Desktop Seminar: Peter Vikesland, 4pm UK time
Faraday Discussion: Cooperative phenomena in framework materials
Environmental Science Desktop Seminar: Krista Wigginton, 4pm UK time
Member e-alerts
Environmental Science Desktop Seminar: Neil Donahue, 4pm UK time
Volunteering in Schools – best practice for RSC Members, 6.30pm UK time
RSC Desktop Seminar: Progress in singlet fission and photon upconversion, 1pm UK time
Environmental Science Desktop Seminar: Delphine Farmer, 4pm UK time
Member e-alerts
Spotlight: Member network Annual Report: from 2019 to 2021

More than half of all reported 2019 activities were organised by Local Sections in the UK and almost one in 5 of all 2019 member network events was organised by an international Local Section. In 2019 our Interest Groups held 86 half- or full-day scientific meetings and 51 multi-day meetings, catering to over 10,000 attendees. Our Interest Groups and Local Sections awarded 193 grants and bursaries and sponsored 53 events in 2019.

You can learn more about 2019 member network activities and the changes to the Annual Report for 2020 and 2021 in the full article on the Networks Newsletter blog.

Learn more about 2019 member network activities in the full blog article

Communications from across the RSC

Here are updates about events and activities from our Outreach, Careers, Events, International, and Research & Innovation teams, as well as the Chemists’ Community Fund and RSC Publishing.

The 2020 Annual Report form will be with committees this month
Thank you to all of you who volunteered to test the new Annual Report form!

We are making changes to the form based on your feedback and suggestions, the final version of the form will be circulated to committees in the next two weeks. Once the 2020 Annual Report form has been circulated we will begin to make the necessary changes to prepare the 2021 report form so that we can circulate it to committees in January 2021 to allow you to complete it throughout the year.

Data protection - a few quick reminders for committees
Following on from our data protection top tips for committees, here are some reminders about how you should handle member data.

What to do when a committee member leaves
If a committee member has recently left you should do the following to be compliant with data protection legislation:
  • Remove the ex-committee member’s contact details (e.g. email, address, phone numbers) from your records
  • Ask the ex-committee member to delete any contact details they have for committee members
What information is stored by the committee?
At your next committee meeting you can ask:
  • What information members of the committee hold and how it is stored (e.g. on a spreadsheet, memory stick, phone, etc.)
  • How is the information being protected? Do you have passwords, etc.?
  • Is anyone storing any other information (e.g. lists of delegate details from past events, etc.)? Is there a reason for storing old contact information or can it be deleted? Can you show how consent was given to hold this data?
You can use this record processing activity sheet to note all the data you store, how consent was gained and when it should be deleted.

Communicating with your members
If you want to send an email to your members you can:
  • Send an e-alert via the Networks team. The e-alerts go out twice a month, and can be sent to your own members and also other networks. The Networks Team will contact the secretaries of the other networks you wish to send the email to, and check they consent for their members to receive the email.
  • You can request the email data of your members from the RSC to send your own email. You will need to complete a data protection form. You must delete the data after six weeks and use blind copy on a bulk email so the email addresses are not visible to others in the list. You cannot share this email data with anyone else. If you receive any emails requesting to be removed from the mailing list please forward these to the Networks team.
  • Maintain your own mailing list. Some networks maintain their own mailing list, but they must complete a Compliance Checklist document. The checklist ensures the RSC is kept informed, explains where the data is stored and how it is being used etc. For a Compliance Checklist, please contact our Membership team.
Awards and grants
With the onset of the pandemic you might not be giving away as many awards or grants this year, but you will still need to consider data protection in your processes! Once the award is given you should delete any contact details (e.g. email, address, phone numbers, etc.) for anyone who applied.

If you have any data protection questions please contact the Networks team

Two new grants to support our community during COVID-19
We have developed two new grants to help members during the current circumstances:
  • Our new Research Enablement Grants give up to £10,000 to members in the UK and Republic of Ireland to initiate new research directions or to complete research disrupted by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:
  • Our new Research Development Grants of up to £250 provide PhD students and post-doctoral researchers support for activities to develop a broad set of skills to further their research careers, including (but not limited to) registration for a virtual conference or funding towards organising an online meeting:

Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants
We are pleased to share the RSC has been able to continue with the extended purpose of our Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants schemes to include:
  • Extra equipment that may be needed to work from home and/or home-school those you care for (maximum £500 total cost)
  • Specific assistance or support needed to attend an online meeting, conference, workshop, professional development or teaching responsibility as restrictions ease
Eligibility criteria are available on the funding webpages.

Sponsor the 2021 #RSCPoster Twitter Conference
#RSCPoster is the RSC’s flagship virtual event, pioneering the virtual conference field and bringing together the global chemistry community to network and share their research and engage in scientific debate.

The conference is held online via Twitter for 24 hrs each March, with the 2020 instalment attracting around 800 posters from 59 countries, 4700 attendees and reaching a potential audience of over 32 million. The conference spans the chemical sciences, with participation from disciplines across the field of chemistry and at every career stage.

We’re currently looking for sponsors for the 2021 event – if any interest groups are interested in sponsorship opportunities, please click on the button to contact the team!

Talk to the #RSCPoster team about sponsorship opportunities by 1 November

Commonwealth Chemistry survey for early career chemists
We need your help to support us with shaping the future of chemistry: we are looking for early career chemists from Commonwealth countries to tell us about training and funding, working environment, career progression, networks and collaborations.

We want to uncover the challenges, needs, and opportunities that early career chemists are facing; this feedback will be used to influence the strategy and direction of the Commonwealth Chemistry. Please complete the survey if you are eligible, and please share this survey with early career chemists in your area.

To encourage participation and show our appreciation, everyone who completes the survey can enter our prize draw to win a £100 Amazon voucher. Three winners will be selected at random and announced in November.

Complete and share the survey by 14 November:

Chemistry Week 2020: ‘Inclusion’
16 – 22 November 2020

Chemistry Week is an annual celebration of the chemical sciences. This year we are encouraging member groups to help celebrate the theme of ‘Inclusion’. This is in recognition of the shift in nature of events that many groups have had to make during this time and the additional factors that need to be taken into consideration to run inclusive events, whether that supports members directly or reaches out to public and school audiences.

We want to support you with any activities and events you may have planned for Chemistry Week, from inspiring the next generation to celebrating the diversity of chemistry within our community. Grants for activities are still available through the Outreach Fund, the deadline for applications in October as been extended to Monday 26th October.

Talk to the Outreach team if you have any Chemistry Week questions

Latest issue of Analytical Matters now available online
Find out about the latest Analytical Division activities including:
  • Opportunities to network at the Analytical Division Symposia
  • New Council members
  • 2020 Analytical Division award winners
  • CPD Resources including the latest AMC Technical Briefs
If you have any items you wish to be included in the next newsletter please email by 31 October 2020.

Read the latest issue here

Latest updates on our policy work

With a programme of activities spanning research funding, mobility of scientists, open access, chemicals regulation, teacher supply, curriculum and much more, our goal is to shape the development of policy relevant to the chemical sciences.

Help us influence developments in post-18 technical education
We have an opportunity for you to help shape our policy work in technical education. We’re looking for research participants who would be happy to take part in a 40-minute interview, and would love to hear from people with the following viewpoints:
  • employers, especially if you are involved in hiring or training employees for technician roles. You don’t need to be very familiar with post-18 technical qualifications.
  • educators, if you currently offer, used to offer or have considered offering post-18 technical qualifications in subjects related to chemistry.
Technicians and the skills they bring are vital to the chemical sciences. We want to influence future developments in relevant education routes. This research will help us understand the current qualification landscape: are existing qualifications recognised by employers, attractive to providers and appealing to learners? How do they prepare learners for entering the workplace or further study?

The research is being conducted on our behalf by Shift Membership. You can express an interest as an employer or an education provider, or find out more on the Networks Newsletter blog.

Read the blog article to learn more about this project and our broader education policy activities

Thank you for reading!

The Networks Newsletter is sent to all member network committee members as a dynamic newsletter with tailored content, this is the full version. Please get in touch with suggestions for what you would like included or feedback about what we've sent you!

Send us your feedback

Kind regards,

The Networks Team
Fiona, Aurora and Debbie

Posted by Aurora Walshe on Oct 1, 2020 2:00 PM BST