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 March, 2020
Dear colleague,

Welcome to the 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: Public engagement - know your audience!
  • Communications from across the RSC
  • Latest updates on our policy work
Upcoming Deadlines
10 March
12 March
24 March

26 March
01 April
07 April
09 April
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 19 March to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 19 March
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 2 April to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 2 April
Deadline for Local Section and Interest Group Top-Up Fund applications

Deadline for E-alerts going out on 16 April to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 16 April
Upcoming Events
3-4 March
05 March
19 March
02 April 2020
16 April 2020

7-9 July
29-30 September
#RSCPoster Twitter Conference
Member e-alerts
Member e-alerts

Member e-alerts
Member e-alerts

2019 Member Networks Conference
2nd Chemical Science symposium: How can machine learning and autonomy accelerate chemistry?
Spotlight: Public engagement - know your audience!

What is "public engagement"? What works? What doesn't?

This month Hassun Zafar, our Public Engagement Officer, talks to us about the importance of knowing your audience when planning public engagement activities. This is the first in a series of articles to help you create, plan, and evaluate new ideas to interact with members of the public.

Read the full article on the Networks Newsletter blog, and if you have any questions or suggestions for public engagement activities please let Hassun know!

Read Hassun's article about knowing your audienceRead Hassun's first
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.

New expense form for member expenses
We've recently updated the form members and non-members use to claim expenses. You can download the form by clicking on the link below or from the Useful Forms and Documents page:

Download the new expense form here

#RSCPoster Twitter Conference – starts 3 March, 12:00 UTC
The conference that anyone can attend!

The #RSCPoster Twitter Conference is an annual event that has become a staple on many scientific community calendars.

Held entirely online over 24 hours, the unique format removes the environmental and financial costs of attending a traditional conference, and helps scientific researchers share their work and network across disciplines, wherever they are in the world.

Last year, more than 3,000 researchers took part, and posters and conversations were seen by over 2 million people around the world. This year you can submit a poster in one of 12 subject areas, from analytical chemistry to engineering. Posters win prizes if chosen by the subject chairs.

Search #RSCPoster on Twitter tomorrow and join in!

Find your hashtag and get involved on 3 March

Member Networks Conference 2020
All committee Secretaries have received details of this year’s conference along with a request for the following information by 1 April 2020:
  • The name of the delegate who has agreed to represent your committee at the conference.
  • Any subjects you would like to discuss with relevant staff – events, legal, communications, etc.
  • Any issues you would like to be raised during the Interest Group Forum, the Local Sections meeting or the Analytical Division Regions meeting.
We would like to highlight that the Grants for Carers and the Assistance Grants are available to support attendance at this event so please do bear this in mind when discussing availability to represent your committee.

Chemists’ Community Fund Workshops
The Chemists’ Community Fund organise ‘Improve Your Understanding of Wellbeing and Resilience’ and ‘Retirement in Sight’ workshops around the UK for RSC members.

To find out more, or to book a place on one of these free workshops, please go to:

Please do promote these workshops to anyone that you think would be interested in attending.

If you would like to host one of these workshops in your local section then please do get in touch with the Fund team on

International Conference on Chemistry Education
Cape Town, South Africa, 13-17 July 2020

The 26th IUPAC International Conference on Chemistry Education (ICCE 2020) is jointly organised by chemistry educators from the 4 local universities, with support from universities in South Africa.

The conference will be organised around the theme of a 2020 vision of chemistry education and for the first time ever, there will be a Physical Sciences Teachers’ Day, on the 17th of July, as part of the conference. To support teachers without funding to attend this, we have provided sponsorship for bursaries through the ‘Sponsor a Teacher’ initiative to enable teachers to attend.

The themes of the Congress can be found here and abstract submission is open until 16 March.

Learn more on the Events Database

Introducing Materials Advances
A new gold open access journal from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Free to read and free to publish in for the first 2 years, the research in this journal will build on and complement the materials content already published across the Royal Society of Chemistry journal portfolio.

Jointly led by JMC A, B & C editors-in-chief Anders Hagfeldt, (EPFL, Switzerland), Jeroen Cornelissen, (University of Twente, the Netherlands) and Natalie Stingelin, (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA), our experienced JMC associate editors will also handle submissions to Materials Advances. This ensures a consistent approach and streamlining the assessment process for authors and reviewers.

Read more about Materials Advances

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.

New Global Talent visa open
The new Global Talent visa is now open, replacing the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. The new visa route allows successful applicants to work in the UK and is granted for a period of up to five years at a time without a sponsor or entry requirements such as language tests and minimum salary thresholds.

Learn more about the visa programme here

Updated RSC position statement on Open Access and Plan S
In 2018 a coalition of research funders, including UKRI and Wellcome Trust, expressed their commitment to Plan S, an approach to achieving Open Access. Informed by our roles as a learned society publisher and as a voice for the chemical sciences community, and drawing on evidence from our activities to amplify the voice of researchers, we developed a position statement on Plan S. The statement will inform our response to the UKRI Open Access Review Consultation that was launched recently.

Read our position statement here

A Chemicals Strategy for a Sustainable Chemicals Revolution
The RSC has published a new document ahead of Defra launching its consultation in the spring on a new Chemicals Strategy for the UK as part of the 25 year plan for the environment. We are advocating that the evolution of the strategy develops around four core pillars: education, innovation, circular economy and regulation.

Read our sustainable chemicals strategy here

Thank you for reading!

This Newsletter has been tailored to you, but the full version can be found on the Networks Newsletter blog. Please read the online version and get in touch with suggestions for what you would like included or feedback about what we've sent you!

Kind regards,

The Networks Team
Fiona, Aurora and Debbie

Posted by Aurora Walshe on Mar 2, 2020 3:00 PM GMT
This month sees the first in a series of articles from Hassun El-Zafar, our Public Engagement Officer, telling us about the importance of knowing your audience when planning public engagement activities. If you’d like to get in touch or share your thoughts with Hassun you can find him on Twitter @HassunElZafar or email at Unfortunately, since leaving the North, he is unable to take messages via Owls or Ravens.  

We all love public engagement. Or, at least, we all should love public engagement. After all, what’s not to love about the idea that contemporary, boundary-pushing and pioneering research is made accessible for the public, rather than being known only to an exclusive pocket of research, academic or industry experts?

Over the past seven months, I’ve had the privilege to lead on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s public engagement activities. It’s been a phenomenal ride in which I’ve been able to meet, connect and work with many fantastic individuals and organisations across the UK and world. And by doing so I’ve being able to have some honest reflections on the impact of mainstream public engagement in science, particularly in the chemical sciences.

Before I delve into these reflections, it’s worth mentioning that prior to my post here at the Royal Society of Chemistry, I worked as a secondary science teacher and ran several outreach programmes in numerous inner-city areas across south Yorkshire. I was the type of teacher who’d voluntarily run STEAM clubs, science weeks, and organise informal extra-curricular events for students and parents to meet with STEAM industry and research experts. And yes, I was unapologetically that science teacher who’d find any excuse to do the biggest, most colourful and impressive science demonstrations. 

I believed then, as I do now, in Maya Angelou’s beautiful quote in which she states that ‘people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’. I think this quote helps build a metaphorical scaffold for my reflection, and a link to the grander overview of science engagement. After all, there is, and probably never will be, one singular viewpoint of how science engagement is best done. But I’d like to think that we could all at least agree that if an audience feels bored, condescended to or intimidated by our approaches, then something needs to change.

On that note, here’s the beginning of my five-part blog (I promised to not overdo them like the Fast and Furious movies!) where I’ll share my thoughts on public engagement. I’d love to hear from you too! You can get in touch via Twitter @HassunElZafar and email

Blog One: Know Your Audience
Let me set the scene.
I’m at my desk in the RSC offices with a fair trade banana and Yorkshire Tea cuppa by my side.
The phone rings.
I answer enthusiastically, and it’s our keen member Tim (not a real person). He’s got a fantastic idea to engage the general public with climate science (#ClimateActionNow) and would like us to support his idea with £10,000, a room in Burlington House on a weekday evening, and some complimentary wine and canapés (yummy!).
I listen attentively to the plans that feature invited high-profile university professors, PhD students, and international industry experts delivering seminars and lectures throughout the evening. When he’s finished I ask one simple question… “Who’s the target audience, Tim?”
“Oh, it’s a free event, anyone can attend! So the general public!”
“But you’re inviting 56 people in a venue which has a capacity of 60…”

I must reiterate in the strongest way possible that this is not a real incident, but it is based on bucket loads of interactions I’ve had.

Knowing your audience is important. Being honest about who your audience is is even more important. As the head of one of the largest science festivals once told us, “the majority of people at Comic Con are most likely comic fans, and the majority of people at a mainstream science festival are most likely science fans. We should embrace that and use it to inform practise, rather than shying away and pretending to do something which we’re not”. These words hit a chord. Perhaps public engagement doesn’t have a right or wrong audience (because all humans, including scientists, are part of the public after all), but good public engagement does have a specific audience, which it aims to have an impact towards.

Here’s a little activity: next time we’re about to do a public engagement activity/event/campaign, write down who the target audience is, and try to be as specific as possible. Common terms such as “high science cultural capital” and “young people” are popular, but are actually pretty vague. For example, the term "young people" can encompass anyone aged 0-35 (and that’s being harsh on anyone over 35…) and in that group you have toddlers, primary children, KS3 students, GCSE students, A-level students, undergraduates, post-graduates, postdocs, PhD students, “young working professionals”, young backpackers, young tourists, “the science museum's lates date audience” or more broadly speaking, the total of approximately 32 million people in the UK alone.

The more specific the target audience, the more tailored the activity will be to meet their needs, which means the activity will probably be more impactful in shaping perceptions, advancing understanding and changing behaviours (trust me, I was rated outstanding by OFSTED for a reason).

Now, there may be some people reading this with the thought that I’m wrong, and that something like a “one size fits all” approach can work. It probably does to some extent. I mean, there’s a reason why millions of people still watch TEDx videos, right? But even then, the best TEDx speakers know their audience (Donovan, 2012).

Subsequently, knowing your audience is great, but in the next blog I’m going to argue that it may not be enough. Should we be moving away from a model where we create for an audience to a model we create with an audience?

Posted by Aurora Walshe on Mar 2, 2020 2:05 PM GMT