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 May, 2020
This month in the Spotlight Dr Michael Cowley from the University of Edinburgh has put together a guide for members who want to set up an online seminar series. You can find Michael’s Information for Speakers attached to this article, and additional resources available from the Networks team below. You can contact Dr Cowley through the Main Group Seminar website or via

In normal circumstances, spring brings with it the beginning of the annual chemistry “conference circuit”, but this year, it has been clear for some time now, will be an exception. Chemists around the world are restricted from travelling, separated from their laboratories, and in many cases – for the moment – confined to their homes. One response to this situation has been a surge in online scientific seminars, which can enable scientific discourse to continue whilst we remain physically apart.

On the 2nd of April, I launched the Main Group Seminars online seminar series. At the time of writing we have held two seminars (2nd and 9th April) and engagement with the seminar series from the community has been excellent – altogether, 372 people viewed our first seminar, 386 the second, and we have 300 people registered to attend every seminar in the series! Audience members include chemists from around the UK (approx. 66%), Europe (particularly Germany, Spain, Italy, and France), the USA, Canada, India, China, Japan and Australia.

This guide provides some suggestions based on experience gained during the process of launching the main-group seminar series, and hopefully it will help if you are thinking about launching a similar programme.


Identify your aims

Before deciding anything (name, format, frequency, target audience, target size) think about why you want to run a seminar series online. What do you want to achieve? Which scientific community (or communities) do you want to bring together? Do you want to showcase early- career scientists, or promote your field to other chemists using leading scientists (or both)? Or do you want a small discussion-focused series that will bring together two related fields to generate new collaborations and ideas? Your goals will inform what you decide about implementation.

In my case, I wanted to arrange a series of seminars that would help sustain (a part of) the chemistry community through a period when planned conferences have been cancelled, departmental seminar series suspended, and even research groups cannot meet in person. The aim of the series is to bring together the main-group community, but also to showcase our scientific sub-discipline to chemists beyond it. Chemists who would not ordinarily take an interest in main-group chemistry could be converted, whilst their attention was easier to capture (because they are stuck indoors).


Work with an interest group, or at least involve others in your decision making

The main-group seminar series was supported from very early in its inception by the RSC main-group chemistry interest group. I was able to get agreement for a small amount of funding to support the seminar series.

Perhaps even more valuable than the financial support was the knowledge, contacts and support of the members of the interest group committee. The committee were involved in discussions on format and timing of the seminars (in our case, during ‘work hours’ in the working week). Most importantly, speaker selection decisions were together with the committee.

It was essential to have more than one voice in this process to get a scientifically, and otherwise, diverse set of speakers.


Move quickly

There is an advantage to be gained by launching your seminar series quickly – you have a captive (or at least self-isolated) audience at the moment, and relatively few competitors. Don’t wait until you have out a full programme together to launch your seminar series! We’re in a fluid situation at the moment, so it is best to act quickly and respond as the situation changes. You can launch your seminar series with only the first one or two events scheduled.

Remember, you don’t have to publish or publicise your full schedule until it’s finalised.


Publicise widely

Use channels like a website, the RSC events database, email lists, and social media to publicise your seminar series. In our case we know that about half of the registrants come via Twitter, about a third via the website (which they probably find using Twitter), and the remainder from email lists like the JISC inorganic chemistry mailing list.


Logistics and software

We use zoom to host our seminars ( The cost to hold seminars with a cap of 500 on the audience is approximately £150 a month. The service is reliable and provides excellent features surrounding registration and recording of viewers and user numbers etc. (so you can see who your audience is).

Please note: If you decide to use Zoom you will need to have the terms and conditions checked by the RSC legal team – contact the Networks team ( for more information.

You should also consider using the GoToWebinar account that the RSC has made available to member networks (for free) for hosting webinars for up to 500 people. Booking this service can be done at, and you should contact for more information.



Our format includes one 40 minute talk, and one 20 minute talk. We aim to have one established speaker and one early career (which can be anything from a recently independent academic through to a PhD student) in each seminar.

We have found that the shorter format for talks works better online – it’s harder for speakers to hold the audience’s attention from ‘inside’ a computer. Speakers also report their experience as being ‘flatter’ than normal without a physically present audience to respond to. Lastly, we are finding that with such large audiences – and perhaps a less intimidating atmosphere – there are substantial numbers of people wanting to ask questions after each talk, so the shorter talks serve to allow for that.


Consider making a recording available after the event

You should consider making a recording of your seminar available for a short period after the event. This will allow scientists in other time zones to access your seminar series, but just as importantly will also allow those who have other personal or professional commitments preventing them from attending ‘live’ to engage with your seminars.

In our experience speakers are relaxed about this and happy to allow it – and everyone so far has presented unpublished work.



Like so much of this guide, this is perhaps self-evident, but do do a dry-run with the speakers and the software and a ‘trial’ audience (I used my research group) before you hold your first event.


Resources and support from the Networks team

The Networks team are here to support you!

As mentioned above, there is a dedicated GoToWebinar account that is free to use for member networks. You can book your GoToWebinar here and find a user guide here. Please contact if you would like to know more about GoToWebinar or GoToMeeting.

You can promote your event to your members using the monthly e-alerts. Simply complete an e-alert request form and send it to

If you want some tips about getting started on social media to promote your seminars, you can watch our recent social media training webinars, or download the slides and FAQs from our Useful Forms and Documents page.
Posted by Aurora Walshe on May 1, 2020 11:00 AM BST
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.

COVID-19 and isolation measures require different ways of working, we have made changes to our programmes and activities to continue to provide the support you need. If you want to know more about anything contained in this month's newsletter, or have suggestions for ways to support our community, please let us know.

This month’s Newsletter contains:
  • Upcoming Deadlines
  • Upcoming Events
  • Spotlight: Launching an online seminar series
  • Communications from across the RSC
  • Latest updates on our policy work
Upcoming Deadlines
11 May
12 May
14 May
26 May
28 May
01 June
09 June
11 June
Close of applications for Outreach Fund
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 21 May to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 21 May
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 4 June to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 4 June

Close of call for nominations for the 2020 Journal of Materials Chemistry Lectureship
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 18 June to additional networks
Deadline for E-alerts going out on 18 June
Upcoming Events
07 May
14 May

21 May
21 May
04 June
18 June
Member e-alerts
Chemists' Community Fund Curing Your Finances Webinar
Member e-alerts
Mental health webinar: Kindness – Building a better chemistry culture
Member e-alerts
Member e-alerts
Spotlight: Launching an online seminar series

The Main Group Chemistry Group have recently launched a highly successful online seminar series showcasing different early career and established scientists every fortnight.

Dr Michael Cowley from the University of Edinburgh has put together a guide for members who want to set up a similar online seminar or webinar series to support their community while following advice of social distancing measures.

Read the guide on the Networks Newsletter blog, and if you have any questions you can contact Dr Cowley through the the Main Group Seminar website or via

Read Dr Cowley's guide to launching an online seminar series here

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 chemical sciences’ COVID-19 response
Can you help the chemical sciences’ COVID-19 response, or do you need support from us or other organisation to overcome challenges posed by the crisis? We have collated information and resources on how you can help and where to find support. This information is updated regularly as new opportunities arise and additional support becomes available, keep an eye on our social media channels as well for the latest updates.

We are also recognising the chemical science community’s role in our response to COVID-19. We’ll be sharing your stories, and we want you to share more with us - either by email at, or using the hashtag #ChemVSCovid on social media.

Can you help the COVID-19 response?

Find support from us or others

Extending our Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and following a consultation with our community we are very pleased to announce that we are extending the purpose of our Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants schemes.

The primary purpose of these schemes is to help you to attend a chemistry-related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event by covering the cost of care that you usually provide or specific assistance or support that you require.

However, we are now also accepting applications to cover the cost of:
  • any extra equipment you may need to work from home and/or home-school those you care for (maximum £500 total cost)
  • care that you usually provide whilst you attend an online meeting, conference, workshop, professional development or teaching responsibility.
Please note, where appropriate, it is expected that you have already approached your employer and other sources for the related funds are not available.

For further information please see our webpages:

Our Outreach Fund remains open and welcome to applications
Our Outreach Fund provides financial support to members, individuals and organisations in order to enable them to run chemistry-based public and schools engagement activities.
We recognise that during this period the nature of projects and delivery mechanisms may need to be revised and that individuals and organisations may choose to use this period to either reflect and evaluate current activity or develop new initiatives. In response to this and the changing needs of the community we are relaxing our restrictions to funding, in particular those costs associated with salary and freelancers fees. In addition, to lower barriers to funding we are increasing the upper limit of the small grant scheme to £5,000 and moving to consider applications for small grants on a monthly basis, our first deadline is Monday 11 May.

Please visit our website for further details on applying during this period or get in touch with the team.

Learn more about the updated eligibility, criteria and restrictions here

Chemists’ Community Fund – Covid-19 Support
The Chemists’ Community Fund (the benevolent fund for RSC members) have seen a significant increase in enquiries for support over the past month. If current events are having a negative financial impact for any member that you know, please do share the below contact details with them.

While we recognise that the support we can offer will be limited, we may be able to offer financial support to members and their families at this challenging time.

The Fund offers a completely confidential service. Please get in touch by phoning +44 (0)1223 432227, or by emailing us at

Learn more about support from the Chemists’ Community Fund

Career and Professional Development team – here to help in uncertain times
In these unprecedented days some of you will be anxious about job stability, dealing with your career being on hold, or facing a redundancy situation. The RSC Careers Team is running a near-normal service to members so do get in touch if there’s anything you’d like to talk about regarding your job, your professional development, or simply coping with an uncertain professional future. There’s more information about our services online and you can email us at

We are offering one-to-one career consultations by phone, Skype and Zoom to Associates, Members and Fellows, so do get in touch if you’d like to book, or if there’s anything else we can help with.

See how the Career and Professional Development team can help you

Chemists’ Community Fund – Curing your Finances Webinar
The Chemists’ Community Fund is supporting a webinar to assist RSC members with information to help their personal finances at this challenging time.

Even before the Coivid-19 pandemic, 60% of us worried about money and paying bills. Sadly, this is likely to continue as job insecurity and confusion over money increases.

The one-hour ‘Curing Your Finances’ webinar on 14th May at 1pm will be hosted by Better with Money. It aims to help members during this uncertain time with information on what they may need to think on a variety of matters including:
  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards and loans
  • Overdrafts
  • Savings
  • Pensions, investments and insurances
Register using the below, or for any questions please get in touch by emailing us at

Register to attend the Curing your Finances Webinar

Webinar for Mental Health Awareness Week
Registration is now open for the first of a monthly webinar series by the Royal Society of Chemistry and Chemistry World to support the chemical sciences community in response to and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindness – Building a better chemistry culture
Thursday 21 May 2020 at 3:30–4:30 pm BST

This new webinar series is launching during Mental Health Awareness Week (
MHAW, 18–24 May) and will first highlight the MHAW theme of kindness. Throughout the themes in the series, we will illuminate the science behind the issues being experienced and provide support tailored to the needs of chemical scientists including sharing coping strategies and reducing stigma around mental health and wellbeing.

Register for the first of our mental health webinars here

Online support for teachers
Are you a teacher? Join your Education Coordinators as they deliver live online sessions to support you to teach from home. There are lots of different sessions designed for primary and for secondary teachers, including some that look at specific resources that can be given to your students to support their learning at home, and others that provide opportunities to speak to other teachers and share ideas.

There are new sessions each week, so have a look at the timetable and join us soon. We also welcome your suggestions for topics by email to

Explore this week’s sessions

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.

Review of the impact of Covid-19 on doctoral candidates and early career researchers in the UK
Vitae has teamed up with the UKRI-funded Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN) to conduct research into the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the working lives and wellbeing of doctoral researchers and research staff.

From the first 1,000 responses, over 90% have commented on the challenges they face, while half have also commented on benefits from the lockdown.

The findings could be used to inform institutional policies for meeting the needs of these groups during the current and future public health crises.

Please forward the survey to doctoral candidates and early career researchers in your organisation or networks so that they can complete the survey by Sunday 3 May.

Learn about the survey and methodology 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!

Send us your feedback

As you know, the RSC offices are closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that the Networks team are all working from home for the time being. Please know that we are still available by email and phone and are working hard to support you during these uncertain times.

Once again, we would like to encourage all of you to please abide by your local guidelines and stay safe.

Kind regards,

The Networks Team
Fiona, Aurora and Debbie

Posted by Aurora Walshe on May 1, 2020 11:00 AM BST