Research Networks perform essential roles within the ESA. They constitute the main forum for sociological advancement and debate within the various specialist areas within European sociology. Research Networks provide a key role in organising a programme of paper sessions and other events at the biennial ESA conference, and organise mid-term conferences and other network activities between conferences. The following guidelines are intended to assist the work of Research Network boards. These guidelines are to be read in conjunction with the ESA statutes, as well as the by-laws.
(1) Structure and organisation
(i) Each Research Network should have a Coordinator and vice-coordinator elected at the business meeting at an ESA conference for a two-year term. Ideally the newly elected coordinator should previously have been a member of the RN board, so that they are familiar with the workings of the RN. There should also be a board of at least 5 members (including coordinator and vice-coordinator). Ideally the board should represent a diversity of backgrounds in terms of gender, geography, seniority etc. Board members should have clearly defined roles, e.g. Secretary/Treasurer/Webmaster, Newsletter Editor etc. It is recommended to form committees for more complex tasks, such as a conference programme committee or publication committee. Board members work as local representatives in their country and establish links to institutions and to colleagues working in the same field of research. As too large boards may result in diffuse responsibilities and general inactivity, RNs are encouraged to restrict the board to a group of active members and include additional persons in the form of an advisory board (e.g. colleagues from additional countries, honorary members, representatives of the PhD group or of other international networks with close relationships to the ESA Research Network).
(ii) A Business Meeting should be held at each biennial ESA conference. The invitation and agenda for the business meeting should be circulated in advance, so that RN members who will not be present at the conference have the opportunity to comment or make suggestions.
(iii) The Network Coordinator, other named officers and board members are elected at the Business Meeting held at the biennial ESA conference to serve for a two year term. Networks are encouraged to consider which electoral process to use before the business meeting takes place.
(iv) As is stated in the ESA Statutes, ‘on an ideal level, the co-ordinator, vice-coordinator and board serve for a maximum period of two consecutive terms of two years’. This is meant to facilitate rejuvenation and succession of board members, guarantee diversity and hence encourage dynamic and active boards. Succession should be taken into consideration when inviting and recruiting new board members, and should be discussed as long-term objective at the Business Meeting. At the same time, RNs are encouraged to retain institutional memory by inviting previous board members to maintain contact with the RN, either as individual ESA member or as member of an advisory board.
(v) All board members must be ESA members in good standing, and formal members of their Research Network.
(2) Role of RNs at ESA Conferences
The Research Network Coordinator, in cooperation with the RN board, is responsible for contributing to the programme of each ESA conference. This involves:
(i) Sending out a call for papers (including in the ESA newsletter) and receiving abstracts.
(ii) Selection of abstracts through the ESA conference tool.
(iii) Organising the accepted abstracts into a thematically organised programme of paper sessions.
(iv) Assigning Chairs to each paper session and notifying the LOC.
(v) Liaising with the conference organisation team about all aspects of the RN programme of paper sessions.
(vi) Liaising with the conference organisation team about additional events (co-)organised by the RN, such as semi-plenaries, mid-term sessions etc.
(3) Biennial RN reports to the ESA
The Research Network must send a report on their activities to the Chair of the Research Networks Committee every two years. The report should be received within two months of the biennial ESA conference, and include:
(i) A list of the names and contact details of the Coordinator, other named officer(s) and board members that were elected at the Business Meeting, and of those who were in post over the preceding 2 years.
(ii) A brief report on RN paper sessions and other activities undertaken at the conference.
(iii) A brief report on other RN activities undertaken over the two years preceding the ESA conference, e.g. any RN midterm conferences, seminars or workshops held, publishing or other dissemination activities, number of issues of newsletters produced, etc. A financial statement is to be included (see section 5.vii below).
(iv) ESA provides a template for the biennial report that can be downloaded from the website.
(4) Activities of RNs between Conferences
It is recommended that Research Networks develop mechanisms for facilitating continuing contact and intellectual interchange between members of their RN between conferences, for example:
(i) Establishing an email discussion list for Research Network members, and circulating relevant information through the email list.
(ii) Featuring and updating their RN website on the ESA homepage. If a RN has its own website it must be linked to the main ESA website. In addition, the ESA website should contain the most relevant information, too, in order to secure the institutional memory of this association.
(iii) Establishing an RN Newsletter that can be downloaded from the website, or circulated to the RN membership by email.
(iv) Organising a midterm RN Conference, PhD seminars or other activities.
(v) Publishing an edited book or Special Issue of a journal, e.g. based on papers presented at an ESA conference or midterm Conference.
(5) Financial support for Research Network
The ESA offers financial support to fund RN activities.
(i) To support a midterm conference, which should not be held within 6 months of an ESA conference.
(ii) To apply for funding, the Research Network should send a proposal (including a detailed budget for the use of the requested funds) to the Chair of the RN Committee, cc ESA secretariat. Requests for support for a RN midterm conference should be sent at least two months prior to a planned conference.
(iii) A mandatory template for applications is provided that can be downloaded from the ESA website. The use of the budget template is optional but recommended.
(iv) To be eligible, a RN must be in good standing (i.e. have provided the biennial report, including the final use of ESA funds at the last midterm conference).
(v) On the basis of its financial situation, the Executive Committee decides for each term how many funds for RN support can be allocated. Applications for funding are evaluated jointly by the Chair of the Research Network Council and the other members of the Executive Committee. Criteria to evaluate applications include (see Art. 4.4 in the suggested by-laws):
• Clarity of the application
• Relevance of the theme of the planned event to ESA members
• Proportionality between planned event and planned budget
• Compliance with ‘eligible expenses’ requirements
• Provision of discount for conference fee (if applicable) for ESA members.
(vi) ESA funding can be used towards a range of expenses related to the organisation of academic events, including e.g. room rental, keynote travel and accommodation, costs for printing and equipment, travel subsidies for selected participants. Catering can also be included, provided that it covers mainly basic items such as tea/coffee and lunch. The RN committee retains the right to suggest budget changes before approval. RNs are encouraged to take administrative overhead costs into consideration when deciding on the location for their event.
(vii) The RN treasurer should prepare a detailed financial statement as part of the biennial report. This statement should include an overview of the funds that have been received from ESA, how they have been spent, and where possible surplus funds are located. RNs are expected to retain the receipts for expenses covered by ESA funding for 10 years.
(6) Research Networks that are no longer active
Where a Research Network does not organise any paper sessions at an ESA biennial conference without bringing forward good reasons, it will be deemed inactive. Research Network members will be encouraged to be active at the following ESA conference and to elect a new Coordinator and other officer(s). If a Research Network does not organise any paper sessions for two consecutive ESA conferences, the Research Network will normally be considered to have ceased to exist by the ESA.
Background to these guidelines
As has been communicated at the RN Coordinators Meeting in Lisbon in September 2009, the Executive Committee has decided to introduce formal membership of RNs. To become and stay a member of a RN one must be an ESA member in good standing (having payed the biennial contribution) and pay an additional RN membership fee of 10 Euros for two years. This RN membership fees are transferred to the RNs together with any additional funding once in a 2 year term (to reduce administrative costs); they can be used by the RNs according to their own preferences. To keep the status of a RN it must have at least 25 members. Each ESA member may become a member of several RNs if s/he wishes so.
Guidelines agreed by the ESA Research Network Council on 29 August 2017 (revisions by Laura Horn, with input from Kathrin Komp (ESA Executive Committee) and Research Networks). ESA Executive Committee, 14 May 2010. Thomas S. Eberle, Consuelo Corradi and Ellen Kuhlmann. (Revision of the original guidelines from Sara Arber, Ilona Ostner and Tuula Gordon on 25th October 2004, who took up a proposal from Margareta Bertilsson (Vice President, Research Network, 2001 – 2003).)
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