Hi all


I’ve been watching this debate with interest, and I’d like to add in the perspective of a member and a regional coordinator (Qld).


Firstly, I do see the conference as incredibly useful, even those ones that I’ve not been able to attend, due to the networks they continue to generate and strengthen within the ASC. Personally I’m happy to see my fees used to making sure they happen as I see the conference as a major event for science communicators in Australia. Yes, it’s a cost, but one I judge as worthwhile.


Secondly, I think this has been a good debate (fiery at times), but maybe it will get more people involved. I see the ASC and this list as absolutely critical to this field. I came to the sci comm field as a result of attending ASC events, and networking with ASC folk over the years.


As I see it, one problem with ANY organisations run by volunteers is that there are often a few dedicated people who end up doing the vast majority of the work, and many who don’t get involved. Maybe it’s the way people are wired? I’m not sure. We probably need a psychologist to chip in on that one.


But there are also many people ready to stand there and criticise, rather than stand up and help, and change things to being the way that they espouse. In Queensland we have a similar situation to nationally where we are told of events that people want to see happen, yet struggle to get people to step up and get involved in organising. I’m not blaming anyone, as everyone’s busy. But then we get back to that old chestnut…


Lastly, I think the ASC fee is more than reasonable, and realistically is only really an admin fee. ‘Professional organisations’ such as those mentioned today have fees of several hundred dollars a year, and many have the staff and resources to deal with some of the issues mentioned (including developing codes of conduct etc). In voluntary organisations, it often relies on a few dedicated people to develop those things. I’d still like to see this happen within ASC, and I think it probably will. Eventually.


Many of us on this list are members of the AJA/MEAA, and they provide the sorts of things that people might be looking for in terms of representation or advice about ethics for now, albeit for a much larger fee!


For me though, ASC is a great organisation doing a wonderful job on scant resources, and I think it’s probably the best $88 I spend every year.   


Keep up the good work everyone, and look forward to seeing you face to face in Feb.





Dr Tom Dixon Science writer & communicator

Econnect Communication Pty Ltd

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post PO Box 3734 | South Brisbane BC | QLD 4101, Australia

address Kurilpa Studio | 14 Horan Street | West End | QLD 4101, Australia



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From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces@lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Claire Harris
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 5:01 PM
To: Mobile Science Education; asc-list
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion


Hi Lee, 

I would like to reply to your first sentence - that just because we work hard we shouldn't be criticised. If I take 'criticised' to mean 'judged to find fault' then I disagree with you. 


Of course I think it's good to talk about what the Exec and others are doing, however, please have some perspective. We are working hard (many, many hours) with the best intentions. Being criticised via an email blast is not a constructive way to raise issues and flag that things should be done differently, in your opinion. 


Why not have a conversation with someone in your local branch, see if they agree with you and therefore raise it through the National Council? Why not send an email directly to ASC?... Why not contribute your passion towards changing something?


The communication with the membership, including canvassing priorities, should of course be reviewed often and re-jigged as needed and so I and the Exec welcome workable ideas for improving this AND always have - see my (and many other Presidents') previous posts to lists and monthly President updates in Scope.


It's great that you "still like the idea of an association of people passionate about communicating science".


What benefits do you see for the $88 a year? Any of these perhaps: http://www.asc.asn.au/membership/ ? 


It's funny, I spent $80 on a dinner the other night with my partner. I enjoyed the evening, but hell, for $88 a year I get to stay connected to hundreds of interesting people, hear about jobs, events, initiatives, fun stuff, scary stuff...


I am also interested in how you feel that your field (science education/outreach is it?) is ignored or condescended to? By whom?


Yes by all means review the conference but review it in the context of its wider value beyond simply 'an event that some of us can't get to'.


In 2012, we had more than 250 members attend plus we were watched remotely via Twitter and content was generated for our website. Conferences also provide a raft of benefits, which I think others have delved into more on the list but I wanted to point out that it is important for connecting with people inside and outside the profession.


In 2014 we will have peer-reviewed papers for the first time and a published proceedings - this is one way of further advancing the professional standing of science communication as a discipline.  





Claire Harris

A/g President, Australian Science Communicators 

ASC2014 Conference Organising and Program Committees



On 15 November 2013 11:31, Mobile Science Education <info@mobilescienceeducation.com.au> wrote:

As a hard working science communicator myself, I’m wary of even a suggestion that hard work can shield a person from criticism. But that aside, ASC seems to have a pretty nasty chicken and egg problem: you need more members in order to have the funds to provide the resources and activities that would be needed in order to attract more members…


I do wonder if part of the problem is simply that ASC as a whole simply isn’t very clear about its purpose. At least in a professional association of doctors or lawyers, everyone in the association agrees about what a doctor or lawyer is. Science Communication seems to be a very vague grab-bag of notions; is it a science journalist, a media advisor, someone who works in the media department of an industry, a Doctor Karl, a Questacon Science Circus graduate, a small science-education-support business owner, a free-lance writer, a member of a grants steering committee, etc, etc, etc…  Please don’t reply to say that it’s all of those things, because at ASC it clearly is not; my own field is one that is either ignored or condescended to.


Having said that, I still like the idea of an association of people passionate about communicating science, and will happily pay my membership fee (currently overdue, must get to that…) but I don’t know that I’d pay more unless it became clearer exactly what I was paying for.


It seems that the majority of the time and energy resources available go to the annual conference. Is anyone questioning whether this is the best use of our very limited resources? It would seem that an expensive conference that the majority of members can’t get to, that accomplishes little of concrete value (saying that we need to establish best practice models does nothing to help establish best practice models), and uses the lion’s share of our resources, ought to be questioned quite closely.


So, having lit that fuse, I’ll now return to lurking and getting my actual work done…


Lee Harrison

Mobile Science Education


0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586



PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098


From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces@lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Jess Tyler
Sent: Friday, 15 November 2013 10:18 AM
To: Ian M.
Cc: Susan Kirk; Asc List
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion


I'll bite too.


AS a founding member and past Exec member, I"ve seen ASC go through many, many iterations of how it presents to the world. Websites, newsletters, ideas for people's pet projects, ideas for great political change, ideas and projects that advance our cause. It all comes and goes in the natural cycle of life in a non-professional volunteer industry representative group.


I've also seen a lot of people not turn up to events or give feedback. Me included. I've seen states work so hard on initiatives that flop through lack of interest. I coordinated here in Tasmania for 14 years and tried every thing I could think of to engage members and I ended up stepping aside because I was exhausted from the effort for no gain and with little support.


I've also seen a lot of people complain but not do anything or volunteer anything.


ASC constantly asks what members want.


And many of us do put up project proposals that don't get acted upon, but this is life. Because it is a voluntary group, with scant resources, and as usual, only the solid few have the energy and drive outside their day jobs to put effort in on a consistent basis.


I have my times of loving/hating ASC, but it has never failed to strive for its objectives, and it is the only group in Australia with a charter to advance the profession of science communication in society. I will always support its existence, even though I don't always support individual tactics. This is part of a growing and developing organisation.


I would happily pay double my membership fee if that meant equipping the nat exec with the resources it needs to reach to the next level. Hell, I'd even triple it. This is my profession and I want to belong to a group of people who are 'my' people.


If you don't like the ASC-media list, or SCOPE, don't subscribe to it - we are a democracy - and see it for what it is: a posting list for media items to whoever wants to look.


If you want to communicate about communicating - go ahead!


But please don't bag out the organisation and the people who work so hard.


Jess Tyler

SciBiz Media & Communications

ASC Founding Member #71



Jess Tyler

SciBiz Media & Communications

M: 0408 298 292


On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM, Ian M. <ianmcd85@hotmail.com> wrote:

I'll bite....

Knowing a little bit about how the ASC runs, being actively involved over the past 3 years - to post onto the ASC e-lists you need to be a member but to receive the emails posted to the list - you don't...so potentially people who are emailing you back privately aren't members but want to reply?

I agree the list should be about us starting discussions, learning about events in your region and getting advice from those in the field....obviously the media list should be kept to media releases and promoting science.

I hope someone from the exec replies but I know that alot of the things you have suggested such as website and professionalism are well underway and I also look forward to hearing of the progress as well  - potentially at National AGM. Which - just to remind you the ACT branch is hosting on the 29th of November, so hopefully local members can come along if in Canberra.

I disagree with your comment on the Scope Newsletter - what is the justification for saying it's a flop? I thoroughly enjoy recieving it each month and think more members should contribute. Plus I always read a message from the National President giving us updates on national activities - http://www.asc.asn.au/blog/2013/11/02/presidents-update-rocketing-towards-the-end-of-the-year-agm-and-members-abroad/

As for members not being involved in events - the ACT branch ran multiple events this year targeted at members and didn't get a great response - so this is something our committee is working on, the age old question - what do members want?

How do we best target events for our members? Do members want more webinars rather then events you have to physically attend?

We are using ASC money after all to run these, so we want to make sure that members are happy with what we are doing.

As Susan stated, join in, it is a great way to learn from each other - we are all a friendly bunch and if you are worried about posting from your work email - post from a personal email.


Dr Ian McDonald

Science writer and presenter


M: 0439 746 556
Twitter: @ianmcd85
Skype: ianmcd85


ABN: 91 575 957 824


Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 08:23:11 +1000
From: skirk@iprimus.com.au

To: asc-list@lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: [ASC-list] Where's ASC headed? Was science or persuasion

I think Charles has a valid point..  ASC is beginning to look like Food4media or TravMedia.

Maybe we should do what some other associations do and charge a premium for these media release postings? They are after all advertising.  I think there are other better places to get media release, AusSMC, Eureka, Google alerts are a few of the places I subscribe and of course science direct topic alerts.

I personally would like to see more communication about communication on this list.  I know you can take the horse to water etc. But why don't members feel comfortable airing their bits on here?  So many times people have responded to me off the list.  I feel like shouting.  Keep it on the list.  

I would also like to see more communication from the executive on this list.  We haven't heard anything about the new website.  We keep employing scope editors and the newsletter keeps flopping.  We keep talking about becoming more professional but what's happening to our charter and code of ethics?  

Members are not involved in any of the communications for any of the events or funding or anything really, the only communication comes from those few that can be bothered to raise questions or liaise on the list.

I repeat.  We can't operate in a vacuum.  

Please don't email me off the list with your replies.  Keep it on the list.


Susan Fairbairn (nee Kirk)  
B.comm  freelance Journalist
Member and Queensland Web Editor -  Australian Science Communicators (ASC)
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
tel: +61 7 5478 6761 | mobile: 0414645953 | email: susan@susankirk.com.au
www.susankirk.com.au |  Skype: susanakirk | Tweet: @SusanAKirk
Facebook group: Plant Power

“If you don’t ask the right questions you won’t get the right answers.”

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