News

Voluntary Sector Review: Call for Practice and Book Reviews Editors

The Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and Policy Press invite applications for the positions of Practice Editor and Book Reviews Editor to join the current editorial team for the Voluntary Sector Review from February 2019 to December 2022.

Voluntary Sector Review (VSR) is a journal with a growing international profile that publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice.

The new Practice Editor will join an existing Practice Editor, and will focus on editing practice-oriented papers. S/he will work closely with the VSR Editorial Team, the Editorial Management Board and Policy Press. Tasks that the Practice Editor will undertake include:

  • receiving submissions, identifying suitable referees, making editorial decisions on acceptance, revision or rejection in the light of referees’ reports
  • maintaining and further developing the national and international reputation of the journal
  • commissioning articles, encouraging submissions, and supporting authors for the Practice section
  • participating in person or virtually in twice yearly meetings of the Editorial Management Board.

The new Book Reviews Editor will focus on identifying and receiving suitable books for review, inviting and supporting reviewers, and editing reviews. S/he will work closely with the VSR Editorial Team, the Editorial Management Board and Policy Press.

Job Descriptions for both roles can be found here.

The Editorial Management Board of VSR is looking forward to receiving applications from those interested in taking up these positions on the editorial team of the journal from February 2019 for an initial period of three years.

Applications

The deadline for applications is 10th January 2019. Applications should be sent to: d.kamerade-hanta@salford.ac.uk.

Applicants should have experience of research, research methods, academic writing and /or teaching in a relevant field, as well as experience of working or volunteering in the voluntary sector/civil society arena.

All applicants are asked to provide a short CV highlighting relevant experience.

Applicants for Practice Editor should also provide a brief account of their strategic plans to maintain and develop the VSR’s Practice Section.

Prospective applicants are welcome to contact the current Practice Editor (Chris Dayson – c.dayson@shu.ac.uk) and Book Reviews Editor (James Rees – james.rees@open.ac.uk) informally to discuss the roles further.

Prospective applicants may also contact other members of the selection committee:

Daiga Kamerade, Chair of the Editorial Management Board (d.kamerade-hanta@salford.ac.uk)

Rob Macmillan, Editor (rob.macmillan@shu.ac.uk)

Julia Mortimer, Publisher (julia.mortimer@bristol.ac.uk)

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the Selection Committee.

Conference report and presentations – Diversity in the spotlight

The report and all presentations from our recent conference, Diversity in the spotlight: highlighting perspectives on race, culture and migrants, are now available to download.

Thank you to all our speakers and attendees for a very stimulating start to what we hope will be a series of events exploring the marginalisation or absence of diverse groups from voluntary sector research and debates.

VSSN Steering Group and VSR Editorial Management Board nominations

Nominations for places on the VSSN Steering Group and the Editorial Management Board (EMB) of our journal, Voluntary Sector Review, have now been received.

In each case, the number of nominations did not exceed the number of vacant places, so an election was not required.

Click to read the candidate statements for the VSSN Steering Group and Editorial Management Board.

Angela Ellis-Paine, Co-Chair of the VSSN Steering Group:

“We were delighted to receive three nominations for the VSSN Steering Group. All the nominations were from current Steering Group members who had either come to the end of their first term of office or who had previously been co-opted members. You can read their nomination statements here.

With three nominations for three vacancies, the elections were uncontested and all three will be warmly welcomed back on to the Steering Group at our AGM in November. Chris, Chris and Jon have already made considerable contributions to VSSN, and we look forward to continuing to work with them over the next three years”

Daiga Kamerade, Chair of the Voluntary Sector Review Editorial Management Board:

“We received three nominations for the places on the Editorial Management Board: Mike Hemmings (York St. John University, UK ), Rita Mano (University of Haifa, Israel), and Jon Dean (Sheffield Hallam University, UK). You can read their nomination statements here. With three nominations for three vacancies, the elections were uncontested and we look forward to their contribution to the Board over the next three years.”

Call for nominations: VSSN Steering Group and Voluntary Sector Review Editorial Management Group

Would you like to support the work of VSSN more actively? Do you have ideas about how you’d like to see the network develop?

If so, please consider nominating yourself for a place on either or both of:

  • the VSSN Steering Group
  • the Editorial Management Board (EMB) of Voluntary Sector Review, the journal produced by VSSN with Policy Press

It is a self-nomination process; you do not need to be nominated by someone else.

Simply complete the VSSN Steering Group nomination form and/or the Voluntary Sector Review Editorial Management Board nomination form and return by email by 19th October.

You must be a paid-up member of VSSN by 22nd October in order to nominate yourself.  New members are welcome!

If you would like to be more involved but don’t want to join the Steering Group or Editorial Management Board, there are other voluntary roles which are equally valuable and help us develop our networks and activities. For example, we would welcome help with moderating the VSSN email discussion list.  This is an important role but not an onerous one. It would only take a few minutes of your time each week and full training will be available if required.  If you are interested in finding out more about this role please contact me at a.ellispaine@bham.ac.uk.

More information about the roles and the election process here. We look forward to receiving your nomination.

Conference bookings now open, with big discounts for VSSN members!

Bookings are now open for the 2018 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference conference, with big discounts for VSSN members.

Organised by VSSN in partnership with NCVO, this conference provides a unique opportunity for academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share and discuss research that addresses the conference theme, as well as broader issues facing the voluntary sector and volunteering at this time.

This year’s theme is ‘Trust, transparency and accountability of charities and voluntary organisations: challenges for policy, practice and research‘.

Early bird rates now available. Find out more about the conference and book your place here.

Report from Jon Dean: Building bridges: Volunteering Research and Practice Workshop – 7 June 2018

 

During Volunteers Week, the Voluntary Sector Studies Network, the Association of Volunteer Managers, and the National Network of Volunteer-Involving Agencies organised an event focused on bringing university-based volunteering researchers and sector practitioners together. Hosted at NCVO, the five-hour workshop sought to build bridges between these two groups, who, frankly, should have a better connection. Around a dozen presenters, from universities and voluntary organisations, delivered short challenges to the 40 attendees, followed by lots of intense discussion.

 

Helen Timbrell, Executive Director of People and Organisational Development at the Samaritans, perhaps said it best when she directly addressed the need for us all to be a little less comfortable. Charities need to engage with research even if it shows they could be doing their work better, and researchers need to recognise that if their work isn’t made use of, what purpose does it serve?

 

Academic researchers are well-aware that our writing is often obtuse and our findings are hidden away in journals no right-thinking person would ever want to engage with; and charities frequently want a ‘quick win’ in research terms to showcase impact to a funder, rather than completing long-term and thorough investigations. Being honest about these different priorities is vital, especially at a time when both groups are seeing less available resource to devote to research.

 

As a member of the VSSN’s Steering Group, and a researcher focused on charity issues at Sheffield Hallam University, I will be the first to admit that I don’t personally do enough to make any research I do useful for sector practitioners. A lot of it is not always applicable in the day-to-day functioning of charities, focused perhaps on sociological trends rather than specific problem-solving, but talking to practitioners at this event showed a yearning for insight into the challenges the sector will face over the next decade, with the growth of digital and the retirement of the baby boomers the most frequently discussed issues.

 

What was invigorating to see at the end of the event was a commitment to be a bit better in the future. The different priorities will always exist, and they are unavoidable, but many individuals from a variety of organisations left the workshop promising to make some specific changes, such as a promise to invest resources in examining the sector’s failure to embrace greater diversity and what we can do about it, to a commitment to approaching universities for research opportunities. I myself will certainly commit to producing and promoting freely accessible, more practitioner-centred research in future (alongside the dusty journals).

 

The good news is we already know a huge amount about the voluntary sector: around what works and doesn’t work in fundraising; around the motivations behind and benefits of volunteering; and around charity leadership. Rather than re-inventing the wheel and doing the same research again, what events like this one reaffirmed was the need to get that knowledge into the right hands, and the fact that the opportunities to do it already exist. Through social media feeds, discussion lists, direct emails, and more engaged face to face events and conferences like this one, if everyone’s willing to be a little less comfortable, the rewards may well be worth it.

Report from Irene Hardill: Building bridges: Volunteering Research and Practice Workshop – 7 June 2018

Personal reflections

Rather appropriately the Building Bridges volunteering research and practice workshop, co-hosted by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network, Association of Volunteer Managers and the Network of National Volunteer Involving Agencies and supported by NCVO, was held during Volunteering Week. Through their networks the co-convenors attracted a diverse audience united by a commitment to understanding and supporting the growth of voluntary action and a desire to strengthen collaborative working between volunteer managers and researchers.

The atmosphere was incredibly welcoming, I met new people, and met colleagues some of whom I hadn’t seen for several years. I certainly learned a lot. The format of the day facilitated knowledge sharing, and the mobilisation of multiple knowledges. The latter effectively happens when knowledge is co-produced, and knowledge/evidence is presented in accessible formats targeted for specific audiences.

Key messages from the day for me as a university researcher include:

  • The importance of co-producing knowledge, of collaborating from the outset when identifying research questions
  • Of ensuring that research findings are presented available in accessible formats in order to inform decision making.
  • Of thinking of conduits that can be used to ensure that new knowledge is easily and efficiently ‘discovered’ by the sector
  • Of the importance of networks that create the spaces and places for conversations between those committed to supporting voluntary action

Irene Hardill, Northumbria University

Guest blog: Researching what matters to charities and donors

Dr Helen Owen, Research Consultant at Giving Evidence, introduces a new search for ‘unanswered questions’

Though both charities and philanthropy are long-established, the academic study of them is nascent but growing rapidly: new centres have been established in various universities in the UK and beyond in recent years. There is therefore an opportunity to ensure that academic research into charities and philanthropy focuses on the issues which, arguably, are of greatest value to the people it intends to influence: charities, institutional funders, and private donors. But does it do so?

Charity Futures, the new sector think tank led by Sir Stephen Bubb, is launching a major consultation to find out the unanswered questions or topics on which donors, funders and charity leaders most want more research to help them in their vital work.

This is intended to improve the transparency on how research topics are decided. Whereas to date the choice of research topics conducted in the voluntary sector has been largely driven and dominated by the academic community, the consultation is designed to stimulate more/better research of the type that charities, funders and donors would like to see, and thereby to inform and improve their activities.

The consultation, to be carried out by the consultancy Giving Evidence, will invite input from any charity, foundation, public or private donor in the United Kingdom. Through an open ‘crowd-sourcing’ process, including a series of focus groups in London, Edinburgh, Bradford, Manchester and Cardiff, the project will challenge the sector to tell it what research would be of most use.

This approach – of engaging the intended end-users of research in the process of deciding what should be researched – is relatively new to the charity and philanthropy sectors but has proven powerful in other sectors in terms of generating research focused on the issues most salient to its intended users.

The pioneering and rigorous consultation process that Charity Futures and Giving Evidence will be undertaking is based on a process created and used by the James Lind Alliance (JLA) which works in healthcare, to allow patients affected by particular conditions, their carers and doctors to identify and prioritise unanswered questions for further research. For example, the current research on cataracts is heavy on early detection and how to improve management; however, when patients and healthcare professionals were involved in a recent JLA priority setting partnership, the top priority question for this area was how can cataracts be prevented from developing? The potential implications of the findings from this consultation are that more research will be available into the areas that can improve the effectiveness of charities.

The consultation begins this month, with focus groups in May and June. The final conclusions of the study (due in May 2019) will be a prioritised list of research questions which donors and charities have raised. It will be published and available to anybody, including academics, researchers, research funders, donors, charities and policy bodies interested in charities and philanthropy.

The project is supported by a distinguished advisory group of funders, private donors, researchers, charity leaders and umbrella bodies.

If VSSN members have any networks of practitioners that would be interested in participating in the upcoming focus group discussions, please contact Christopher Penny (Christopher@charityfutures.org) for further details and invitations.