Political Studies Association Specialist Groups

Introduction

The Political Studies Association has a network of over forty specialist groups dedicated to the promotion of quality research within the profession. These groups provide a research focus for PSA members and receive support from the PSA.

How do I form a specialist group?

The procedure for forming a specialist group is straightforward. A statement of case, explaining why a group needs establishing, should be sent to the PSA Specialist Groups Chair, Dr Cathy Gormley-Heenan. The proposal needs to explain why the existing network of specialist groups offers inadequate coverage of this research area. The proposal should outline proposed research activities conferences; bids; possible publications etc) and indicate preliminary officers (all groups are required to have at least a Convenor and Treasurer), include a draft of a constitution and proposed membership fees (if charged).

Proposals can be received at any point during the year but proposals for the establishment of new specialist groups are placed before the full PSA Executive Committee for decision, once a year, at the January executive committee meeting.

Please note that the Convenor of the specialist group as well as the other officers, MUST be members of the PSA.  If the proposal is approved, the applicant is also sent a welcome leaflet, indicating the procedures for maintaining a specialist group.

What is required by the PSA after a group has been established?

A code of conduct exists which all specialist groups are expected to adhere to and which is circulated to all specialist group convenors. In short, all specialist groups are required to set up and maintain webpages. These should be updated regularly. They must also set up a  bank account or a university account in the name of the specialist group. Most groups put on panels at the PSA’s annual conference each year and hold their own annual or biennial conferences and workshops. Most also produce newsletters for members. PSA News provides opportunities for groups to publicise themselves and their activities. Specialist group chairs are encouraged to submit material on recent events.

All groups are required to have a written constitution.

At the end of each calendar year, the chair of the PSA’s Specialist Groups Sub-committee requests an annual report from each group convenor. This should provide information about the group’s activities during the previous year and about its officers and members.

The annual report must be accompanied by clear and detailed evidence of the group’s financial situation, income and expenditure, including copies of invoices, receipts, account statements, etc. Annual reports must be submitted by 31st January, and late submissions will be ineligible forfunding for the subsequent year.

How are specialist groups funded?

A financial bid form is sent by the PSA Specialist Group Chair at the same time as the request for an annual report. Group convenors may bid for up to £1,500 annually, of which £750 may be paid upfront. The additional funding must be claimed on production of receipts and invoices – which must be received by January 31. It should be noted that due to financial constraints, overall awards are normally for smaller amounts. Groups are encouraged to seek additional sources of funding. The amount awarded to each group is determined by the PSA’s Specialist Groups Chair on the basis of the previous and proposed levels of activity indicated in annual reports, whether sufficient evidence of expenditure has been provided, and on the overall state of the group’s finances. If a group has chosen not to levy membership fees then non-members of the PSA must be charged to attend Specialist Group events if these events are  funded (or part funded) by the PSA. The income from this should be separately detailed in the January accounts.

The annual Specialist Activities Funding Competition offers groups the opportunity to bid for additional funding of up to £2,000 for special events and activities beyond their regular events. Entries are judged according to their originality and specialist nature, how detailed and well costed they are and on the basis of the most recent annual report of the group(s) concerned. Groups that received funding from this scheme in one year  are unlikely to receive support from this scheme in the next year. Groups may also apply for funding for guest speakers at the PSA’s annual conference. Details of this scheme will appear on the conference webpages.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Dr Cathy Gormley-Heenan