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IPC Bonn 2008

There will be an open meeting of the EPD on Thursday 4th September 1830-2000 at Bonn. Important decisions will be made about its future administrative structure. Watch this space for more details!

At the EPD open meeting in Bonn we must decide on the future administrative structure for the EPD. At present it is run by a small caretaking committee (Richard Bradshaw, Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu and Valerie Andrieu) while progress is made in working groups that report their activities on the web-site. It would be nice to keep the whole process as open and public as possible. Please now submit ideas for how the EPD should be managed in the future that can form the basis for discussions at Bonn. I will begin……

Proposal for future administrative structure of the EPD. Richard Bradshaw. I propose that the working group structure continues, but as many of the contributors have no permanent positions there should be a group of co-ordinators, nominated and elected for fixed terms, who try and sort out finances and represent the EPD to the outside world. I suggest three people would be sufficient for this role. They oversee activities and encourage working groups to be active. The main role of the working groups is to support the data-base manager Michelle Leydet. This would be a far cheaper and slimmer organisation than we had before (Executive Committee and Advisory Board), but in the absence of secure funding this is practical. It would be a little more formal (open elections etc.) than the present interim arrangement. Elections could be web-based like the INQUA palaeo committee. A key role of the co-ordinators would be to raise funds for meetings and other EPD activities so it would be advatageous for these people to have access to research funds.

CONTRIBUTION from Prof. Andy Lotter. Member of the Executive Committee EPD

Future administrative structure of the EPD – Decision to be taken during the 12th international Palynological Congress (IPC) in September 2008 in Bonn

The EPD has existed for over 15 years. It has an administrative structure that includes: - an Advisory Board (AB) of several palynologists representing different geographical parts of Europe and - an Executive Committee (EC) consisting of three European palynologists. Members of the EPD have been serving on a volunteer basis, whereas the database manager has been (part time) employed on project funds. Over the past almost two decades two EPD EU grants as well as project-related EU grants allowed to finance AB/EC meetings on a regular basis as well as incidental workshops with regard to e.g. database matters and pollen nomenclature issues. In recent years, however, the situation with regard to financing such meetings has become extremely difficult with the effect that (re-)election of AB and EC members has been suspended for some years. In view of this new situation it was decided during the last open EPD meeting in May 2007 to discuss the future administrative structure of the EPD. This discussion will involve all European palynologists and contributors to the EPD and will take place during the 12th international Palynological Congress (IPC) in September 2008 in Bonn. The organizers of the IPC have allocated a time-slot on Thursday, September 4th 2008 from 18.30-20 o’clock for an EPD meeting. Given the short time for such an important meeting this document is meant as a basis to stimulate and prepare the discussion so that we shall be able to come to a decision that will be supported by the EPD community.

Options Different options for a future administrative structure may be discussed:

Status quo Business as usual, with an AB, an EC, and a database manager in the same way as before.

Slim structure (largely following Richard Bradshaw’s suggestion) An AB consisting of the coordinators of EPD working groups (see EPD homepage) - thus representing the interests of these working groups - and an EC of 2-3 senior palynologists (representing the interests of the EPD to the outside world), and an EPD database manager.

Alternative structure Open for discussion.

For all possible structures we need to take into consideration the financial restrictions which will have implications on the amount and financing of meetings. Major discussion points for all options may be:

  1. Meetings (how often?): e.g. AB and EC meet on average once every (two?) year(s) (preferably at a major conference) to discuss and decide on EPD matters and produce a newsletter
  2. Elections (who, how?): e.g. EC members are elected by EPD members (which majority needed?) so that they represent the (majority of the) EPD community. Depending on the structure, AB members are also elected by EPD members (status quo) or appointed by the EC (slim structure: AB members are EPD working group coordinators). Should the person responsible of the EPD locally at Arbois automatically be a member of the EC?
  3. EPD members may propose new working groups on specific topics. The EC (?) approves the installation of the new working group and its coordinator, and informs the community through the EPD homepage (?)
  4. Right to vote (who?): only EPD contributors have the right to vote on EPD matters elect, and be elected for offices
  5. Votes can be done via e-mail and coordinated by the EPD database manager (?)
  6. a term of office includes 4 years, re-election is possible
  7. by accepting the election EC and AB members should commit to serving the EPD for the election period and also be able to provide their own financial means to attend EPD meetings
  8. etc.

Ideally, the discussion about these and other points not mentioned here should start as soon as possible and during the IPC meeting in Bonn we should be able to reach a decision that has the consensus of the EPD community.

Discussion

Walter Finsinger, 2008/09/04 10:05

Hi there, Hope you are having a good time at the Bonn meeting these days. And I sincerely hope that the discussion this evening will be richer (in terms of contributions and variety of opinions) than the discussion on the wiki. Now, since I will not be able to participate in the discussion this evening, I thought, nevertheless, to contribute writing a couple of lines in this wiki...though I’m not sure anyone will be reading that before 18:30 today.

I largely agree with Thomas’ suggestions: - “Status quo Business as usual” is no option, - positive if support groups would continue to work for the EPD, - no need for a newsletter as long as someone (who? the database manager?) posts news on the webpage, - meetings may be necessary and could be organized as sessions during congresses or as workshops, - and sure, as suggested by Richard and by Andy, there is a need to have 2-3 senior palynologists (with a permanent position) who would (i) represent the EPD to the ‘outside world’, and (ii) oversee the activities of the support groups.

Concerning the question as to who is allowed to vote: I again, agree with Thomas stressing that it would be wise if the EPD would not exclude scientists that have never submitted a pollen diagram if they substantially supported the EPD. It would be, however, useful if the term ‘support’ could be better defined. In fact, the EPD has, at least in my opinion, two main reasons to exist (functions): 1. as a long-term data archive that guarantees a secure and open access to palynological data; and 2. provides the opportunity to work with large datasets of pollen data. Hence, ‘support’ may be, indeed, a contribution to the EPD (i) in terms of a submitted original pollen record, or (ii) the scientific contribution using EPD data (data analysis, transformation, interpolation, or whatsoever). I wonder, now, if in the latter case the ‘supporter’ should be requested to submit to the database also the ‘data analysis tools’ (e.g. scripts, macros) and the maps produced, if any (e.g. pdfs, gridded data, etc)?

Thomas Giesecke, 2008/07/10 20:31

I think the EPD should change so “Status quo Business as usual” is for me no option. There was a good spirit at the 2007 open meeting in Arbois and many people that attended were interested to get involved. The concept of support groups is in my opinion a success. Although not all groups were active to the same extend the database has significantly benefited from some activities (check of data accuracy or solving of taxonomic problems).

The EPD should be an active forum where people can easily get involved and by using the database also help to improve it (e.g. report errors – suggest better age-depth models). In my opinion any individual or groups of people should be able to create support groups. However, I do see the need of some coordination or control as well as some long term management as support groups may arise and decay rather quickly. Furthermore, support groups can make suggestions but as they have not been elected in any form they should not make important decisions and thus there is a need for a small group of people to take decisions in the name of the wider community.

I do not see a need for formal EPD meetings of an advisory group or similar as decisions should not be postponed until the next meeting. I also see no need for a newsletter as news can be posted on the web page in irregular intervals in any case. However, I would like to see workshops or sessions at meetings. Meetings may be necessary for support groups to work on particular problems.

The question on who is allowed to vote is an interesting one. Limiting it to people that have contributed data could be a good tool to get more data into the EPD but it would cut out people that have substantially supported the EPD but never produced a pollen diagram. I would therefore suggest that anyone that has an interest in the EPD should be able to vote, but there should be a registration.

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