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Spokes Editorial Committee: are you our next Chairperson?

Spokes Editorial Committee members, Warsaw, January 2019

Spokes is Ecsite’s magazine, a monthly online publication for science engagement professionals in Europe and beyond. Its ambition is to be an open forum for creative discussion, spreading new ideas, sharing best practice and providing carefully curated news.

A small group of people stand behind the magazine: the Spokes Editorial Committee. The Committee brings together experts from Ecsite member organisations generously contributing their time and energy, and members of the Ecsite communications team in charge of the magazine's daily operations. Maarten Okkersen, Head of Communications at Museon (The Hague, The Netherlands), is currently serving his second and last mandate as the Chairperson of this friendly community of open-minded, inspiring professionals. We are looking for his successor.

Feels like something for you? This call is open to staff of Full Ecsite members. Apply by 7 April.

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What chairing the Committee entails

Specific Chairperson's responsibilities

In dialogue with the Ecsite Board and in consultation with the rest of the Editorial Committee and the Ecsite team, the Chairperson defines the editorial line of the magazine and its strategy.

The Chairperson acts as the group leader of the Editorial Committee, making the most of the collective expertise present in the Committee and making sure all members feel valued and motivated.

The Chairperson reports to the Ecsite Board and Ecsite executive Director and is invited to attend a Board meeting once a year on the occasion of the Ecsite conference.

The Chairperson also works closely with the Ecsite Communications team on one-off questions like new article formats, graphic design, statistical analysis etc.

A few rules about this mandate:

  • The Chairperson is nominated by the Ecsite Board for a three year mandate, renewable once.

  • The Chairperson can choose Committee members. An open call was introduced last year for the first time.

  • The same person cannot represent her or his organisation on the Ecsite Board and be the Chairperson of the Spokes Editorial Committee, but the same organisation can be represented on both.

  • Decisions with a financial impact must be agreed by the Executive Director. On a daily basis, the Spokes budget is managed by Ecsite's Communication Manager, who is responsible for the day to day running of Spokes.

  • Editorial Committee members cover their own travel and accommodation expenses. Like all members of other Ecsite Committees or governance structures, the Chairperson will need to cover the registration cost to attend the Ecsite events. The networking is invaluable, however!


The estimated overall time commitment is 10 working days per year.

3-4 days are dedicated to strategic analysis, vision development and reporting to the Board, while around 6-7 days are dedicated to the Committee’s regular cycles, as described below.


How the Editorial Committee works

Once a year: planning meeting

We meet once in January at one of the Committee members’ organisations for a full day meeting (or two half days). The Chairperson shapes this meeting in liaison with the Ecsite team, and leads parts of it.

This is when we have strategic discussions and shape the editorial calendar for the year ahead, brainstorming topics,authors, trends etc. and each committing to follow up on specific article ideas.

We also try to meet again in June for an informal dinner just before the Ecsite Conference.


Each month: shaping, commenting, checking

We hold a monthly conference call to discuss the specifics of upcoming issues, review article pitches etc. During the month, the Chairperson, like all Committee members, is invited to comment on received articles and check Spokes before it comes out.

Each issue has an “on call’ member (every member of the Committee looks after one to two issues per year). The Ecsite Communications team does the "groundwork" of putting Spokes together. The “on call” Committee member works closely with that team and is in charge of having read everything before that particular issue of Spokes goes out.


Other Committee tasks

Depending on their skills or interests, all Committee members, Chairperson included, can shape their involvement and contribution to the Committee. Like other members, the Chairperson might want to write book reviews, identify and relay good reads etc. A regular task is chasing authors: once we’ve accepted a proposal, a Committee member acts as the liaison person with the author(s), helping them shape their piece, chasing them when deadlines are close – in short: making sure they deliver.

As a Committee member, the Chairperson is well placed to volunteer to write articles or conduct interviews on topics of interest highlighted by the Committee (like all other publications of course they’ll be submitted to peer Committee members’ critical eye). But writing articles is not a mandatory part of the position.



Spokes saw the light in 2013, first as a quarterly paper publication. In spring 2015 the magazine became an online monthly publication, freely available to all from the Ecsite website. With the 50th issue around the corner, the Spokes Editorial Committee looked back and forward and identified a number of challenges. Here are the biggest ones:

  • Growing our readership: we think that inside Ecsite member organisations, not enough staff members read Spokes. We also want to make the magazine better known in the science communication / academic community.

  • Encouraging a more diverse range of authors: the threshold to writing a Spokes article can seem intimidating.

  • Social media bubble effects and algorithms are making the magazine less visible and readers seem to have little time overall.


How to apply

Fill in this application form by 7 April. Shortlisted candidates might be interviewed. The new Chairperson will be nominated by the Board on 5 June.

Most Editorial Committee members will be attending the 30th Ecsite Conference in Copenhagen and we are hoping that the new Chairperson will be able to join for an informal dinner on 5 June. The new Chairperson will take office from mid June 2019 onwards.

Want to know more? Email Ecsite's Communications and Events Manager Julie Becker.


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