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Starting a Special Interest Group (SIG)

There are no official guidelines for starting a SIG (just the application process below), but we have many suggestions that may help your SIG form successfully. The only rule is that the SIG is open to all ACBS members worldwide.

What is the scope of the SIG? First consider the scope of the SIG -- how broad or narrow of a topic does it make sense to consider for developing a SIG in the current climate?

Who can be invited to join? Next, what individuals can you and your colleagues identify who might share an interest in this topic? How invested are they willing to be? Who might be interested in taking some sort of leadership role?

  • Creating accepting, active, values-based groups within ACBS

When you start a group, be mindful of the possibility that there may be others who could feel left out or threatened if they are unaware of it in the early stages. Please be sensitive to that subtle human problem -- inclusion is a value in the ACBS community. Err on the side of inclusion -- for example, you might first circulate the idea for your SIG on the main listserves.

Be especially mindful of the need for democratic and open processes in choosing leadership as the group forms. If there are "competing groups" in a particular problem area, try to get them all involved in the process. If we are to create open values-based groups, the very process of creating them needs to fit that purpose.

Begin to develop a mission. Develop a sense of a few key goals or a basic mission. This is not intended to be the final product, but it may help potential members understand what kinds of goals and activities the SIG may engage in were it to be formed. As you approach potentially interested parties, consider inviting feedback from potential SIG members on the development of the SIGs mission, goals, and proposed activities. Their suggestions may alter the scope or plan of the SIG in ways that may be beneficial to the group as a whole. 

Voting. It is important to identify a core group of individuals who would vote for potential officers or leaders in the SIG and collect accurate contact information for them (preferrably email). Voting has worked in two ways for existing groups: 1) Nominating individuals for office and holding elections to choose from among those candidates, or 2) Simply asking the SIG members to select their top choices for officers. Alternatively, if you don't have or don't want a formal process, you aren't required to have one for a SIG.  Leaders may simply self-nominate, if there is concensus.

Voting via email has worked for SIGs so far -- simply gather email addresses of potential members, provide simple instructions for voting, and ask the voting to take place by a certain date (at least a week or more to allow for travel and those who do not check email frequently).

If anonymous voting is important, consider developing a brief online survey (with a free survey program such as Surveymonkey) or ask a third party to compile the votes. ACBS staff may be able to help with this task.

Most SIGs have voted on officers prior to submitting to ACBS the official application to become a SIG, but this is not required.

Alternatively, if you don't have or don't want a formal process, you aren't required to have one for a SIG. Leaders may simply self-nominate, if there is concensus. Official Boards and voting are not required for a SIG.

Cement the Mission and Activities. After officers have been elected, establish with potential SIG members a more final version of the purpose or mission of the group, and identify some activities and goals of the group. Allow time for feedback from members.

Additional considerations:

  • What aspects of the topic of interest are in need of strengthening or development? 
  • How does the SIG envision the interconnections between basic science, applied science, intervention development and dissemination?
  • In what ways does a contextual behavioral approach progress the scholarly inquiry into this topic?
  • What groups of professionals, students, etc. can be contact about potential membership? 
  • How might networking between the SIG and other agencies, institutions, and professions further the goals of the SIG?
  • If dissemination -- of knowledge, skills, or other resources -- is a goal, in what ways would the group further this goal?

SIGs vs. Chapters

Special Interest Groups are distinct from Chapters. Chapters are established within regions, countries, or localities, or within language communities, while Special Interest Groups are defined by specific topical areas. Given their purpose, SIGs are less formal entities than Chapters.

Some chapters, such as the Italy Chapter and Brazil Chapter, have started chapter level SIGs. If you are interested in starting a chapter level SIG (like "Italian ACT for Health SIG"), please contact your chapter leaders. ACBS does not manage chapter level SIGs.

Applying to Become a SIG

Please consult the ACBS SIG Handbook to learn how to form your SIG. Then you may complete the online SIG Application.

Don't forget! Before your SIG application can be reviewed by the ACBS board, you must submit the signatures in support of the development of the SIG to Emily in the main office. Only current ACBS members can submit their signature in support of the SIG. Officers' signatures do count, but it's a good idea to get signatures from those who are not officers as well. Electronic signatures are accepted (with the person's name, email, and full affiliation in the signature), and please compile them into one document before submitting them; do not send them to Emily individually. 

SIGs Made Possible By:

A big thank you to the international committee, coordinated by the lovely Robyn Walser, for their hard work toward making the development of both official Chapters and Special Interest Groups possible.

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