About Interest Groups

What are Interest Groups?

The activity of the Association in different scientific fields is organized and coordinated by groups of researchers from National Members and Individual Members called Special Interest Groups (SIGs).  Career, educational, historical, or other non-scientific aspects of crystallography are handled by General Interest Groups (GIGs).

  • A SIG (ideally) includes all the crystallographers working in a given area. In practice, the members of a SIG should include a sufficiently large number of people representative of that area.
  • A GIG is ideally meant to represent large groups of crystallographers united by common interests, needs and concerns that are defined by the GIG’s statute.
  • SIG’s and GIG’s (both to be now indicated as Interest Groups, IGs) organize their activities (meetings, seminars, workshops, schools, etcetera) and choose the best ways for exchanging information.
  • The name of the IG is proposed by its members.
  • The internal rules of an IG are proposed by the IG itself. However, each IG should elect at least a  chairperson and a vice-chairperson in charge of the conduction of the IG activities, who will interact with the Executive Committee and the Council of ECA and will be involved in the organization of the microsymposia at the ECA meetings (ECM’s).
  • The IG should construct and maintain a webpage, as well as a mailing list of the members.
  • The basic rules of the IG’s should be written in the official proposal which has to be submitted to the ECA Council for the approval. The rules should consider the periodic substitution of its officers (chairman, secretary and/or …..) and the criteria for the acceptance (as members of the IG) of the crystallographers belonging to the IG area.

Summary of legal rules about SIG’s

SIG’s are defined in the ECA STATUTES and BY-LAWS in the following terms:

  • By-Law 4.1: A Special Interest Group is a group interested in any particular scientific area of crystallography. A General Interest Group is a networking group focused on career, educational, historical, or other non-scientific aspects of crystallography.
  • By-Law 4.2: The formation of a Special or General Interest Group may be approved by the Council on receipt of a formal request from not less than 4 Councillors or 20 individual members.
  • By-Law 4.3: Each Special or General Interest Group is represented by a minimum of two officers: Chair and Vice-Chair elected from the Interest Group members. Officers are elected by members of the interest group for a three-year period and for a maximum of two consecutive three-year periods. For approval of a new Special or General Interest Group a founding Chair and a founding Vice-Chair are proposed by the promotors of the interest group.
  • By-Law 4.4: The results of elections of interest group officers must be communicated to the Executive Committee within one month after the elections.
  • By-Law 4.5: The Chair has the responsibility to promote and coordinate interest group activities, and to report them to the Executive Committee each year. The Chair must ensure that the interest group website is accessible and updated.
  • By-Law 4.6: The Executive Committee monitors the work of Special and General Interest Groups. In the case of a continuous lack of communication between Special or General Interest Group officers or other authorized members and the Executive Committee for a duration of 12 months or longer, the Executive Committee considers the interest group ‘dormant’, at which point the interest group is removed from the current ECM program committee. A dormant interest group can be reinstated on resumption of communication and activity to the satisfaction of the Executive Committee.
  • By-Law 4.7: The Executive Committee can recommend dissolution of a dormant interest group to the Council.
  • By-Law 4.8: The rules and regulations governing each Special or General Interest Group shall be approved by the Council
  • By-Law 6.4: Membership of a Special Interest Group shall not involve any additional fee to the Association, but the officers are required to be Individual Members.

Individual Membership is thus NOT required for becoming a member of a Special Interest Group (SIG) or a General Interest Group (GIG) provided you are working or living in a country which is a National Member of the ECA. Some SIGs or GIGs, however, require that you are an Individual Member for being listed as a ‘Founding Member’ (showing interest towards European cooperation in crystallography!).

Some common rules for the election of IG officers

  1. The IGs are coordinated by two officers: Chair and Vice-Chair. They are elected by SIG members and remain in charge for three years.
  2. The Chair has the responsibility to promote and coordinate SIG activities, and to report them to the Executive Committee each year. He/she must ensure that the SIG website is accessible and updated.
  3. The Chair may stay in charge for a maximum of two terms. If the Chair leaves his/her office before the end of the term, the Vice-Chair completes the term.
  4. The renovation of the officers takes place during the year following the IUCr Congress and General Assembly. The elections are preferably carried out at the SIG assembly during the ECM, or by electronic consultations. The results of the elections must be communicated to the Executive Committee within one month after the end of the ECM.
  5. The rules for the elections are established by each SIG.

Task list following the election/replacement of IG officers

  1. Inform the IG Officer of the Executive Committee and the Secretary of ECA about the change, providing the following information for the new officer:
    • Role
    • Full name
    • Affiliation
    • Email address
  2. Update relevant information on the Interest Group web page and on the ECA web pages.
  3. Inform other officers and members of that Interest Group about the change.

How to start a new SIG or GIG?

Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and General Interest Groups (GIGs) can be formed inside the ECA and must be proposed to the Council of the ECA (via the Chairman or the Secretary) by at least 4 Councillors or 20 Individual or affiliate Members; they are the Proponents of the SIG or GIG.

The usual procedure is:

  • One or more Contact Persons (Promotors) write a letter (e-mail) to the President or Secretary of the ECA with the proposal to the Council to establish a SIG or GIG, and this letter should be ‘signed’ (e-mail is O.K.) by the Proponents (4 Councillors or 20 Individual Members).
  • This letter or an enclosed document describes the SIG or GIG, and includes enough names of participating persons (Founding Members of the SIG or GIG) to ensure that the SIG or GIG can act as an ‘important scientific body’. This letter or document is the Inauguration Document of the SIG or GIG.
  • The Secretary circulates the proposal to the Council, for an e-mail discussion and/or an e-mail decision on the SIG or GIG.
  • The report on an e-mail decision or the final approval of the SIG or GIG will be on the agenda for the next Council Meeting.

Inauguration Document of a SIG or GIG

The inauguration document should contain

  • Name of the SIG or GIG
  • Name(s) of the Promotor(s) with e-mail address.
  • Short description of the purpose of the SIG or GIG
  • Names of the Proponents (4 or more Councillors or 20 or more Individual Members who propose the SIG or GIG to the Council).
  • Founding Members (those crystallographers who will constitute the SIG or GIG at its start): a sufficiently large group of well-known people to ensure that the whole crystallographic community working in the field of the SIG or GIG is represented (which means that we cannot have another SIG or GIG in the same field). [ The Founding Members may include the Proponents. ]
  • (Preliminary) rules of the SIG or GIG (e.g. plans for electing a chairperson, or a leading Committee, …. )
  • Any further relevant information.
  • (Preliminary) plans for the first meeting and election of the chair.