The status of INNGE after 3 years

Reblogged from INNGE's blog, originally posted on Tue, 08/13/2013 - 17:07


In one week, INNGE will celebrate the third year of its existence at the 11th meeting of the International Ecology Congress (INTECOL2013). INTECOL 2013 will mark the implementation of a newer, stronger INNGE (version 2.0, if you will). We’d like to take this opportunity to provide everyone with an overview of what we have accomplished since the initial conception of INNGE “the idea” in 2010. In a subsequent blog post, we will look forward at where INNGE is heading after INTECOL 2013.

So what did we actually accomplish?

The first years of human life are characterized by continued development, based to a large extent on trial-and-error. While trial-and-error was an important tool in the first of years of INNGE, we have begun to realize the vision of an international community platform for early-career ecologists. Here we will briefly review the activities that characterized the infant stage of INNGE.

Connecting the early-career community

A prime purpose of INNGE is to ease the sharing of ideas between members of the early-career community, whether it is between early-career groups, between individual researchers, or via assessments of collective opinion.

What do early-career groups do? 

One of the first things to go up on our website was a set of examples of what early-career groups do in ecological societies, such as the BritishAustralian and American ecological societies. Examples span from the training at the annual meetings, to talks and poster awards, to the role of student sections in extraordinary events such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. As more examples are added over time, the diversity of this catalog could be an important resource for newly started early-career groups in ecological societies and on the web.

Reporting the latest from conferences 

To complement the early-career idea-catalog, short reports from conferences have provided insight into the functioning of ecological societies and summaries of meeting discussions. Over time we have reported from meetings of the British Ecological Society, the re-vitalized Danish Ecological Society - OIKOS, and theInternational Society for Statistical Ecology

EcoBloggers - a roaring river of ecological ideas 

It has never been easier for individual researchers to communicate ideas and research results to the entire world wide web. However, with the increasing number of individual blogs it is becoming harder to tap into and participate in this rushing stream of information. So while it is becoming easier to get the message out, it is becoming harder to reach the entire target audience and for the target audience to find relevant information. This mismatch can be fixed through the aggregation of individual blog streams.

INNGE launched EcoBloggers in early 2013. Working as a simple RSS feed it offers the one-stop shop opportunity to monitor more than 25 ecology blogs and blogging communities. EcoBloggers is heavily inspired and takes its name from a blog aggregator for the statistical language R, R-bloggers. EcoBloggers has the potential to connect researchers around the globe, and illustrates how international networks can help enhance the voice of the individual.

A survey of ecologists’ satisfaction with their quantitative skills 

Another way to connect a community is through the creation of an understanding of overall opinion in the community. During the spring of 2012, a team of INNGE members led by Fred Barraquand conducted a survey on the current state of quantitative training in ecology. We received 937 answers to the online questionnaire with the results highlighting a dissatisfaction with own quantitative skills. You can still catch a summary of the resultshere or wait for the manuscript currently in preparation. In the future INNGE hopes to carry out a regular survey and assist early-career ecologists with answering questions about their own community.

Discussing open-ecology and peer review

A topic that, from the start, gathered much attention was the discussion of open science in the context of ecology. The very first blog post to go up in August 2011 was about open data in ecology, and the benefits and challenges associated with this change to a more open scientific enterprise. The early blog post by Scott Chamberlain remains one of our most widely read posts.

New initiatives to improve reviewing 

INNGE’s blog continued to be a centre of activity for the open-ecology discussion. The early blog posts aboutopen data and controversial legislation about access to online information were followed by a focus on incentives in the reviewing process. Interviews with both Peerage of Science and Scholastica highlighted new opportunities in peer-review offered by an open online process.

The interviews of Scholastica and Peerage of Science were complemented with a perspective on the the peer-review process by former Editor-in-Chief of Ecology Letters, Mich Hochberg. This blog post was the first in our series of next-generation point-of-views. In the blog post Mich highlighted three suggestions for improving the reviewing process:

  1. online repositories to improve manuscripts
  2. rewarding good reviewing, and
  3. better mentoring of what constitutes a good review

Peer review mentoring implemented by the New Zealand Journal of Ecology

Moving on Mich’s third point and based on recent proposals to alleviate the peer-review crisis, a mentor scheme for new reviewers has been launched for the New Zealand Journal of Ecology; as far as we know, the first such scheme for an ecological journal. The scheme provides new researchers with training in the writing of constructive and good reviews, while at the same creates a greater pool of reviewers in ecology.

Preprints in biology 

The second of Mich’s suggestions were followed up by a guest blog post highlighting the benefits of open preprint repositories like arXiv for the biological sciences. The post emphasized the relative pre-print deficiency in ecology compared to other natural sciences. This idea found so much traction among authors and readers that the blog post, through collaborative writing, developed into a perspective in PLoS Biology: The Case for Open Preprints in Biology.

From discussion to implementation? 

Open-ecology and changes in modes of scientific publishing are likely to continue to be of high interest in the community of early-career ecologists. In the future INNGE hopes to expand from mainly being a center of discussion to facilitate the implementation of open-ecology initiatives and more. Stay tuned.

Working for interdisciplinary opportunities

Ecology is a fundamental discipline for the sustainable management of human society and biodiversity at a broad level. Several international activities are currently being developed to help reach these two goals. This international, interdisciplinary and policy-oriented part of ecology is not always easy to follow and access for early-career scientists. Over the past three years INNGE has been involved in shaping and communicating several of these initiatives, and has reached out to economists to create new interdisciplinary opportunities.

Future Earth - a 10 year global effort in sustainability science

Future Earth is a 10 year initiative to advance the transdisciplinary science of sustainability. Started at the Rio+20 summit in 2012 one of the goals of Future Earth is to “…engage a new generation of diverse researchers from all regions.” INNGE has, during the past year, been engaged in Future Earth in a number of ways including:

  • working with the leadership of ICSU to find ways Future Earth can reach early-career scientists
  • sending a letter of recommendations for broader integration of early-career scientists in Future Earth to the Future Earth leadership
  • working for the organization of a young scientist conference in 2014 with a theme that integrates ecology and economics
  • participation at the Future Earth Regional Workshop for Europe in Paris, May 13–14 (2013).

Most recently, INNGE has announced it will work to bring together an alliance of early-career organizations with connection to Future Earth. We hope to be able to bring more news about all of these initiatives post INTECOL 2013.

Communicating IPBES - the IPCC for ecology

It is not only in sustainability science that new opportunities are emerging for early-career ecologists. 2012 saw the initiation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES). On the blog and in the newsletter, INNGE parsed the development during the first plenary session of IPBES, to make the complex structure and political lingo more accessible to early-career ecologists.

Linking up with young economists 

We recently announced a partnership with the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Young Scholars Initiative (INET YSI). The first activity will be a seminar series in ecology and economics, and will continue to develop from there on. The partnership falls well in line with the focus on communicating the interdisciplinary context of ecology.

Skill-sets for careers outside academia 

recent survey indicates that training of graduate students in the biological sciences is mainly oriented towards an academic career. In a sense, Future Earth and IPBES are both signs that the number of career paths currently available outside academia are likely to occupy a growing proportion of ecology PhDs. We used a next-generation point-of-view blog post to highlight a recent study by graduate students, for graduate students, about what skills employers look for outside academia. INNGE will continue to communicate and work for interdisciplinary opportunities for early-career ecologists.


A big focus during the past two years has been preparing for the 11th International Ecology Congress (INTECOL 2013) which kicks off in London, very very soon.

A festival of next-generation activities 

We will host a wide array of engaging events at INTECOL 2013. Members of INNGE will be present in London and we are proud to offer activities on five out of the six days of the congress:

  • On the inaugural Sunday we will host four skills workshops directed towards early-career ecologists from the undergraduate to the junior professor level.
  • Monday night is the time for our social event where we hope many early-career ecologists will join us for casual discussion over a drink of your choice (stay tuned for details).
  • From Monday till Wednesday in the lunch-time session we will showcase three PechaKucha sessions, featuring renowned as well as up-and-coming ecologists, and a diversity of ecological societies.
  • On the Wednesday together with the PechaKucha talks is also when we have our first business meeting which is your chance to influence the direction of INNGE.
  • Finally, on Thursday it is time for a workshop on social networks in ecology, including Ally Phillymore and Walter Jetz and moderated by Jenny Talbot.

Make sure you stay tuned to postings online and at the conference center in London. Check Tom Ezard’s recent blogs posts to get more info about INNGE workshops at INTECOL 2013 and for advice on using public transit in London. There may not be a better opportunity to interact with the global early-career community until the next INTECOL congress in 2017!

Serving the global community on the board of INTECOL 

We are thrilled to announce that, beginning with the meeting in London, INNGE will be represented by two early-career ecologists on the board of INTECOL. This is an extraordinary warm welcoming of INNGE to the INTECOL community. We will work tirelessly with the rest of the board to increase the sense of community among early-career ecologists as well as senior ecologists, and to increase the role of ecology in science and society over the coming years. In the first two years, INNGE will be represented by Naupaka Zimmerman and Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, both co-founders of INNGE.

INNGE - organization in progress

It should visible from the review of the three first years that INNGE is working on many fronts to increase opportunities for ecology and early-career ecologists. News about INNGE has been communicated in thenewsletter of INTECOL, in an interview on the Journal of Ecology podcast, as well as in the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society. The network has itself evolved continuously over time. As we approach London some areas of progress deserve mentioning.

The working-group and nodes help coordinate activities 

The many activities of INNGE have been coordinated by a ten member working group. A list of nodes provided a discussion forum for communication among early supporters of INNGE (institutions and individual ecologists).See the list of nodes at the end of this newsletter.

Membership implemented

INNGE now offers formal institutional membership, with each institution choosing early-career representatives as their voice in INNGE. Today, member institutions are spread over five continents [Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America] and we hope interest will continue growing after INTECOL 2013.

Bylaws set the framework for the future 

The current institutional members have all signed up under a set of bylaws for INNGE that will be formally approved in London. These bylaws set the overall framework for the future development of INNGE, including the important upcoming elections of a new and stronger INNGE leadership.

Now we need your help!

At the end of 2013, a new leadership of INNGE will be put together. The idea of INNGE is indeed ambitious; we need your participation to succeed in enhancing opportunities and in increasing interaction and collaboration among early-career ecologists.

To succeed, INNGE needs a skillful, talented, dedicated and diverse group of early-career ecologists. In all of the above activities, your participation will make a difference. At the same time you are likely to take something from your participation that you wouldn’t have found in other places.

The future of ecology will continue to belong to the next generation, and we need younger as well as older early-career ecologists to make this future brighter.

Make sure to catch the upcoming blog post about opportunities for participation in INNGE after INTECOL 2013

Best regards, INNGE’s working group