BISA Working Group Guidelines

BISA Working Group guidelines

1. Introduction

Founded in 1975, the British International Studies Association (BISA) is a leading learned society in the field of International Studies. BISA has a worldwide membership and provides a network for academics, students, practitioners and policy makers in the field of International Studies. Our main activities are the publication of our journal Review of International Studies and our e-bulletin International Studies Today, our annual international conference and our Working Groups.

Working Groups are a central element of BISA’s promotion of innovative research in International Studies. Working Groups develop specialist research agendas, foster dialogue and promote International Studies to a wider audience. Currently BISA has about 30 Working Groups [See Appendix 1 for a list of current Groups].

BISA Working Groups are formed by members who have a collective interest in a specific issue area of international studies. A Working Group typically develops a program of events over time intended to further the study of this issue area and promote its findings to a wider audience.

2. Setting up a Working Group

If you are thinking of applying to set up a new Working Group carefully review the fields, areas and topics covered by current Working Groups first. Please consider whether your ideas fit within an existing Group’s issue-area; if so, get in touch with the convenors of that Group to discuss how to proceed.

If you think that there is a significant gap which could be usefully filled by a new Group that would be sustainable beyond an initial event (ideally for more than 2 years) and would attract a sufficiently broad membership, send a proposal to the BISA office via email.

The proposal needs to cover the following information:

  •  Title of the proposed Group (ensuring that it will be clearly understood byother BISA members and a wider audience).
  • Names and contact details of the Group’s proposed convenors (ideally a minimum of two people so that the workload can be shared). We do not allow students to convene Working Groups on their own, although they may be part of a management team alongside professional scholars or practitioners. This team should be able to provide a stable basis for, and continuity of, the management of Working Group for a 2 year term.
  • Aims and objectives of the Working Group, including issues of overlap and joint-activities with existing Groups.

1 Version 1.0: December 2012

  •  Links between the proposal and the Association’s charitable objectives. All charities, including BISA, need to identify the public benefits of their work. Please identify how the new Group would contribute to this requirement, for example by engagement with policy makers, non-governmental organisations and the public, or by widening participation and disseminating information to non-scholarly audiences.
  • Details of how you propose to attract members, alongside a list of at least 20 named individuals who support the establishment of the Group. Ideally, this list should include a mix of senior and junior scholars, students and, where relevant, practitioners, policy makers and other individuals outside academia.
  • Information about proposed events and activities, i.e. seminars, workshops, conferences, journal special issues, edited books, policy reports, newsletters, blogs etc.Examples of previous successful proposals are available on request from the BISA office:

    There is no deadline for proposal submissions. Proposals will be considered by BISA’s Research Committee. If the Research Committee is satisfied that the proposal is viable, it will be recommended to the Board of Trustees which meets four times a year. This body makes the final decision to establish a new Working Group.

3. Running a Working Group

BISA requires a number of things from its Working Groups:

  • All Working Groups should have a constitution within 2 years of being set up. Working Groups should ensure that a copy of this constitution is sent to BISA. A constitution need not be elaborate, but should specify the following:
    • Name
    • Purpose
    • Convenors and other officers as well as their terms of office
    • How elections to offices are organised, when they will take place,how members will be notified and who can stand for office
    • Financial arrangements
    • How amendments can be made to the constitution
    • How complaints can be made to BISA
  • Working Group convenors and other officers are limited to two year terms of office. Nobody should normally serve more than two consecutive terms. Approval must be sought from BISA for any exceptions to the above.

2 Version 1.0: December 2012

  • Within two years of establishment, a Working Group must hold an election for its officers. Elections should normally be held every two years thereafter. If this is not possible BISA should be informed. Elections can be organised inexpensively using online tools such as SurveyMonkey (
  • Working Group convenors must be current members of BISA throughout the existence of the Working Group. We do not allow students to convene Working Groups on their own, although they may be part of a management team alongside professional scholars or practitioners. This team should be able to provide a stable basis for, and continuity of, the management of Working Group for a 2 year term.
  • Convenors should run the Working Group in a fair and transparent way in the interest of the membership as a whole. For example, it should be clear to members how they can propose events and on what basis it will be decided which events the Group supports.
  • We encourage Working Group convenors to promote BISA membership amongst their members – more membership subscriptions allows for increased funding for Working Groups. There will be a link between membership and the funding of Working Groups – those Groups that can demonstrate a higher number of BISA members in their membership will normally receive proportionally higher funding.Convenors organising Working Groups should also:
  • Register their database of information on members with HMG via (currently, registration costs £30).
  • Ensure that the Working Group operates within the policy and legal framework set by the BISA trustees board and Charity Commission, as well as any other relevant legislation, most notably that regarding sound financial management. BISA policies are detailed under the governance section of the BISA website (; other relevant

information is available through the Charity Commission (

4. Communicating Working Group Activities

It is important that Working Groups communicate regularly with their members, BISA and a wider audience. BISA expects the following:

Each Group will have an email mailing list. We recommend JISCMail ( for this purpose it is free and contains a number of powerful tools for the management of email lists.

3 Version 1.0: December 2012

  • Each Working Group should have a website within 2 years of being established. This website should display information about the purpose of the about the Group and its affiliation with BISA. It should also be regularly updated with details about Working Group activities. A blog is optional, but a good way to provide regular updates as well as commentary on events and research.,,, and provide free websites including blogs and other tools.
  • Working Groups should use part of their initial funding (see below) to purchase a suitable domain name and have it pointed to their site. It is important to purchase a domain name that is easy to remember and clearly associated with the Working Group. Domain Names are available from a variety of sources and are inexpensive costing around £10. BISA are happy to provide further advice on obtaining domain names.
  • BISA recommends that Working Groups also consider the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook to widen their audience.
  • All BISA members should be invited to participate in Working Group events through an open call for attendance – convenors should use the BISA website and email list for such calls. Information about Working Group events should be regularly passed to BISA for inclusion in International Studies Today and on the Association’s website. Where a Working Group has a website links should be made to the Association’s website.
  • Events (except conference panels) should be followed by a short written report and photos (if available) for inclusion in International Studies Today or on the Association’s website. BISA also welcomes copies of podcasts or video casts of sessions which can be made available to the wider international studies community.
  • Acknowledging BISA support
  • The BISA logo should be clearly and prominently displayed on all Working Group related materials (e.g., communications, website, programs for activities)
  • Acknowledgement should be made of the financial support provided by BISA in any publicity materials for events as well in publications arising from events sponsored by BISA.
  • We also ask that you introduce the Association and encourage event participants to join BISA during the event. Promotional materials are available from the BISA office and convenors should ensure they are circulated at events (please allow two months for materials to be printed, organized and dispatched).
  • All correspondence and publicity material, whether in electronic form or hard copy includes the phrase: “The British International Studies Association is a registered charity (No. 269284)”.

4 Version 1.0: December 2012

5. Working Group funding

BISA offers start-up funding of up to £1,000 to new Working Groups; thereafter, Working Groups are able to apply for funds annually, normally in November/December. The procedure for each year’s funding round will be circulated to convenors in advance of the deadline. Groups are usually limited to applying for a maximum of £2,000 per year. BISA cannot guarantee to allocate all the funds a Group applies for.

We encourage Working Groups to seek out matching funding contributions from other sources. Matching funding includes benefits in kind such as the use of rooms for a reduced cost.

Funding is assigned on the basis of: funds available to BISA; the strength of a Group’s application; the level of activity of a Working Group; the level of Association membership a Working Group has; and the matching funds a Working Group has been able to secure.

When applying for funds from BISA, it is necessary to provide a detailed budget rather than a ‘wish list’ of possible activities.

Working Group funding is typically (though not exclusively) granted for one of 2 purposes:

Travel and accommodation bursaries: BISA funds can be used for bursaries to provide support for travel and accommodation for Working Group event attendees. If Working Groups apply for funding to provide such bursaries they should pay particular attention to:

  • Research students and, on occasion, taught-course students.
  • Early career academics (up to 5 years post-PhD).
  • Associate (retired, unwaged) members of BISA.
  • Academics working full time in countries listed in Appendix 2.
  • Academics presenting papers at events.Convenors are advised to set a maximum level for bursaries to ensure there are no unexpectedly large claims. As a guide, BISA usually offers up to £200 per award. We advise you to reimburse only economy class transport (train, plane, bus, underground and ferry) and discourage car mileage claims unless a very good case is made in advance (i.e. disability, no public transport alternatives).

Meeting costs: In particular, funding can be used for:

  • Venue hire, refreshments, lunches and an evening dinner fordelegates. The award can also cover reasonable alcohol costs which

    accompany an event. However, bar bills will not be covered.

  • Reasonable expenses for keynote speakers, i.e. hotel, train travel, taxis, flights. Please note that BISA does not normally pay fees for

5 Version 1.0: December 2012

keynote speakers. Expenses should only be paid where receipts are


  • Hiring audio visual equipment.
  • Copying materials, printing delegate packs and badgesIf an event which was part of an annual funding application does not go ahead, BISA must be notified. If a suitable alternative event is not arranged, the funding for that event should be returned to BISA.

    Please note: Funding awards are not intended to allow convenors to make a surplus from events. Nor should surplus funds to be held in accounts year on year.

    General financial management

    Convenors should note the following:

  • BISA requires that funds are held and managed by one of the convenors’institutions. Where this is not possible a Working Group will need to establish a bank account in the Working Group’s name. Convenors must provide copies of account statements to BISA each year or on request. Convenors should ensure that all expenditure is accounted for.
  • An account of expenditure must be reported to BISA each year with the Working Group’s annual report. This should include an account statement. It is also necessary to retain all invoices and receipts for a minimum of 5 years should a charity commission audit be carried out.
  • Working Group accounts should not normally carry forward surpluses each year. Where they do, convenors should account for the surplus.
  • If costs of an event exceed funding, the convenors rather than BISA are responsible for the shortfall.
  • Where Working Groups are co-funded, the convenors should indicate the level of funding sought or secured from other bodies, details of the co- funding body and any conditions which have been made on funding in any application for funding.
  • BISA prefers that its members should not be charged for access to BISA supported events, although we understand that a small nominal fee may sometimes be necessary to cover costs or ensure attendance.
  • All invoices and receipts should be retained for a minimum of 5 years should a charity commission audit be carried out. If the group is de- recognised, invoices and receipts for the previous 5 years should be sent to BISA.
  • All Working Groups are expected to conform to BISA’s general financial guidelines (a copy of which can be obtained from

6 Version 1.0: December 2012

6. Reporting on a Working Group activities

BISA expects that Working Groups will be active. This means we expect Working Groups will:

  • organise at least one workshop per year,
  • regularly submit panels to the annual conference
  • hold an annual meeting of members (usually at BISA’s annual conference)BISA requires Working Group convenors to report annually both on their activities and financial accounts. Reporting from 2011 will be via an online form on the BISA website with the facility for accounts to be attached. In the interests of transparency, this information will be made available to all BISA members.

    The annual report is normally submitted at the same time as the annual application for funding and will be read in conjunction with the latter. Your report should include details of the current level of Working Group membership. You should provide a list of Working Group members who are BISA members, indicating their BISA membership numbers to facilitate verification. BISA will take annual reports into account when allocating funding. Not submitting an annual report is likely, therefore, to have a negative impact on a Group’s funding application.

    If the Group has been inactive in the last 12 months, you should still report indicating why there was no activity and outlining plans for the following year.

7. Closing Working Groups

If a Group does not report for 2 consecutive years, the Group will be automatically derecognised by BISA. If complaints are received about a lack of Working Group activity and/or a lack of response to those interested in joining a Group, this process may be speeded up.

BISA expects some natural attrition in Working Groups. Derecognising inactive Groups permits BISA to revitalise its portfolio of Working Groups and reinvest funds in areas of new interest for members.

8. Complaints

If anyone has a complaint about a Working Group or its activities they should try and resolve this in the first place with the convenors. If this is not possible they should direct their complain to the BISA Trustee responsible for Working Groups (currently Dr Martin Coward –

7 Version 1.0: December 2012

Appendix 1

BISA Working Groups (as of December 2012)

Africa and International Studies
Art and Politics
British Foreign Policy
British International History Group (BIHG)
Contemporary Research on International Political Theory (CRIPT) Critical Studies on Terrorism (CST)

Environment Working Group
Gendering International Relations Working Group Global and Transnational Politics
Global Ethics
Global Health Working Group
Historical Sociology and International Relations Insurgencies and Small Wars
International Law (IL)
International Mediterranean Studies
International Political Economy (IPEG)
International Relations as a Social Science
International Relations, Security and Religion Interpretivism in International Relations Working Group Learning and Teaching Working Group (BLT) Post-Structural Politics Working Group (PPWG)
Russian and Eurasian Security
Security and Intelligence Studies (SISG)
South East Europe
US Foreign Policy

8 Version 1.0: December 2012

Appendix 2

Countries to be prioritised for accommodation and travel bursaries

Burkina Faso,
Central African Republic, Chad,

Congo (Democratic Republic of the), Côte d’Ivoire,
Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho,

9 Version 1.0: December 2012

Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria,