BSG Strategy 2009-2014
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BSG Strategy 2009-2014:
‘Raising the Profile of Ageing Research’
(Progress Update – June 2013)


This June 2013 progress update reiterates the Society’s commitment to its 5 year strategy; reviews progress and issues towards achieving aims and objectives in the period 2011-2013; outlines the key activities which have been identified for each task group for the remaining period of the present strategy; and makes proposals as to how BSG will generate its new 2014-2019 strategy.

The BSG’s Strategic Plan serves as our road map and guides us in establishing the annual goals we need to meet along the way. It helps us assess how far we have come toward achieving our strategic goals and recognises where we need to adjust our approaches to achieve better results. We deliberately selected a time frame of 5 years rather than 2 years (as previously) to ensure longer term planning and stability in taking initiatives forward.

As always, we welcome comments from our members in shaping the way forward for BSG. Please contact Rachel Hazelwood with any comments. Please follow this link to access the original strategy document.

Aims and objectives of the BSG Strategy, 2009- 2014:

The Society aims to promote the understanding of human ageing and later life through research and communication; and to foster the application of this knowledge to the improvement of the quality of life in old age.

The overall aim of the strategy is:

“To position the BSG as a visible world leader in the development of ageing research”

Objectives of the BSG Strategy, 2009-2013:

We were keen to ensure that the objectives and activities outlined in the strategy are achievable given the voluntary contributions of the Executive and the Society’s membership. The objectives of the Strategy are:

1. To support our members in further developing the national and international profile of the society;

2. To support our members in ensuring that the society contributes to strengthening the social sciences;

3. To support our members in advancing the Society’s aim of promoting the understanding of human ageing and later life through research and communication;

4. To support our members in fostering the application of this knowledge to the improvement of the quality of life in old age.

Progress to date in identified areas of activity (2009-2013):

Five main areas of activity were identified for the first two years: advising/lobbying; developing an impact brochure; identity; building capacity (Emerging Researchers in Ageing – BSG ERA); and financing the strategy. Under the leadership of members of the Executive, a series of task/working groups was established to progress these activities. In addition, we also retained some of the working groups outlined in the previous strategy (2006-8), namely Conference Liaison, Publications and International Relations. Membership of these groups is, of necessity, dynamic and overlapping as people join and leave the Executive and as BSG members volunteer and/or get co-opted to assist us with particular activities. At the end of 2011-12 it was decided to disband the Lobbying and Advice Group and rather seek advice on specific issues as and when the need arose. We also re –jigged some of the other groups (see next section)

The June 2011 update was able to indicate that all activities identified for Years 1 and 2 of the strategy were progressed. Ambitious targets were set for Years 3 and 4 broken down by each of the task groups. Considerable progress on the vast majority of these have been achieved and details can be found for the third year (2011-2012) in the reports presented by each group to the 2012 Annual General Meeting held at the Keele Conference – link . Good progress has continued to be in 2012-2013 with highlights including:

• Further consolidation of the financial footing of BSG which underpins the strategic plan;

• The move towards three year terms of officers to help ensure more follow through of key strategic initiatives;

• Major new book series entitled Ageing in a Global Context to be produced in collaboration with The Policy Press;

• Creation and development of a social media strategy to cover a discussion board for members as well as LinkedIn and Twitter options;

• Establishment of an archival strategy to ensure the history and impact of the Society is retained for the exploration by future generations;

• The development of ERA into a dynamic group running two events per annum for emerging researchers;

• Continued strong role in the British Council on Ageing with the two BSG representatives supporting the Chair to open up a debate about the future funding of gerontological research;

• Production of a BSG Handbook for Executive Members with a version soon to be developed for all members;

• Continued work with Age-UK in terms of a membership drive targeted at research interested senior staff from Age UK’s (brand) partners and moves towards an annual event with ILC-UK (BSG has memoranda of understanding with both organisations);

• Re-launch of the Small Grants Scheme as an Events Scheme with an emphasis upon grants and not loans which has led to a much higher take up than previously and hence is seeing BSG develop a wider presence than just the conference and ERA events;

• Discussions with Cambridge University Press about how BSG (and CPA) could work more effectively with them to promote Ageing and Society in the context of moves to open access.

Planned activities to support years 5 of the BSG strategy:

Advice and Lobbying

Although no longer a formal group, advice and lobbying remain crucial to the delivery of the strategy. Planned activities include:
i) Establish regular joint events with ILC-UK as a formal partner of BSG;
ii) Work with Professor Judith Phillips as Chair of the British Council on Ageing to
progress the debate as to why ESRC does not recognise social gerontology as a discipline;
iii) Continue to support social sciences through active involvement with the Academy of Social Sciences.

Lead Responsibility: Robin Means and Sheila Peace

Social Media and Communication Group

Planned activities include:

i) Improve the BSG website;
ii) Launch ‘Ageing Bites’ as an opportunity for members of BSG to reach a wider audience;
iii) Establish a more integrated approach to the use of the social media.

Lead Responsibility: Rachel Hazelwood
Membership: Sue Venn, Wendy Martin and Mo Ray, co-opted Debbie Price

Emerging Researchers in Ageing Group (ERA)

Planned activities include:

i) Delivery of two events, one on European funding in the autumn and the other a pre- conference workshop before the 2014 annual conference;
ii) Creation of links with the International Council of Gerontology Students Organisation (ICGSO) of the International Association of gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG);
iii) Explore a pilot mentoring project for emergent researchers;
iv) Integrate ERA into the next BSG five year strategic plan.

Lead Responsibility: Naomi Woodspring

Conference Liaison and Events Group

Planned activities include:

i) Liaison and support for the organizing teams for the 2014 and 2015 annual conferences;
ii) Further development of how best to support more small/local events;
iii) Supporting the President and Treasurer in exploring new approaches to running annual conferences.

Lead Responsibility: Cassie Phoenix
Membership: John Miles, Louise McCabe, co-opted Suzanne Moffatt

International Relations Group

Planned activities include:

i) Consolidate BSG’s relationship with HelpAge International;
ii) Ensure strong representation for BSG on Age Platform;
iii) Improve dissemination of international activities by BSG members.

Lead Responsibility: Alisoun Milne
Membership: Mary Pat Sullivan, Sarah Hillcoat-Nalletamby

Publications Group

Planned activities include:

i) Implementation of the archives strategy:
ii) Refreshment of the agreement of BSG/the Centre for Policy on Ageing with the Cambridge University Press with regard to Ageing and Society;
iii) Re-launch of Generations Review
iv) Launch of the new book series with The Policy Press “Ageing in a Global Context”

Lead Responsibility: Mary Pat Sullivan
Membership: Mim Bernard, Alisoun Milne, Robin Means, Suzanne Moffatt

Issues and Challenges

The five year strategy is a great success and has enabled BSG to make a step change in terms of its focus, impact and general professionalism. However, there have been some challenges as one would expect with a small learned society trying to achieve ambitious aims and objectives. From the perspective of the incumbent President, three issues and challenges stand out which are:

i) Inadequate resources: As indicated above, BSG is a relatively small society in terms of both membership and its annual financial turnover. This has made it challenging to achieve some of our aspirations in areas such as influencing a wide range of the academic and public policy debates in the way envisaged by the 5 year strategy. This lack of resources takes many forms but one of them is the limited administrative infrastructure to underpin officer activities despite the outstanding support received from our present administrator within her limited contracted hours. This situation can only be changed by increasing revenue. This is hard to achieve through increased membership income and suggests to me that the BSG Executive should take the brave step to take over responsibility for the organisation of the annual conference after Newcastle in 2015. This would need to be subject to a detailed business case being presented to the Executive in 2013-14 which evidenced how this increased responsibility would be managed and how it could achieve the desired financial outcome.

ii) Linking activities to objectives: When I first re-joined the Executive, I felt that there was a significant mismatch between our ‘high powered’ objectives and the reality of the more mundane but still very important activities that we engaged in. However, I came to realise that the vast majority of what we deliver year to year does in fact connect back to the core objectives but that we perhaps needed to get better at articulating this. For example, objective three is about ‘supporting members in advancing the Society’s aim of promoting the understanding of human ageing and later life through research and communication’. Thus, Ageing and Society and the new book series achieves this by opening up publication possibilities for established researchers; ERA is about supporting those new to ageing research to get to that point; and the Averil Osborn fund underlines our commitment to support non -traditional researchers. I would suggest that the new strategy links annual activities more explicitly to the new objectives as well as to BSG Groups.

iii) Helping members to achieve national and international impact: I would suggest the new objectives should place more emphasis upon the role of BSG in enabling individual members to achieve national and international impact rather than primarily stressing how BSG will achieve this itself. BSG has huge potential to act as a connecting platform and enabler especially if we can push forward our social media strategy to achieve its full potential

Next Steps

One of the tasks of the June Executive Meeting will be to decide on how best to generate the new five year strategy. The previous section is intended as a contribution from my particular perspective. Overall, I feel that what is required is an evolution rather than revolution with the focus very much on strengthening our implementation and delivery mechanisms. However, I will no longer be President when the new strategy comes into force and hence I feel that the lead in shaping the new strategy should be shared by President and the President Elect. Discussion of this paper will represent an important opportunity for the full Executive to express their views.

Robin Means
August 2013