BOU peeps
In the first of a series of blog posts about the BOU and our activities, our own Steve Dudley looks at the BOU’s growing international community.

Steve Dudley

With limited resources and only two staff members, the BOU has something priceless – community – the lifeblood running through all we do.

I often think the BOU is a small society punching above its station. With a global membership and an international journal, IBIS, we might be a big bird in the ornithology flock, but we are still a small society in the wider scheme of things.

And it’s not just me that thinks so. In the 20 years I’ve been running the BOU, many people have commented that they thought we were ‘much bigger’ than we are. Why is that?

The answer is simple – it’s our community. Ornithologists have long been a gregarious lot, and it was the need to exchange ornithological findings and news that led to the formation of the BOU, and the publication of IBIS, in the 1850s. Yes, we really are that old!

Over the decades we have maintained the community ethos central to delivering what we do by recruiting people from within ornithology on to our committees and Council. Whilst committees and a Council sounds all too bureaucratic, it’s the formality of a society structure which is key to the delivery of what we do. And whilst the structure may be formal, how we do things is very informal – we’re all friends with a single aim, the advancement of ornithology. Ask the early-career researchers at our annual conference who are served drinks by our President!

Over 100 people make up our committees and Council. They are responsible for overseeing what we do and how we do it. Everything we deliver is touched at some point by them – publishing IBIS, running conferences, awarding grants and bursaries, our science communication – everything! Without our ‘family’, the BOU’s two staff members quite simply wouldn’t be able do our jobs, and deliver as much as we do.

Dudley_communityThe BOU – greater than the sum of our parts. Over 100 people make up our committees and Council, supporting our two full-time staff members. A further large community of reviewers support our journal IBIS

Take a look at our journal. Like other journals we rely on many more people than our immediate BOU family, with thousands of ornithologists reviewing papers for publication as part of the peer-review process. This system alone underpins scientific publishing and small societies such as the BOU would not be able to publish journals without the altruism of the scientific community. We’re not a fat cat publisher making large profits on the back of our community. We’re a society publisher ploughing profits back into the community, which helps us to support ornithology at the widest level.

Our community also keeps us young. When you’re over 150 years old this is no easy feat , with continued investment in early-career researchers, we are developing the next generation of the BOU family who will be responsible for overseeing what we do over coming decades.

And there’s more . . .

In coming weeks we’ll be posting blog posts explaining more about what we do and why we do it. In the meantime, read more about some of our community, about why they are BOU members and why and how they help us deliver our many activities.

More about the BOU
What does it take to run the #1 ornithology journal?
What makes a BOU conference?
The BOU – a personal perspective from the US
Funding ornithology – the work of the BOU Grants Committee
Listing into the future
BOU – we’re better when we’re together
Developing early-career researchers
Meet some of our members and those who help run the BOU

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