Archived ISWA Constitution (1967-2016)

NOTE: This revised version of the ISWA Constitution was discussed at the ISWA Annual Meeting, Chicago, Ill., February 17, 1987.


(as approved by a General Meeting of the Association, Montreal 1967
with amendments September 1972; and February 1987)

1. Name

The name of the body to which this Constitution applies is the International Science Writers Association. (The terms “science writers” and “science writing” shall be interpreted to mean the popularization of science, i.e. the communication of information about science and technology to general audiences through various media, including both print and broadcast.)

2. Policies and Purposes

a) To provide a channel for the exchange of ideas and professional experience among those engaged in international science writing.

b) To develop and publish original studies and papers; to conduct meetings and to plan congresses and events with a view to improving international knowledge of science writing.

c) To foster the highest standards of science writing, especially throughout the developing world.

d) To negotiate with scientific bodies to obtain improved facilities for science writing.

e) To raise funds for awards, teaching, seminars, etc.

f) To undertake such other activities as may be of general benefit to all members.

3. Membership

Full membership shall be open to persons of known competence in science writing and who have practiced over a period of years. Associate membership shall be open to persons concerned with the dissemination of scientific information and willing to further the aims of the Association. Associate members shall not be entitled to vote. Institutional membership shall be open to organizations concerned with the dissemination of scientific information and willing to advance the objects of ISWA. Institutional members shall be entitled to send five of their members or employees to the Association’s events and meetings, but shall have only one vote. Members (full, associate, and institutional) shall not be entitled to publish any description, title, or letters to signify their connection with the Association, but, in so doing, not to suggest that they either speak for or represent official positions of ISWA.

4. Admission to Membership

a) All applications must be submitted on the standard application form of the Association.

b) All applicants will be asked to sign an undertaking on the application form that they have read and understood the Constitution and the Code of Conduct and that, if elected, they undertake to abide by them, and to accept the rulings of the Professional Practices Committee as duly endorsed by the Council.

b) Membership in the Association shall be conditional on strict observance of the highest standards of journalism. Wilful or frequent misrepresentation or inaccuracy, wilful breach of confidence, or behavior in any way prejudicial to the professional interests of the Association shall be considered in breach of such observance.

c) A member against whom a formal complaint of infringement of rule (b) is laid shall be called before a committee of three or more members in consultation with national colleagues of the member. the Executive Committee of which at least five members shall be present. A copy of the written complaint shall be sent to received by the respondent at least three weeks before the hearing. An adequate record shall be kept of the hearing. In lieu of a formal hearing, due to geographical restraints, a written complaint may be circulated to Council members—with a copy to the accused member—and judgments solicited by and received by the Association President. A summary decision of the Council, or the committee, as the case may be, will be provided to the member within three months of first circulation; however, copies of all comments (unsigned) will be made available upon request. Only the Council or the committee shall have the power to warn, suspend, or expel the member complained against. A written statement of the reasons for any suspension or expulsion shall be made to members of the Association at or before the next Annual General Meeting of the Association.

A formal complaint must be in writing and duly signed by the complainant. If the complaint originates from within the Association, it shall be signed by fewer than three members.

d) The Membership Committee (or the Council) shall be empowered to make all such enquiries and to call for all such evidence as it may consider necessary to reach a decision on any application for membership. In addition, the Membership Committee (or the Council) shall seek the advice of the appropriate recognized national science writing organization, where one exists, in the country of the applicant.

e) The Membership Committee’s (or the Council’s) decision to accept or to reject an application shall be final, provided that a candidate whose application is rejected shall be entitled to reapply for membership after an interval of twelve months from the date on which he was notified of the decision.

5. Subscriptions

The entrance fee and annual subscription shall be fixed by the Council from time to time by majority vote of the quorum in attendance at any duly called Council meeting, subject to three months’ notice being given to the membership of any proposed alteration. This power may not be delegated to the Executive Committee.

The fiscal year of the Association shall be the calendar year.

Any member whose subscription is six months in arrears shall be served with an air mail notification to the effect that if payment is not made within sixty days, the Council shall have power to terminate his membership. The Council shall have power to suspend or waive subscriptions in special circumstances.

6. Membership List

The Secretary shall annually circulate a list of members in good standing.

7. Administration

The organization shall be administered by a Council, in whom shall be vested fullest executive pcwers, provided that in the exercise of such powers no article of the Constitution shall be contravened.

a) Constitution of the Council

The Council shall consist of at least five members. The term of office shall be three years. One third of the Council shall retire in the first year, one third in the second, and one third in the third year thereafter. A member may offer himself for re-election for a further three-year term, after which he shall retire. The immediate past presid nt shall be a member of the Council.

The retiring member may stand for nomination and re-election after absence from Council membership of one year. Exception to the rule may be made by Council action when the term of office of an officer would be terminated thereby during his term of office.

b) Election of Council

Election shall be by the members of the Association, in conformity with procedures set from time to time by the Council. Casual vacancies shall also be filled by the Council for the remainder of the term for which the vacancy would have continued. Postal votes, unless otherwise stated, shall be allowed.

c) Meetings of the Council

All meetings of the Council shall be called by the Secretary and shall be notified at least two weeks in advance to all members of the Council, who shall be provided with an Agenda at least two weeks in advance. The Council shall meet in plenary session at least once a year. A quorum of the Council shall be five members.

d) Decisions

Decisions at all Council meetings shall be by simple majority, the Chairman to have a casting vote.
8. Officers

a) The President, elected by and from the Council for a two-year term, shall preside at all meetings of the Council and shall represent the organization on all external matters. The President shall also preside at the Annual Assembly of members. As executive in charge of administration of the affairs of the organization, the President shall carry out the Council s decisions and directions, enforce the Constitution, and serve as ex-officio member and chair of all Committees. and chair except the Executive Committee, which is chaired by the President.

b) The Vice-President, elected by and from the Council for a two-year term, shall deputize for the President if that officer is prevented from performing functions, and shall succeed to the Presidency at the end of the normal tenure.

9. Council-Appointed Officers

The Council shall be empowered to appoint such honorary or paid officers as it may consider necessary for the efficient conduct of the Association, provided that no such official shall vote in the deliberations of the Council unless he be a regularly appointed member of the Council. The officers must include a Secretary and a Treasurer.

a) The Secretary shall supervise the membership records, prepare the minutes of the Council and the Executive Committee, and generally oversee the administration of the Association. This appointment should be reviewed by Council annually.

b) The Treasurer shall supervise the collection and disbursal of all funds of the Association. Account books shall be available for audit and he shall present a financial report to the Council annually.

10. Committees

The Council shall be empowered to elect from among the members of the Association such committees as it may consider desirable. The Council shall appoint the Chair of each Committee who shall be an elected member of Council, shall be entitled to attend and speak on all matters discussed at Council meetings, but not to vote on any motion put before the Council, provided such a Chair, if not an elected member of Council, shall withdraw from the Council meeting if requested to do so by a majority vote of those members of Council present at the meeting. Due to geographical constraints, the Council–with agreement of the Association membership–may assume and perform many functions of the individual standing committees.

a) Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall consist of the President, Vice- President, Secretary, and Treasurer, together with the Chair of the Standing Committees. It may act on behalf of the Council but all its actions are subject to approval by the Council at its regular annual session. Decisions may be taken by the majority of those members present, provided that these include either the President or the Vice-President. Three shall constitute a quorum.

b) Standing Committee

i) Research Committee, which shall undertake research into matters affecting the interests of members.

ii) Membership Committee, which shall handle all applications for membership.

iii) Finance Committee, which, with the Treasurer sitting as Chair, shall concern itself with the income and expenses of the organization, prepare budgets for submission to the Council for annual approval, and consider short- and long-range fiscal problems of the Association.

iv) Professional Practices Committee, which shall concern itself with all recommendations for revision of the Code of Conduct and shall be responsible to the Council for enforcement procedure.

v) Annual Assembl Committee, which shall develop the programme of the Annual Meeting of the general membership.

vi) Visits Committee, which shall arrange visits on behalf of members.

c) Special Committees

The President shall have the power to create special committees for specific purposes, and shall appoint their Chairs, but must seek the ratification of Council for such action at its next meeting.

11. Amendments to the Constitution

This Constitution may be amended at any time by two-thirds of the members responding to a postal ballot, notice having been given in writing at least three months in advance of intention to amend the Constitution, together with the draft of the proposed change.