Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014
The Board of the OR Society is considering the possibility of becoming licensed to award Chartered Scientist status. What is this all about, and is it worth doing?
In 2013 the ORS became a member body of the Science Council, a membership organisation bringing together learned societies and professional bodies across science and its applications. The Science Council aims to promote the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and education in science for public benefit. It currently has around 40 members, including the Institute of Physics, the Royal Statistical Society, and the IMA.
The Science Council defines science as “the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence” – a definition one feels would be sufficiently broad to encompass O.R.
Some years ago, the Council developed the Chartered Scientist (CSci) designation, “recognising high levels of professionalism and competence in science”. Their intention was to benefit the public, by having a badge of competence and professionalism that could be trusted; to benefit the profession, by encouraging networking, promoting continuing professional development (CPD) and benchmarking professional competence levels; to benefit employers similarly; and to benefit individuals by providing a qualification which could be recognised outside the specific discipline or sector, and demonstrate professionalism and commitment.
Although the OR Society is a member body, it is not licensed to award CSci to its members – this would require a considerable investment in both time and money.
Chartership, accreditation...what’s the difference?
When the OR Society brought in its accreditation system many years ago, it was an enormously controversial issue. There was a significant number who saw this as pinning down and ossifying an activity which should be continually developing and growing, adapting as necessary to novel issues and circumstances, and which is in many ways an art or craft as much as a science. No doubt there will be many who will argue that O.R. is not strictly a science and to label it as such might in some way diminish it.
CSci focuses on skills and behaviours: for example, “Exercise self-direction and originality in solving problems, and exercise substantial personal autonomy in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level”. Indeed, although the language is different, the requirements of CSci are very similar to those of accreditation at around the AFORS level.
There are two main differences between the awards:
- CSci has more demanding CPD requirements. Evidence of CPD in the previous two years is necessary as part of the application; and a Chartered Scientist must commit to on-going CPD and be ready to present a record of this when required;
- a CSci must comply with a professional code of conduct.
Is it worth doing?
Accreditation has not proved to be as popular as was originally expected. Obviously there are many reasons for this and one of them may well be that it does not automatically leaded to chartered status. Employers in the UK seem reluctant to insist on professional accreditation although one suspects few would consider it negatively.
Would CSci be any different? Probably. CSci, along with the other charters, are well-recognized internationally. Having members who carry an externally recognised badge may help raise the profile of O.R. professionals in their organisations. As to how many more members this would attract, it is very difficult to say. Again, it is unlikely to be seen in a negative light by those looking to join a professional organization but this may not be the case for those who are already members.
It would be major undertaking for the Society requiring a substantial investment in both time and money so it is essential that you tell us what you think. Would you be for or against and, if so, why?
Please send comments to Gavin Blackett, email@example.com
For more information about the Science Council go to www.sciencecouncil.org; for more information about Chartered Scientist go to www.charteredscientist.org