APS Site Visit Procedures

Here are procedures for an APS site visit to assess the climate for women and/or individuals from marginalized groups in an academic department or a research unit in a national or private-sector laboratory (hereafter referred to as the “department”). For visits to non-academic departments, the terms “faculty, students and staff” would be replaced by “scientists” or the equivalent, and the term “department chair” would be replaced by division or lab director or the equivalent.

Procedures for departments (in chronological order):

  1. Submit a site visit request: The chair of the department initiates a site visit request by filling out the request form on the APS site visit website. Further information about the site visit process can be obtained by contacting climatesitevisits@aps.org.
  2. Sign the MOU: Departments are required to sign an MOU that includes expectations of the department, site visit group, and the APS. Financial requirements are also stipulated in the MOU. Total average costs are on the order of $5,000-$7,000, not including honoraria. Departments should expect a visit to include travel/lodging/meal costs for a minimum of three site visitors, a logistics fee ($1,500), and an optional honorarium for site visitors ($1,000 per person). Scientific consortia and national labs may require a larger site visit group (with proportionally higher costs).
  3. Form a departmental team: Upon approval of the site visit request, the department should form a team (including the department chair) to interact with the site visit subcommittee and the site visit group (SVG). The department team (DT) should include at least one female faculty member; if none are available, a conversation with the Site Visit Sub-Committee (SVSC) is needed. Diversity in the level of seniority among the DT members is also strongly encouraged as it increases the effectiveness of the visit and the likelihood that changes recommended by the site visit group are effectively endorsed. APS recommends that the DT consult with students in as many aspects of the site visit and its subsequent actions as possible. Please consider the equity and workload incumbent to serving on this team.
  4. Schedule a videoconference with SVG: The DT is required to schedule a 30-min videoconference with the SVG 3 months prior to the site visit to communicate the purpose and expectations of the visit and address any related questions.
  5. Prepare the department for the site visit: Participation by a broad spectrum of faculty, students, and other members of the department is necessary for the success of the site visit. The department chair should clearly communicate the purpose of this site visit, and give the faculty an opportunity to discuss what they expect from the site visit and to prepare questions for the site visit group. Open and frank discussions should be encouraged.
  6. Conduct a basic Self-Study: The DT must conduct a Self-Study to assess demographics and identify policies and resources related to diversity and inclusion. A template of the Self-Study is available. This study must be completed and delivered to the SVG no later than 2 weeks prior to the site visit.
  7. Distribute APS Climate Surveys: A point of contact in the DT will receive a link to a confidential Climate Survey conducted by the APS and should distribute the survey to all members of the department (faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and staff) 4 weeks prior to the site visit. The designated person should send at least one reminder to fill out the survey approximately 1 week following the initial survey notice.
  8. Make travel arrangements: Coordinate with the SVG members about travel, dietary restrictions, and lodging arrangements no less than 4 weeks prior to the site visit.
  9. Prepare a visit agenda: The DT should work with the SVG-L to put together a comprehensive schedule of the visit. The schedule should include meetings with different members of the department, as well as a closeout meeting with the DT. A template for the visit schedule can be found here.
  10. Reserve meeting rooms: The DT should arrange good times and locations for meetings of the SVG with the different department stakeholders. The DT should also reserve a conference room for the SVG to convene and compose a report at the end of the visit.
  11. Participate actively in site visit: The DT should ensure good attendance by all participant groups in the relevant sessions.
  12. Report on site visit: The DT should provide feedback on the site visit via a satisfaction survey that they receive from APS Staff within a few days following the site visit.
  13. Receive site visit report: The DT should receive and review the site visit report, and distribute the report to any relevant stakeholders.
  14. Compose Action Plan: The DT should formulate an Action Plan, including SMART goals, based on site visit recommendations, within 10 weeks of the site visit.
  15. Send Activity Report: The DT is expected to compose a brief (2 page) Activity Report that includes actions takes, evidence for improvement, and next steps, and send this to the SVSC Chair and SVG Lead 12-14 months after the site visit to update them on the progress of the Action Plan and the effectiveness/impact of the site visit.

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