Group Name

Viewing 22 reply threads
  • Author
    • #109
      Darren KriticosDarren Kriticos

      For many years we have struggled with the name for the group.  During our third meeting at Costanoa we settled on “International Pest Risk Mapping Workgroup”.  As the group has matured, we have decided to develop a constitution and start to formalize some of the group’s processes.  That process has triggered a renewed interest in identifying a name that better suits the group.  This is an opportunity to voice your opinion.

    • #145
      Darren KriticosDarren Kriticos

      Proposal: Change the name to International Pest Risk Research Group (pronounced i-perg). It reflects what we do when we meet – we discuss research topics.

      The case against the status quo:

      1. International Pest Risk Mapping Workgroup, or IPRMW, is clunky and kind of a mouthful; it takes six syllables to pronounce.
      2. Calling ourselves pest risk mappers is misleading.  We have a broad set of interests.

      The case for the “International Pest Risk Research Group”:

      1. It is shorter and snappier and can be said in two syllables (pronounced i-Perg)
      2. It reflects what we do when we gather together – we discuss and progress research advances in pest risk modelling, mapping, communication, economics etc. Even a casual scan of our publications and presentations indicates that our primary modus operandi is to develop and popularise analytical methods to assist in managing pest risks.

      The Workgroup term in the existing name reflects something we hold dear about our meetings, the fact that we try to achieve advances during the meetings.  Removing it from the group name doesn’t mean that it is lost.  If this is something our stakeholders value, then we can address this through our communications and our actions.  It is exactly the same as building and defining a brand.

      Changing the name won’t mean losing a connexion with the past group products.  We can build and maintain linkages using the group website.

    • #272

      “International Pest Risk Research Group” seems to have a broader scope and potentially has an appeal to a larger science audience.

    • #276
      Tania YonowTania Yonow

      Having attended a single meeting, I would suggest that the original/current name of International Pest Risk Mapping Workgroup is misleading. An awful lot more than risk mapping happened at the workshop I attended. I would agree that the new “International Pest Risk Research Group” should have a broader appeal, and I also feel that it better reflects the nature and purpose of the group.

    • #282

      I agree – go “I-PeRG”

    • #283

      I have the following concerns about moving to a broader title such as the International Pest Risk Research Group:
      1. There is a danger that by broadening our focus we will lose sight of our original objectives as set out in the Bioscience paper (Venette et al. 2010. Pest risk maps for invasive alien species: a roadmap for improvement. Bioscience 60: 349-362). This paper set out 10 recommendations and a road map for producing invasive alien species risk maps. We wrote that: “The group of scientists who developed the recommendations above will endeavour to tackle some of these challenges”. By writing this, haven’t we set up an expectation that we will continue with our mission and that it should be clear in our title and objectives? These recommendations set out something tangible and possibly even achievable. I feel we have made some very good headway with all of these, as exemplified by the 10 or more articles in the risk mapping Neobiota edition in 2013 and the very recent publishing of the CABI book “Pest Risk Modelling and Mapping for Invasive Alien Species” that have led directly from our meetings. In August, it would be good to take stock of where we have got to on the road, which recommendations now need greater focus and whether we need new recommendations both to remotivate/stimulate those that have travelled along the road so far and also to attract new travellers.
      2. Governments and international bodies already invest a significant amount of money, time and energy in undertaking pest risk analyses (PRAs) and enhancing PRA processes. Such activities are clearly also pest risk research. By broadening our name, we will be considered to be taking on such things too, potentially leading us away from or at least diluting the key activities on mapping, modelling and the communication of risk/uncertainty that brought us together in the first place.
      3. Despite our current lack of constitution and cat-like approach to collective decision making, we have been remarkably successful in obtaining funds from governments and international bodies, such as the OECD, for our meetings. I think this has a lot to do with governments and international bodies readily appreciating the challenge of risk mapping/modelling and the value of supporting meetings that bring together the “best” risk mappers/modellers in the world to share thoughts, collaborate, identify and develop “best” practice. They may be less enthusiastic if we say/imply we are going to tackle all aspects of pest risk research. Although based on ISPM11, the methods used to conduct PRA vary between countries and there might be concerns that with a wider remit we might come up with conclusions/recommendations that could be perceived as running counter to some current national/international practice. It would also attract a different crowd of people who may feel relatively uncomfortable when exposed to modelling/mapping issues.
      4. Although currently rather inactive, the change in title puts us closer to the International Advisory Group on Pest Risk Analysis whose aim is not only to help increase capacity in PRA internationally in line with the IPPC framework but also to contribute to the continued development of PRA. See:
      5. By keeping the spatial/modelling aspects of our group up in lights, are we losing potential recruits to the cause? I don’t believe we have ever turned anyone way since part of our role is to encourage greater spatialisation of all types of pest risk models.

      My vote is therefore not for radical change. I agree “Research Group” is better than “Workgroup”. I agree that “Mapping” on its own can be considered as overly simplifying what we are about. I therefore favour including both “modelling and mapping” since one comes before the other. I therefore suggest:
      International Pest Risk Modelling and Mapping Research Group (IPRMMRG).
      Ok, its still clunky, but following I-PeRG, it could be pronounced as “i-PeRMaMeRG”!

    • #291
      Dean PainiDean Paini

      As a member of this group, I don’t consider myself someone who ‘maps’. I am a modeller and researcher of pests and risk (who might just generate the odd map now and then). To me, it makes much more sense to drop the mapping part and change to the suggested IPRRG. It is also a lot easier to say. I often stumble over the current name when mentioning it to someone else.

    • #310
      Frank KochFrank Koch

      I just tried it again – IPRMW actually takes seven syllables to pronounce! This is too many to use in general conversation.

      IPRRG – two syllables
      IPRMMRG – four syllables

      You know, Richard, that’s not too bad…the letterhead would have to feature a pretty small font to fit all those words, though.

      By the way, I assume you meant cat-herding-like approach to collective decision making…

    • #329

      I wonder how folks pronounce the IFQRG: International Forestry Quarantine Research Group ( Whatever else, they provide a good precedent for the use of “research group”.

      Yes cats are not well known for herding instincts or collective decision making!

    • #332

      I think Richard has a valid point (his first post). I may add that we need to consider the impact that the group name has on stakeholders and sponsor agencies. For a long time I did not like to consider myself as a someone who makes maps but I learned it was a helpful distinction when I realized my stakeholders wanted map products. I agree that the proposed name is leaner and cleaner “International Pest Risk Research Group” but I am afraid it obscures a major strength of this group: spatial modeling. A researcher does not have to be a spatial modeler to be part of the group but his/her research should contribute to spatial modeling. Of course within the research community, emphasize spatial analysis may seem something redundant (like emphasizing we conduct statistical analysis in our research) but from a stakeholder perspective I don’t think this is the case yet.

      This may lead then to what… “International Pest Risk Spatial Modeling Group” (i-pers-meg) or “International Spatial Risk Pest Modeling Group” (is-rep-meg) or something like that…

    • #333
      Robert VenetteRob Venette

      I support the “old” name. The name was selected through a deliberative process during the development of our group’s first major product, an article in BioScience that describes our roadmap to improve pest risk maps . The name has served us well.

      I realize that “mapping” may seem pedantic. Manuel captures the issue nicely. Our group relies on spatial models to characterize pest risk, and the results from those models are often most easily conveyed through the use of maps. However, to capture all of those ideas in an acronym becomes a challenge.

      The notion of being a workgroup has been important to our success. “Workgroup” was meant to convey the idea that this organization facilitates collaboration to solve problems. While I agree that it would be convenient to have an acronym that rolls off the tongue, I don’t think it is vital to the long-term success of the group. What is vital is to continue to continue to build productive collaborative partnerships and continue to demonstrate a record of success. The growth of IPRMW suggests that we are doing something right.

    • #335
      Darren KriticosDarren Kriticos


      I agree entirely with both you and Richard about the need to consider the impact on our stakeholders. I think we do them a service by coming up with a name whose acronym is easily pronounceable, and within that constraint, describes our purpose as succinctly and accurately as possible. If we have a suitable name, our stakeholders will be better able to remember us, and distinguish us from the groups who have poorly suited names.

      I agree that our geographical models are important. However, I think your point about spatial modelling being critically important under-rates the non-spatial modelling and research components within our group. Some purists would even argue that very few of our models have actually been spatial in the sense that space is a variable in the models. I think that some of Denys’ models include spatial epidemics. Mostly however our models are point models run on a lattice of locations and portrayed as a map. What is probably more important is that we have people bringing a wide range of disciplines and problems to the table that do not involve mapping, and adjusting the name to better serve spatial modellers comes at the price of introducing bias into the description of the character of the group.

    • #336
      Darren KriticosDarren Kriticos

      When you say the old name was developed through a deliberative process, my recollection is that we wrestled with the name problem at Costanoa until we were exhausted and thirsty. IPRMW was the least worst option on the table. We clearly have a different opinion about how well the old name has served us. I think most of us have resorted to referring to our group as the Pest Risk Workgroup or something similar in conversation, because I-P-R-M-W is unpronounceable in polite society.

      Your point may be correct that we could (potentially) continue to grow the group without adjusting the name. However, we have an opportunity here to come up with a name that does tick all the boxes. Why would we deliberately pass up the opportunity? IPRRG (i-perg) encompasses the boundaries of our group, so it is inclusive. It is the most easily pronounced of the options put forward so far. It is visually compact.

      Conveying the workgroup nature and other properties of the group to stakeholders and putative members is simply a matter of marketing.

    • #337
      Bruce WebberBruce Webber

      I hope nobody minds if I throw in a few other elements to consider. As a fringe member of the group, I’ve always been a bit put off from more substantial engagement because although I saw lots of like minded people doing things I found really interesting, the name didn’t really fit with something I thought would be appropriate to attend on a regular basis.

      1) ‘Mapping’ – I feel very strongly that if modellers are to produce output that is of greater use to end users and more reliable (our ‘best practice’ goal), then a map is just one of many tools they should use to present their findings. After all, mapping shows concepts in a geographical context, but what about all the other important contexts? What about the spatial/temporal elements of range/occupancy, such as in niche/covariate space? There are many other types of figures that we should also be including as essential output from our modelling efforts if we are to truly present useful models that are transparent and open to interrogation by people interested in using the output. Take a look at the ExDet tool for some examples of these other essential non-geographical ways we should be presenting our modelling. All of these graphical elements should be used together to convey overall risk/uncertainty for modelling. Stakeholders/clients may only know about and ask for maps now, but increasingly if we are to be doing our jobs well as modellers, we should be providing them with more than just maps. So my personal view is that ‘mapping’ is too narrow and not needed in the title.

      2) ‘Pests’ – As a plant focused person, I felt a little on the outer with this term. I have never viewed a plant as a pest. In the circles I have moved in, unwanted taxa follow an animal = pest / plant = weed / microbe = pathogen lexicon. I recognise, however, that terminology varies considerably between countries, and that this is a global group of people. I also recognise that given point 3 below, it would be hard to have all three terms in a title, and of all three, pest is really the only term that is vaguely possible to apply as an ‘umbrella term’ over all three groups.

      3) Despite all the discussion around which words to include, I think there definitely needs to be a change in the current title. This is purely from a marketing perspective. I think we are all becoming more aware of just how important marketing is in science these days, so both the content of the title and how it is pronounced is really important. Based on many common examples, if the title has to be pronounced as a string of letters rather than a word, it would be better to have it less than 4 letters long. If it can be pronounced as a word, then longer is probably OK, but the catchier the better. Given the above, IPRRG is preferable over IPRMW, but is there something better that we can find?

      PS – Regarding Rob’s point above, given that most of us have research as a core element of the work we do, then I would like to think that ‘research group’ and ‘workgroup’ are relatively interchangeable in this context (i.e. both convey the concept of facilitating collaboration to solve problems), but perhaps I have misread the group in this regard?

    • #340

      I’m not a mapper either, but I don’t view that as an important consideration. I view the title as normative – describing the purpose of the group – rather than descriptive – describing the common characteristics of the group.

      How about “International Pest Risk Mapping Executive”, acronym pronounced I-Prime?

      (PS I was briefly tempted by Guild of International Mappers of Pests … )

    • #343
      David CookDavid Cook

      Apologies for joining the conversation late, but a few alternatives to add to the mix:
      a). Plant Health Risk Analysis and Communication Tools Alliance – PHRACTAl, pronounced “fractal”;
      b). Association of Spatial Plant Health Risk Analysts – ASPHRA, pronounced “asfra”;
      c). International Spatial Communication of Biosecurity Risk Group – ISCBRG, pronounced “iceberg”;
      d). Helping International Plant Pest Institutions with Eradications – HIPPIE, pronounced “Frank”…

    • #345
      Frank KochFrank Koch

      ha ha…don’t quit your day job.

    • #353
      David CookDavid Cook

      Well, d might be a stretch, but a, b and c were intended as serious suggestions taking on board much of the discussion above. In the case of a or b “analysis” is interchangeable with “assessment” – it might be splitting hairs but I’d guess most in the group are more in the game of assessment. But, no harm in having the linkage to policy more explicitly via the term “analysis” in the title. Either way, they’re catch-all words that encompass modelling, mapping and decision-support more broadly, widening our net in terms of potential participants with new ideas. Moreover, the acronyms are catchy, innit.

    • #357
      Frank KochFrank Koch


      Your acronyms are catchy, I’ll give you that. However, there are a couple of other constraints on the name that maybe aren’t captured in this forum: (1) the name should include the phrase “pest risk” so we can maintain a straightforward link to our URL (,, and (2) the name should include the word “international” to reflect the scope of the group.

      Hours before your most recent post, the constitutional committee identified a set of four names, including the current name, to put before the entire group for a vote. I’m sorry to say that none of your suggestions made the list…but I’m more than happy to sell you the full naming rights to the group for an appropriate amount.

    • #361
      David CookDavid Cook

      How much? Will a jar of Vegemite cut it? No worries fella, apologies once again for joining the conversation late but sounds like you have it all sussed.

    • #362
      Dan BorchertDan Borchert

      ICEBRG This is the best one. A write in vote.

    • #363
      Bruce WebberBruce Webber

      International Pest Risk Mapping Workgroup – IPRMW – pronounced “i-p-r-m-w”
      International Pest Risk Research Group – IPRRG – pronounced “i-perg”
      International Pest Risk Modelling and Mapping Research Group – IPRMMRG – pronounced “i-per-ma-merg”
      International Society for Pest Risk Modelling and Mapping – ISPRMM – pronounced “is-prim”

      Wow… I’m surprised – after all this time and careful consideration, these were the best four options available? With all due respect, we may be good at our science, but has anyone thought to consult a professional marketing person with this identity/name challenge?

      And as an aside, shouldn’t ISPRMM actually be pronounced I-SPERM? Isn’t that a little off topic?

    • #364
      Frank KochFrank Koch

      I don’t know many marketers who work for free, and we have no budget. Besides, we’re not selling shoes (a case where we might actually have a budget for marketing). We just need a name that describes the group reasonably well, gives those outside the group a point of reference, and isn’t too awkward in conversation. Yes, we’re a bunch of scientists — if the name was too creative, pithy, or catchy, our bosses would probably become suspicious (and starting poking their noses into our business, which would be the worst possible outcome).

      At the very least, the four candidate names satisfy the constraints I mentioned in an earlier post (that the name should include “pest risk” and “international”).

Viewing 22 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.