3.6 The Honorary Secretary’s Responsibilities

3.6.1      Organising the SSM Committee’s meetings

Tasks include: setting the dates, finding a venue, organising refreshments (coffee on arrival, lunch for January & May meetings) agreeing the agenda with the President, circulating the papers beforehand, taking the minutes, and circulating these afterwards with action notes.

3.6.2      Outline Agenda for Committee Meeting

  1. President’s welcome and opening remarks
  2. Apologies for absence
  3. Minutes of the [insert number] meeting
  4. Matters arising from the nth meeting not covered elsewhere
  5. Any strategic agenda item (e.g. discussion of any proposed policy changes, initiatives to develop or improve the operation of the society etc.)
  6. Arrangements for the [current year] Annual Scientific Meeting
  7. September meeting only -AGM agenda
  8. SSM Sections
    • Early Career Researchers
    • ..
  9. Future annual scientific meetings:
  10. May meeting only – Cochrane & Pemberton Lectures [next year]
  11. One-day meetings
  12. SSM finances (accounts received at the September meeting before the AGM)
  13. Report of communications sub-committee
    • Newsletter
    • Website
    • Social media
  14. May meeting only – Nominations/elections for President elect (alternate years), two Ordinary members, Honorary Members of the Society and, if necessary, Honorary Treasurer, and/or Secretary
  15. Relationships and affiliations with other organisations
    • EUPHA
    • IEA European Federation
    • ..
  16. Any other business

3.6.3      The Annual General Meeting

The AGM is held at the ASM, usually but not always at the end of the first afternoon.  It is the Honorary Secretary’s role to ensure that all necessary notifications are sent out with sufficient time, as specified in the constitution, according to the timetable in Table 1.The AGM is quorate if 35 members are present.

Table 1: Notifications prior to the AGM (Business meeting)

To arrive by Notification Example dates
At least 8 weeks before AGM Notify members of honorary officers and ordinary committee members due to retire at the end of the year by 17/07
Call for nominations
At least 6 weeks before AGM Deadline for receipt of nominations. 31/07
At least 21 days before AGM Ballot papers sent to members if more nominations than vacancies by 21/08
Formal notice of the Scientific meeting and the programme sent to each member
Formal notice of and the agenda papers for the Business meeting
At the AGM A few printed copies of the Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports and the Agenda are distributed 12/09


Any business which requires a quorum of at least one-third of the membership, such as changes to the constitution, is voted on electronically after the meeting if the AGM is not quorate for that purpose.

Papers for the AGM

The agenda is sent to all members at least three weeks before the AGM, as specified in Table 1 above, together with any proposed constitutional changes, and notification of any proposed change to the annual membership fee.

The agenda, Honorary Secretary’s report, Honorary Treasurer’s report, audited accounts, report from Sections, and any proposed constitutional changes are circulated to the SSM Committee in advance of the September Committee meeting for information and, where necessary, discussion.  These papers, together with the minutes of the previous year’s AGM, are printed and distributed to members attending the AGM.

The Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports (but not the accounts) are placed on the main SSM website, and reports on sections on relevant section pages of the SSM website, after the AGM.

The minutes of the AGM are checked at the January Committee meeting and are then placed on the SSM website.

3.6.4  Outline Agenda for Annual General Meeting (referred to in constitution as the ‘Business meeting’)

  1. President’s welcome and opening remarks
  2. Minutes of the [insert number] AGM held in [city]
  3. Any matters arising in the minutes not specified below
  4. Any major policy issues (e.g. constitutional reforms etc.) to be discussed with the membership, where a vote may be needed
  5. Honorary Secretary’s Report
  6. Honorary Treasurer’s Report, including any recommendation on changes to the annual membership fee
  7. [From 2012 onwards] Communications Officer’s report
  8. Reports from Sections
    • Early Career Researchers
    • Others
  9. Organisational affiliations: Treasurer / Secretary, if relevant)
    • Report on EUPHA
    • Report on IEA European Federation of Epidemiological Societies
    • Others
  10. Election of:
    • President-Elect (on alternate years, to take office to coincide with the President’s second year as President),
    • two Ordinary Committee Members,
    • Honorary Members of the Society
    • other officers, if required
  11. Future scientific meetings
  12. Any other business

 3.6.5. Honorary Secretary’s Report

This covers the following:

  1. Annual Scientific Meeting [previous year]
  • Details of previous year’s ASM
  • Thank the organising committee
  1. Annual Scientific Meeting [current year]
  • of abstracts submitted, selected for plenary, oral or poster presentations
  • Thank the reviewers
  • This year’s invited speakers for Cochrane and Pemberton lectures
  • Thank the organising committee
  1. Archive
  • Report on the integrity of the Society’s archive, available via the SSM website (with the appropriate reference code) and at the Wellcome Trust.
  1. Future Meetings
  • Dates and location of following year’s ASM, and the year after that.
  1. One day meetings
  • in past year
  • planned
  1. The Committee
    • Membership of that year’s committee
    • Committee Changes – who is leaving (and thanks)
    • Results of elections – who is joining the committee
  2. Thank
  • those providing administrative support
  • newsletter editors
  • outgoing president and the committee
  • any others who have made substantive contribution to the SSM’s functioning that year (e.g. people who have help formulate policy or responses to external documents)

3.6.6      JECH

  • Liaise early in the year regarding publication of the ASM supplement, for delivery early September before the ASM.
  • Check the journal’s editorial list to ensure it is correct regarding SSM representation. Errors are not uncommon, with the list reverting to the names of the previous Honorary Treasurer or Secretary.
  • Send invoice for printing the ASM supplement to the Treasurer (or their administrative support) for payment

3.6.7 The SSM Archive

SSM papers have been archived since the Society was founded in 1957.  The SSM paper archive was transferred to the Wellcome Trust in 1988 (see Honorary Secretary’s Report 1988, page 2).  Paper documents have been transferred to the Wellcome Trust subsequently, covering the period 2003 to 2012.  In more recent years, there have been three sets of archival material, stored on the web (papers for Committee meetings and ASM papers as above, details of the ASM, including those giving the named lecturers, previous officers); and electronic and paper records kept by the Secretary.  Electronic records may be inspected by SSM members, by application to the Honorary Secretary.  The paper archives are given to the Wellcome Trust every three years or so.

It is the Honorary Secretary’s responsibility to maintain the SSM archive.

An online archive of ASM programmes and abstracts is available at www.socsocmed.org.uk/archive.htm.

3.6.8    Honorary Secretary’s jobs by month (table 3)

Jan Committee meeting Organise agenda and papers


Email Oversee committee meeting minutes – send draft to President, then final version to committee

Ask membership secretary to notify members  of ASM and abstract submission details

Advertise call for abstracts – jisc mailing lists, other societies (HSRN, SAPC, UKSBM, FPH, others to be advised by committee)

March Abstract deadline



Deadline for submission of abstracts – ask membership secretary to email  reminder a few days beforehand

  • Contact JECH regarding timetable for production of the ASM abstract booklet
April Email Send out agenda and papers for May Committee meeting


April/May Committee meeting for abstract review Organise agenda and papers; liaise with abstract moderators about papers on review process–
 Oversee committee meeting minutes

Remind the President to:

  • invite the Cochrane & Pemberton lecturers for the following year
  • offer honorary membership to the agreed individuals
June JECH deadline
July Circulate nomination forms for committee membership (including President-elect in alternate years)
August Circulate agenda for AGM, and ballot form for committee membership if required

Send out agenda and papers for September committee meeting

September Committee meeting Organise agenda and papers for  –morning of the 1st day of the AGM (usually Wednesday)
ASM Give secretary’s report at the AGM

Give result of committee membership ballot(s) at AGM

Email Oversee committee meeting minutes. Oversee AGM minutes

Send notification to elected honorary members

October Email Circulate Secretary’s report and AGM minutes

Organise dates for next year’s January and April committee meetings and book rooms

Obtain reduced subscription rates for SSM members from journals for following year

November Email Send thank you letters to retiring committee members
December Email Send out agenda for January committee meeting