As you research various professional organizations, consider the following:


All professional organizations share certain characteristics. They may accomplish them through one or more of the following activities:

  • They seek to further a particular profession through developing standards, guidelines, and assistance in understanding the field of study.
  • They support and produce research in a field of study.
  • They produce one or more journals that contain peer reviewed articles about research topics.
  • They may also publish related blogs, websites, solutions databases, and professional guides.
  • They sponsor conferences and other professional development opportunities for their members.
  • They are almost always non-profits, but may have a for-profit arm of the organization.
  • Membership is almost always restricted to members of the profession, and dues are required. Some professional organizations have different levels of membership based on your relationship to the profession, for example: student member, vendor (those who sell products members might be interested in), and citizen supporters.

Professional organizations are, therefore, more structured organizations than communities of practice. As with communities of practice, there are professional organizations to advance the profession of scholarship in the humanities and other academic disciplines.


If you are in college to attain credentials or enter a profession, such as teaching:

  • It is expected that you will keep up with the current research in your field.
  • You will gain an in-depth understanding of the standards and professional behavior associated with the profession.
  • Membership in a professional organization adds validity to your academic credentials and in some cases certifies you for specific activities within the profession.
  • You can meet colleagues and mentors who may help you or provide guidance on tough challenges.
  • Through your membership dues, you are supporting the profession you have chosen.


While it is true that not all legitimate professional organizations meet the scholarly profile outlined above, some organizations are in fact not legitimate. This is where thinking critically about what you find is so important. It may take some digging, but the following questions will help you decide: Is it a legitimate professional organization or a commercial group masquerading as a professional entity?

  • Are they selling commercial products? This is different from selling a journal or access to an article. Professional organizations may provide an overview of the best products available, but rarely will they endorse one product.
  • Are they supporting a political candidate? This is different from taking a professional position on a policy issue, so this can be tricky. Some professional organizations do support political candidates but they will be very clear about their reasons.
  • Are they supporting legitimate research? Research is ongoing–there is never a final answer. Beware of any group that claims its research has found the definitive answer to a particular problem, particularly if they are using research results to sell projects.
  • Look at their publications. A legitimate professional organization publishes in a way that will consider all relevant points of view.
  • Who are the leadership group? They should come from the membership ranks.

Examples of Professional Organizations

Exploring Current Trends

For each of the organizations you selected, review the website for evidence of the topics that are of current concern to the organization. To find this information, look for the following on the website: Latest News, Most Popular Topics, Most Discussed, Events, Publications, Reports, and Tag Cloud.

As you explore the websites, you should also look for standards for the field, resources, and discussion forums that can be accessed by nonmembers. Determine what topics and issues seem most important to that particular organization.

Resource Management Tips

Resource Management Tip #1: In an upcoming assignment, you will be exploring the role of social media in your field. If you see that the professional organizations you’re reviewing this week use social media for any purpose, making a note of it in your Evernote notebook now will give you a head start on that assignment.
Resource Management Tip #2: Many professional organizations publish a journal, which usually can’t be accessed on the website without a subscription. You should make a note of these journal titles in your Evernote notebook to follow up on; chances are the CPS Library subscribes to them. If so, you can then plan to include the journals in the Information Resources section of your annotated bibliography.


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CRIT 602 Readings and Resources by Granite State College (USNH) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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