Working Group Instructions

The Question

The Breakthrough Listen Working Group asks:

“How should Breakthrough Listen and other SETI researchers prepare for potentially making contact with ET? How should they respond to a signal? What are they missing?”

The goal is for each Working Group to formulate a response to this question. It’s up to the group to determine how best to do this. You may wish to have a phone conversation, take notes, and amalgamate them; use a shared online document for collaborative group editing; or gather abstracts and thoughts via email exchanges. The aim is to build your statement as a starting point for the online workshop conversations between the invited Working Groups and the Breakthrough Listen Working Group on May 29th and May 31st. Below you will find a suggested guide for one way to collaboratively create the statement.


Consult the Breakthrough Listen Working Group statement.
Also refer to the Breakthrough Listen Fact Sheet 2018.

Please format your statement using this template:

Download Link to Working Group Statement Template (docx)

Please email the formatted statement in a Microsoft Word document (for accessibility considerations) to Claire at [email protected] by the end of May 26th, 2018 for distribution on May 27th.

Working Group Statement Creation Guide

Writing Abstracts – (Now to May 16)
  • On or before Wednesday, May 16th: Each member of the working group contributes an abstract length (~250-500 word) statement summing up key issues, questions, reflections, etc. that respond to the workshop’s primary question: “How should Breakthrough Listen and other SETI researchers prepare for potentially making contact with ET? How should they respond to a signal? What are they missing?”
  • Your contribution to the statement can be based on your experiences, research, history, speculation, the literature, etc. Distillations of past scholarship are welcomed.
  • In addition, each member contributes a bibliographic list of resources (journal articles, books, popular media, news, films, artworks, etc. as you’d like) that complement, back-up, support, or expand on your key points.
Collaborative Statement – (May 17 to May 26)
  • Working Groups will assemble abstracts into a collaborative document, which is then opened for group edits online beginning on or before May 17th.
    Statements can be a co-authored document or a collection of individually authored statements.
  • The statement could also be prefaced with a list of key points, summaries, questions, maxims, quotes, etc. which could be addressed by members who want to do so during the online workshop.
  • Include your group’s bibliography at the end of your group’s statement (for both citations and further reading).
Workshop – (May 29 & May 31)
  • Statements and reference lists will be pre-circulated to the Breakthrough Listen Team and other Working Groups on May 27th. They will be used as the spark for conversations taking place on May 29th and 31st.
  • These statements will be available on Google Drive after the event.

Working Group Conversation Guide

  • Making Contact 2018 is not a public event. Only invited working group members and invited viewers (SETI community folks, U.C. Berkeley astronomers) have access to the Zoom meeting and the Working Group Statements.
  • At the beginning of each conversation, the moderator (Claire Webb) will introduce you to the Breakthrough Listen group.
  • The statement you create collaboratively with your group is meant to be a starting point for your conversation with the Breakthrough Listen working group. You may use this time as you wish: make an introductory statement, summarize your statement, or go right to discussion. It’s up to your group.
  • As all statements will have been posted on May 26th, and shared with all Working Group members and viewing participants, you can assume that folks will be at least familiar with your topics.
  • Based on the size of the group, and members’ availability, most of the sessions are 1 hour long: 45 minutes of discussion; 15 minutes of Q&A with members of the SETI community, other working group members, and viewers, facilitated by the moderator.
  • Please feel free to join as you wish! For sessions other than your own, you can be a viewer and participate in the Q&A. We’d love for you to participate as much as you are able.