ESRC Final Year Conference

On Friday I attended the ESRC Final Year Conference in Edinburgh, which was hosted by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. I just wanted to write about some of the key points that were made in various sessions and what I took away from them.

  • I need to be able to demonstrate that my research has impact beyond a contribution to changing theory and discourse in the academic field I’m working in. Thankfully this is a bit more obvious in the topic I’ve chosen, and it was always the aim that my work would contribute to the development of information literacy in practice, and hopefully it will. However, I need to do more about getting it out there and communicating its value and how worthwhile it could be.
  • The ESRC Research Data Policy is “based on the principle that publicly-funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest and, therefore, should be openly available to a maximum extent possible.” I need to work out how I can make my data available!
  • Career-wise, it’s approaching the time I need to be looking at applying for postdoctoral research and other options. The session on how that actually works and the practicalities of it was incredibly useful, and it’s made me feel a bit less terrified of it.
  • Although I found the careers session and the statistics about employment a bit sketchy, I do intend to work my way around the Researcher Development Framework wheel and its lenses, and identify areas I need to strengthen, as well as create a little portfolio grid of the skills I have and examples to justify them. This includes working out ways my academic skills are transferable, as well as the ways work I’ve done in non-academic areas does count within academia.
  • As a librarian, I’m part of a huge network of people who are social media users, and I was surprised (again) to find that in other disciplines there’s a lot of reluctance to use social media and the recurrent comment “oh but it’s such a waste of time, you must spend forever on it and it’s pointless”. I spent a lot of time in Hazel Hall’s session responding to that kind of response with the challenge “go on then, tell me your research topic and I’ll give you an example of how using social media can be useful!” As always, Hazel’s session was well-structured and fun and I still took something away from it.

Of course, the most valuable part of the day was being able to meet people with similar interests in different academic fields and talk to them about what they do. I was so pleased to meet people researching young people’s political engagement and literacies from different angles. I almost didn’t end up submitting a poster, but I’m very glad I did because I chatted to people throughout the poster session about my fieldwork and the methods I used, which is always good practice. I also got to talk to people about what they were doing, which is always interesting!

poster for the esrc conference

(Click through for full-size poster on my research for the ESRC Final Year Conference 2014)

I’d also like to thank everybody involved in the organising and presenting, because it was a brilliant day. I’m so glad I didn’t wimp out of the evening do out of tiredness because prosecco, a beautiful three-course dinner and a ceilidh in the National Museum of Scotland, overlooked by a T-Rex, was a complete treat.



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