How to prepare for your first ERG conference

How to prepare for your first ERG conference

The Emerging Researchers’ Group holds an annual conference, the Emerging Researchers’ Conference (ERG), preceding the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER). We asked Estella Ferraro for some tips on preparing and attending your first ERG Conference.

Going to an international conference for the first time can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. It is an excellent opportunity to meet fellow colleagues from all over the world – I have met colleagues from Europe but also from Australia, Asia, South America, and Africa.  It also gives you feedback on your research from outside the own academic framework, which can really open your eyes to entirely new perspectives.

You can’t just show up on the first day of the conference. There are a number of preparations you should undertake, and some of them start months before the conference even takes place. Especially when planning to go to ECER for the first time, it is easy to lose track of the upcoming necessary deadlines. So here are some tips on how to prepare for your first (or second or third) ERG conference.

Deadlines and preparations in advance to the conference

The Proposal

Many reasons may have led you to want to attend the ERG conference. Perhaps the topic is of great interest to you, or you have always wanted to travel to the place ECER takes place that year, or maybe your supervisor asked you to come along. The first decision is if you wish to present yourself or if you are attending to watch, learn, and network. Both have their advantages: it can be very inspiring to participate for the first time without being nervous or stressed about your own presentation, especially if your funding permits that.

On the other hand, I would suggest that if you have a chance to present you should go for it! The ERG conference is a great place to practice your presentation skills and get helpful feedback on your research in an extremely friendly atmosphere on an international scale.

Submission usually starts in December before the conference and ends in January. You can find the current deadline here. This timeline is something you should keep in mind and plan for so you can write the proposal and hand it in in time.

Funding

With that in mind, you might also consider funding opportunities. There are many opportunities for travel grants and funding you can apply for (from EERA, your home country, or home university). It is worth researching the conditions and deadlines for funding opportunities so that you don’t miss a chance! Make sure you can get all necessary documents in time, especially if you need something from others who might take some time such as a recommendation letter.

Accommodation, Visa and Flights

Obviously, this won’t apply if the conference takes place digitally. In April review results are usually announced, and this is when things get real! It can be advisable to book accommodation even before results are announced if you have an option to cancel free of charge. ECER is a huge conference and often in small cities so affordable accommodation can be booked out quickly. Don’t leave this to the last minute. Similarly, if you need to apply for a visa, check the deadlines so you don’t miss anything.

Deadlines and Preparations Closer to the Conference

Preparing your Presentation

Once time draws closer to the conference, you should start preparing your paper if you have been accepted to present one. Here it is important that you don’t overload your presentation as timing can be tricky. Participants often want to include too much information, while often it’s better to keep it simple and clear. Don’t be scared about presenting in another language.  Your English doesn’t have to be perfect and, in my experience, everyone at the ERG conference is really helpful even if you forget how to say something. If you have questions on your research or about something you’re stuck with, it’s fine to ask for that in the discussion too, so that you can really get the most from your experience and presentation at ECER.

Scheduling your conference

Look at the schedule and think about what interests you, and what you want to get out of the conference. Be prepared to pick out some sessions in advance but also accept that sometimes you might end up spontaneously changing your mind. Don’t overschedule yourself Leave some space for networking opportunities and meeting other academics as well.

Finally, all I can say is the emerging researcher conference is an amazing platform to learn, engage and network, so: Enjoy your time there!

Further Information

Find out more about the ERG Conference, including deadlines, programme, and accepted presentation formats on the EERA website.

Want to know what to expect? Have a look at the previous ECER and ERG conferences and check out our YouTube channel for videos of the ECER keynote sessions in 2020. 

Dr Estella Ferraro

Dr Estella Ferraro

Dr Estella Ferraro (née Hebert) is a Post-Doc researcher at the Goethe University in Frankfurt at the chair for theory and history of education. She is also a co-convenor for the Emerging Researchers Group and for Network 6 Open Learning: Media, Environments, and Cultures of the European Educational Research Association (EERA). Her research interests focus on questions of media education including teaching and learning with new media, datafication and big data, digital surveillance, identity in the light of personal data, and questions of digital ethics. Her PhD thesis published under the title of „Willful Blindness – on the relationship of identity, agency and personal data“ exemplifies the intersection of a bildungs-theoretical perspective with post-digital theories that characterise Dr Ferraro as a researcher.

She has over six years of experience in teaching and researching media education and has worked and studied internationally. For more information on her research and work go to: https://www.uni-frankfurt.de/55826755/Estella_Hebert

Intercultural Translation through EERA and ERG

Intercultural Translation through EERA and ERG

María Angélica Mejía Cáceres first heard of EERA and ECER via a post on the web about the summer school: Doctoral Studies in Environmental and Sustainability Education: Contextualizing the Process at the University of Cambridge. It was the first event that María Angélica attended where she needed to speak English all the time so it was a bit of a challenge. María Angélica agreed to write about her experiences, both at the summer school and her further engagement with EERA at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in 2019.

The Summer School in Cambridge

When I got to the Cambridge summer school, I was excited to meet recognized environmental education researchers from around the world, and I was glad to see other doctoral students who were interested in similar topics. As a consequence of this summer school, I did my visiting research in Canada in 2017 with one of the professors who led the summer school in Cambridge. These experiences generated my interest to participate in the European Conference on Educational Research, so I submitted to present two papers and to receive the bursary. And it happened! I was a bursary winner, and my papers were accepted.

The European Conference for Educational Research

The ERC and ECER moment was as I expected because it enabled me to have a dialogue with various researchers, acquiring knowledge, readings, experiences, and participating in debates, and activities.

In addition, participation in this conference was an opportunity for cultural exchange, and to recognize Latin representation with dignity because we want to have a voice in different spaces. 

In Latin America, we have discussions about how Europeans and North American countries made hierarchical impositions and colonization. In response, we have developed the epistemology of the south.

We have other realities, other problems, but we are generating knowledge too, from other local interests. I agree that sometimes certain communities, such as Latin people, and their research are considered inferior.

“The South is rather a metaphor for the human suffering caused by capitalism and colonialism on the global level, as well as for the resistance to overcoming or minimizing such suffering.”

– Santos Boaventura

I am glad that I was a bursary winner, alongside other people from the south. I interpreted it as a step to break discrimination and to be inclusive. And I don’t feel that this was just with the bursary.

I observed it during the whole event. I participated actively in the conference, workshops, network meeting, social events, and meeting others. I learned about education, but also about the cultures, and the similarities and differences between our realities.

I had high expectations about what I would find in the Conference, and I am glad to have found it to be a high level, in comparison with other events in which I have participated in the past. In the ERC, I listened to the interesting, critical, and constructive comments of the participants. It shows the commitment of EERA to emerging researchers.  

This congress helped me to create new connections with emerging researchers from Poland, India, Kenya, Germany, Spain (fellow bursary winners). I was also able to establish connections with professors who have distinguished trajectories.  I hope to consolidate more through collaborations in projects, writing papers, and more. That for me is awesome because as Santos Boaventura so fittingly put it:

“In order to bring together different knowledges without compromising their specificity, we need intercultural translation.”

– Santos Boaventura

The ERC and ECER permit the intercultural translation!

María Angélica Mejía-Cáceres

María Angélica Mejía-Cáceres

Doctor in Sciences and Health Education, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Maria Angélica Mejía-Cáceres is a doctor in Health and Sciences Education from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She is a member of the research group Languages and Media in Science and Health Education at the university. She is also a member of the research group Science, Education and Diversity and the research group Science, Actions, and Greeting at the Universidad del Valle in Colombia.
Currently pos-doc at NUTES Science and Health Institute, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, she is doing research about climate change education.

Supporting a European Community of Emerging Researchers

Supporting a European Community of Emerging Researchers

In her first post, Saneeya Qureshi told us a bit about the history, goals and achievements of the Emerging Researchers’ Group. We wanted to know a bit more about Saneeya’s personal experience with EERA and the ERG.

Since 2015, I have been involved with EERA in my role as Link Convenor of the Emerging Researchers’ Group (ERG). Before this, I participated annually in the ECER Conferences and EERA Summer Schools as a Masters and then a PhD student. 

When I first took on the role of ERG Convenor, I worked closely with the EERA Secretary-General to review the general regulations relating to the ERG. One of the outcomes in terms of managing the operations of the ERG has been the formative element to the manner in which ERG co-convenors are engaged.

I initiated a mentoring programme during the ERC Best Paper Award review process, so as to ensure that the new co-convenors were mentored by experienced colleagues. I combined this with an extensive stakeholder consultation of past and present ERG reviewers, to redesign a more constructive double-blind peer review process for the ERC Best Paper Award. Colleagues from EERA Council are also involved in both the ERC Best Paper Award Competition and EERA Bursary Review process.

In terms of further supporting the development of emerging researchers who are not co-convenors, the ERC proposal review mentorship process via meta-reviews on Conftool was introduced in 2016. An increasing number of emerging researchers are mentored via this process each year, and to date 40 emerging researchers have been mentored in this regard. Since 2018, I have chaired a new system for the EERA Conference Bursary Review process, including clearer and more transparent application and review guidelines.

I am particularly proud of the developmental and formative nature of the ERG’s activities that I lead, and the collaborative approach that I have introduced in relation to managing the ERG. I work with the ERG co-conveners actively and encourage them to take on roles of responsibility whilst providing support.

I have also worked closely with the Senior Mentor, EERA Office and EERA Council across various ERG activities, including many new ones that I have introduced, such as an extended, specialised formative feedback process led by the network convenors on papers that are not shortlisted for the Best Paper Award.

 These collaborations underpin and augment numerous successful initiatives associated with the ERG that means we have an exponential increase year on year of emerging researchers’ enriched participation across the various activities.

However, I recognise that whilst these successful activities currently form a diverse and exciting offering for emerging researchers, there is still work to be done. Therefore, the ERG continues to work with researchers, supervisors and local institutions to ensure that collectively we provide the very best environment we can for our current and future researchers.

Indeed, an increasing focus in this endeavour has been garnering participants’ feedback and evaluation of ERG activities, so that the future of the Group’s initiatives can appropriately cater to their evolving needs.

Since 2018, for instance, on the basis of this feedback and evaluation, the ERC offers two informal lunchtime sessions: ‘Lunch with Local Academics’ and ‘Making the most of the Emerging Researchers’ Conference and ECER’. As Link Convenor, my intention is to continue to mirror this pattern of evaluation to evidence the value for money that EERA invests into the emerging researchers’ activities.

It is also a privilege for the ERG to contribute towards EERA’s objectives to encourage collaboration, communication and the dissemination of findings as contributions to policy and practice amongst educational researchers, international governmental organisations, research associations and institutes within Europe. Indeed, the ERG was an integral part of the EERA Strategy writing committee and ensured the inclusion of activities and interests of emerging researchers at all levels were represented in the Strategic Plan. As ERG Convenor, I also operate as a liaison between the World Educational Research Association (WERA) and EERA and furthering the ERG’s Links with the Doctoral and Early Career Network.

The excitement, dynamism and rewards of engaging with the EERA Emerging Researcher community drive my passion for leading an ever-growing offering of activities and collaborations through which colleagues can share and discuss their research findings via truly global forums.

I believe that belonging to a professional body like EERA, and contributing to the global academic debate is an important responsibility for any educational researcher and, that in order to do this, communication and sharing of research practice, through a range of mediums, is needed to ensure effective dissemination and, ultimately, impact.

Saneeya Qureshi

Saneeya Qureshi

Head of Researcher Development and Culture at the University of Liverpool, UK

Dr Saneeya Qureshi is the Link Convenor of the Emerging Researchers Group for the European Educational Research Association (EERA). She is also the Head of Researcher Development and Culture at the University of Liverpool, UK. She is responsible for the University’s provision for researchers at all stages of their careers. She manages activities related to the University's European Commission's HR Excellence in Research Award, liaising with stakeholders regarding Liverpool's commitment to the development of its Early Career Researchers.

She holds a PhD in Inclusive Education, and has over 15 years of experience in teaching and educational management in the UK and internationally.

Since 2015, Dr Qureshi has been a co-opted member of the EERA Council where she represents emerging researchers' interests. She leads an annual programme of EERA's developmental and capacity building activities for emerging researchers, including the annual Emerging Researchers Conference. She is also an Editorial Board member and a reviewer for several international educational journals. She can be found on Twitter 

5 More Tips for Completing your PhD during COVID 19

5 More Tips for Completing your PhD during COVID 19

Following the positive response we received after publishing Emily’s Top 5 Tips on coping with the COVID 19 pandemic while writing your PhD, we asked if she had any more advice to share. She dug deep and came up with five more ideas for you to keep your head while the world spins around you!

Break down your thesis into smaller, more manageable chunks

Break down your thesis into smaller, more manageable chunks that you can test out through conference, seminars, and blog posts. Engaging with others will help re-connect you with your community and will support the development of your ideas through feedback and conversation.

Your thesis is an opportunity to build your own community and collaborate with other students, early career researchers as well as your supervisors.

Ale Okada, an educational researcher at the Open University, suggests attending and participating in a variety of events.

If conferences and IRL talks are suspended, then look out for webinars and online conferences. As an example, the Johns Hopkins SNF Agora Institute has offered weekly webcasts on a wide variety of timely topics.

And of course, EERA offers a range of opportunities to gather feedback on your work, such as the Emerging Researchers’ Group and their LinkedIn community. The pandemic may have forced the cancellation of the European Conference for Educational Research in 2020, but the Reconnecting EERA online conference was a resounding success.

Be Patient with Yourself

Remind yourself learning is not linear and that all your emotions are expressions of your investment in your thesis.

“Set daily goals that are reasonable and keep you moving forward,” recommends Nadine Janes, Director of Undergraduate Nursing and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, “and find someone to hold you accountable to those goals”.

Shuxuan Zheng similarly underlines that “little things are what make big things happen, and keeping this in mind is necessary to collectively overcome the viral pandemic”.

Look After Your Body and Mind

Eat something healthy before midday every day. Drink water. And take yourself for a walk in the evening. The extensive social distancing adaptations mean fewer opportunities to be physically active. Studying from home can entrench the sedentary lifestyle fostered by long hours of writing, reading or editing.

This article from researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh, Sydney and Western Australia details some ways you can stay fit and active.

Developing an achievable routine that you can feel good about for your wellbeing is vital. Find out if there is a walking group at your university. Exchange healthy recipes with your peers.  

If you aren’t managing your goal, then aim smaller. Being good to yourself includes setting yourself up to win.

 

Things Will go Wrong Again and Again

But the sun, too, will rise again, and that disaster might be the making of your PhD, or you, or a total disaster with no redeeming features and that’s ok too.

Reflecting on her experience, final year student Carolyn Cooke explains:

“The second year was the year where things changed the most – change of literature base, change of methodology too. These changes meant I had written much which I then felt wasn’t useful anymore but rather surprisingly (to me!) I have come back to a huge amount of it in the last couple of months when writing up as there were things I could develop. So, nothing (no writing, no exploring, no “tangents”) is wasted effort – it’s all part of the process!”.

For a wide range of ideas for how to adapt your project during the pandemic, this crowdsourced document initiated by Deborah Lupton is a great place to brainstorm.

Practice Identifying Yourself in Different Ways

Deborah Lupton recommends taking the time to listen to good quality radio programmes and podcasts, to read the newspaper and engage with others socially.

Finding your academic identity is part of the research journey so read broadly when you can and cultivate connections to your interests including those that cross your departmental or disciplinary boundaries.

“I recommend thinking ahead to say 5 to 10 years down the road and answering the following questions: what do I want my ‘academic identity’ to be? Which academic community do I belong to long term and what do I want to be known for within that community?”, shares Jaideep Prabhu, Jawaharlal Nehru professor of business and enterprise at the Judge Business School, Cambridge, “Once you have some clarity about that, then work backwards and ask yourself: what do I need to do now to get there?”. 

Emily Dowdeswell

Emily Dowdeswell

2nd Year PhD Student

Emily Dowdeswell is approaching the end of her first year of doctoral research at the Open University’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS).

Her area of study includes the intersections between anthropology, the arts, creativity and education.

You can find out more about Emily’s research at http://wels.open.ac.uk/rumpus or on Twitter https://twitter.com/intracommons 

What is the Emerging Researchers’ Group?

What is the Emerging Researchers’ Group?

You may have read about the Emerging Researchers’ Group (ERG) on our blog or website and want to know more. What is the Emerging Researchers’ Group, why was it set up and what are it’s aims and achievements. We asked Convenor Saneeya Qureshi to tell us more.

A Brief History

The Emerging Researchers Group (ERG) began life as the Postgraduate Network (PGN) in 2002. The remit of the PGN was to support postgraduate students; this support focussed mainly during the ECER pre-conference. With time, the remit, identity and scale of activities of the PGN have evolved as it has grown and diversified.

In 2009, the then pre-conference hosted almost 200 participants from over 15 countries, many of whom were engaged in doctoral studies. Today, a significant number of ERG members are emerging and early career researchers, and the PGN name was changed to the ERG to reflect this fact. The annual Emerging Researchers’ Conference (ERC) now hosts almost 400 participants from over 40 countries, in addition to almost 100 participants during the annual EERA Summer School.  

Aims of the ERG

The Emerging Researchers’ Group aims to:

  • provide a European research community for Emerging Researchers (including those undertaking a Doctorate)
  • provide a forum for the dissemination of Early Career Research at the Emerging Researchers´ Conference   
  • offer support and guidance for article production via the ‘Best Paper Award’
  • offer support for researchers from low GDP countries to engage with ECER

The main strength of the ERG lies in the support it offers to ‘new’ researchers in providing a space for discussion and collaboration with peers across Europe. In addition, it creates a new space in EERA, which allows emerging researchers to be supported to create a strong, independent ‘Emerging Researchers’ forum, which improves EERA’s internal democratic accountability.

Definition of an Emerging Researcher

An Emerging Researcher in EERA is someone who, within 5 years of completing a PhD, or during doctoral or master studies or research career, is interested in:

  • the broadening of research training and professional development experiences internationally
  • exchange of experiences and ideas about research and research training
  • development of research projects in collaboration with researchers of different countries
  • active participation in a European research community for Emerging Researchers

Members of the ERG are those whose membership details are held within the EERA database, as a result of their participation in ERG activities, including the Conference and Summer School. The annual meeting is held during ECER each year. Year-round contact is maintained between members through email and via the Emerging Researchers’ Group website.

Key Achievements of the ERG

Year on year, various ERG activities challenge participants to reflect on and debate the role of educational research whilst appreciating diversity. The activities are particularly referenced in evaluations for their high-quality discussion, research and collaborative opportunities that they provide to those that attend. The Annual reports can be read here.

ERG activities recognise that emerging researchers are uniquely supported to discuss and debate topical and thought-provoking research projects in relation to the ECER themes, trends and current practices in educational research year after year. The high-quality academic presentations during the ERC are evidence of the significant participation and contributions of emerging researchers to the European educational research community.

By participating in ERG activities, emerging researchers engage with world-class educational research and learn the priorities and developments from notable regional and international researchers and academics. The annual programme of activities is purposefully organised to include special activities and workshops that provide emerging researchers varied opportunities for networking, creating global connections and knowledge exchange, sharing the latest ground-breaking insights on topics of their interest.

Voices of Emerging Researchers

We asked some of the ERG members past and present to tell us about the impact of their engagement with the activities of our group. 

“I found it very useful to talk with other researchers and learn about how higher education works in their home countries. It helped me to see a lot of the positives about the education system in my country as well as areas that may need improvement. Although I was sometimes out of my comfort zone in terms of the methodological approach researchers are using, I felt their talks helped to make abstract ideas more concrete. It was also interesting to see that other students are looking at similar topics to my thesis, yet approaching things from a different perspective.”

“[The Emerging Researchers Conference has enabled me] to meet other PhD students from all over Europe and the world and to exchange experiences related to research projects. Learning about differences related to ethics in a European and global context was very interesting. Presenting a poster in a small group was an educative experience, and I received some useful questions and reflections to my project. It was my first time presenting a poster, and I felt it was a really nice atmosphere surrounding the forms of presentations.”

“Being part of ERC and ECER felt so eye-opening, I have learned so much from the sessions and the people I`ve met, I have had access to knowledge & perspectives that it would have taken me much more time to find on my own. The communication, the agenda, the selection of workshops, some of the papers showed that you & your team put a lot of thought into this. Also, even though I am discovering that the research field is imbued with competitiveness, I could see that people were doing their best to support each other in looking for answers to each others’ questions. I liked that! It is encouraging. Now it is up to me to grow from these seeds, and I will do my best. We have a long way to develop good research departments in my country, but with more access, we get better, and I know enough people who are eager to do the work. So thank you, thank you for your part, sustaining ERC. I have been a program coordinator, maybe it is not similar, maybe it is, but I think I know what it takes, from the logistic effort to securing resources, so good job and thank you! If ever gets hard, remember that you are planting seeds in places that you may not even think of.”   

Colleagues engaging with ERG activities should prepare themselves to be challenged, excited and inspired.

Saneeya Qureshi

Saneeya Qureshi

Head of Researcher Development and Culture at the University of Liverpool, UK

Dr Saneeya Qureshi is the Link Convenor of the Emerging Researchers Group for the European Educational Research Association (EERA). She is also the Head of Researcher Development and Culture at the University of Liverpool, UK. She is responsible for the University’s provision for researchers at all stages of their careers. She manages activities related to the University's European Commission's HR Excellence in Research Award, liaising with stakeholders regarding Liverpool's commitment to the development of its Early Career Researchers.

She holds a PhD in Inclusive Education, and has over 15 years of experience in teaching and educational management in the UK and internationally.

Since 2015, Dr Qureshi has been a co-opted member of the EERA Council where she represents emerging researchers' interests. She leads an annual programme of EERA's developmental and capacity building activities for emerging researchers, including the annual Emerging Researchers Conference. She is also an Editorial Board member and a reviewer for several international educational journals. She can be found on Twitter