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.

The Rights of Children in Education

The Rights of Children in Education

Some weeks ago, I was invited to deliver a speech at the ‘Wicked Problems in Children’s Rights in Education’ conference organised by the European Educational Research Association. Whilst preparing my talking points, I was reflecting on the fact that a ‘wicked problem’ is one that is difficult to resolve. There is no simple solution to a wicked problem and it creates tensions, depending on the lens used to analyse the issue. Within this context, I decided to throw some light on one of the more radical rights outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC): children and young people’s right to participate and its intersection with the right to education.

The UNCRC has been recognised as revolutionary because, for the first time in history, it entitled children and young people with a specific set of human rights, including the right to participate. The UNCRC’s views deem children and young people to be rights-holders and is supported by the childhood studies field that positions them as competent social actors. However, three decades after the UNCRC entered into force, participation rights continue to be challenging to implement, and the educational system is no exception. 

In order to discuss these issues, it is critical to review three key global policy instruments:

  • the UNCRC
  • the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC’s) General Comment No. 1 on the aims of education
  • the CRC’s General Comment No. 12 on the right to be listened to.

The Aims of Education

 

General Comment No.1 highlights that education is not only composed of the formal schooling system, but it should also include the development of life experiences and learning processes to strengthen children and young people’s personalities, talents, and abilities. In the same line of thought, the UNCRC’s Article 29 outlines the aims of education as the holistic development of children and young people’s full potential, including the development of respect for human rights, an enhanced sense of identity and socialisation, and interactions with others and the environment. Thus, children and young people’s right to education is not only a matter of access; it is also about content, which must be child-centred, child-friendly, and empowering.

Unfortunately, children and young people’s experiences in many educational systems around the world reveal that these aims are not always achieved. Often the focus is only on improving academic skills and sharpening intellect, ignoring other critical formative components. Here is where education systems’ aims contrapose UNCRC’s ideals, including the promotion of children and young people’s empowerment, as stated in General Comment No.1 and the UNCRC’s Article 12. 

Empowerment can be achieved by developing children and young people’s social skills, supporting learning and other capacities, valuing human dignity, and supporting self-esteem and self-confidence. This raises the question of whether this aim is attained or undermined by the systemic focus on academic success.

The Right to Participate

 

In turning the discussion to children and young people’s right to participate, defined by General Comment No. 12 as ‘the right to express their views freely in all matters affecting them’, an ‘ongoing process, which includes information-sharing and dialogue between children and adults based on mutual respect’. This definition embraces the notion of participation as a process with three pivotal components:

    • an impact on decision-making
    • mutual respect between children and young people and adults
    • a collaborative learning process.



The Disconnect between Rights and Reality

Now, where is the tension? What makes the implementation of this right to participate in education problematic? Children, as rights-holders, competent social actors, and empowered decision-makers, should be able to have opportunities to form and express their views freely, and these views should be respected and taken seriously. However, reality shows that children and young people seldomly have meaningful opportunities to participate in decision-making processes at school, and they rarely perceive positive results from their participation.

The major constraints are consistently the same across time and spaces:

      • the authority of adults, in this case, school teachers and educational staff, over children and young people that perpetuates patriarchal structures of power
      • inequalities in education which includes or excludes children and young people based on their social categories
      • tensions between children and young people being considered objects of education and subjects of mutual learning.

 Yet, this ‘wicked problem’ can be easily addressed, if all parties involved take the key principles outlined in the UNCRC, General Comment No. 1, and General Comment No. 12 seriously.

Hence, in order to discuss the future direction needed to ensure the realisation of children and young people’s rights, we must link participation rights and education aims when designing educational systems. Children and young people must be front and centre as subjects of rights, subjects of learning, and competent social actors, able to shape their educational environments. The challenge will always be to create spaces where adults listen to children and young people and take their views seriously. Thus, adults also need to build their abilities to listen to children and young people and adapt their decision-making processes to be more inclusive and equitable.

Photo Credit: World Vision/Jon Warren

Dr Patricio Cuevas-Parras

Dr Patricio Cuevas-Parras

Director for Child Participation and Rights with World Vision International

Dr Patricio Cuevas-Parra is the Director for Child Participation and Rights with World Vision International. He leads strategies and programmes to ensure that children and young people are at the centre of the advocacy and policy debate.

He holds a PhD in Social Policy from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, a Master of Advanced Studies in Children’s Rights from University of Fribourg-UIKB, Switzerland, and a Master of International Relations. Patricio has worked in more than 20 countries, including long-term roles in Ecuador, Chile, Indonesia, Lebanon, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. He has published a variety of books and reports on the topics of children’s rights, child participation, indigenous children and gender equality.

Dr Cuevas-Parra has a keen interest in looking at cutting-edge child rights advocacy tools and models to enhance children and young people’s engagement in decision-making. His research interests fall into three main categories: children’s participation in public policy, child-led research methodologies, and children’s perspectives on violence and abuse. Patricio is currently conducting research projects on children’s participation with Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Edinburgh.

4 Things I Found Useful about the Emerging Researchers’ Conference and Best Paper Award

4 Things I Found Useful about the Emerging Researchers’ Conference and Best Paper Award

Sofia Eleftheriadou received the ERG Best Paper Award 2019 for her paper titled “Conceptualisation and measurement of collaborative problem solving: a systematic review of the literature” following an extensive assessment process conducted within the Emerging Researchers’  Group. A short description of the paper can be found here.

We asked Sofia to share her experience from participating in the Emerging Researchers’ Conference and the Best Paper Award competition, reflecting on what she personally found useful as well as what she thinks other emerging researchers might want to know about the process.

Emerging Researchers’ Conference

In September 2019, I presented my paper at the Emerging Researchers’ Conference (ERC) which took place just before the European Conference for Educational Research in Hamburg. The participants and the audience in that conference were mainly early career researchers, some currently undertaking their doctorates, so I found it very encouraging to discuss preliminary findings from my research with them.

During ERC there were many workshops designed particularly for emerging researchers, such as academic writing, as well as workshops for specific fields of research, such as gender and education, offering great opportunities for professional development. Since these workshops were tailored to the needs of early career researchers, I found that they were the best place to ask questions about publishing, careers in academia, etc.

I also attended the Emerging Researchers’ Group meeting where participants were introduced to the Link Convenor and Co-Convenors. The meeting informed us about the activities offered within the group with the aim of promoting emerging researchers. One of those was the Best Paper Award competition. At the end of the meeting, there was plenty of time for discussion, where emerging researchers could offer suggestions for activities that they would like to see being developed in the future.

Best Paper Award Assessment Process

Following the Emerging Researchers’ Conference, I decided to submit my paper for consideration to the Best Paper Award competition. These are the four things that I found useful for my professional development as an emerging researcher currently undertaking doctorate research.

The timeframe

I found that the timeframe of the competition worked well in terms of giving me a structure as well as motivation to develop a full paper. Submission of the full paper was planned two months after the conference. Reviewers then provided their feedback and we were given another two months to develop the paper, addressing reviewers’ comments and re-submitting for final consideration.

Reviewers’ comments

Feedback received from reviewers was focused on three aspects: the significance of the contribution to studies in European Educational Research, the clarity of presentation, and the fulfilment of international scientific research standards. The comments I received were first, very encouraging, highlighting the positive aspects of my contribution and second, well-targeted, giving specific directions on the ways that I could work on expanding and enriching my research.

Length of submission

Manuscripts considered for the award could be up to 7,000 words in length. As an emerging researcher, only my supervisors had so far read such long pieces of writing from my research, so I considered this a great way of getting feedback in something that will eventually be included in my thesis.

Practice writing in journal article style

Finally, preparing my submission was also a good exercise in turning a thesis chapter into a journal article. To do this, I had to carefully consider what information to include for my manuscript to stand alone as a body of work. What I found helpful was having in mind the reviewer or any reader unfamiliar with my research, who should be able to read my articles and understand its contribution without requiring additional information from my thesis.  

Sofia Eleftheriadou

Sofia Eleftheriadou

Third year PhD candidate at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, UK

Sofia Eleftheriadou is a third year PhD candidate at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, UK. She holds a studentship from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In her thesis, she is examining the validity of students’ responses to a collaborative problem-solving test used in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). She has recently completed an internship at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), where she worked on assessment development. She has previously worked as a research assistant in projects related to students’ mathematics anxiety and performance, and as a teaching assistant in postgraduate taught units at the University of Manchester.

Sofia’s university researcher profile can be found here. Find her on Twitter

Contributing to the EERA Blog

Contributing to the EERA Blog

What is EERA?

EERA stands for the European Educational Research Association, which is made up of more than 35 national and regional Educational Research Associations. 

The organisation was founded in 1994 to foster the exchange of ideas between European researchers, to promote collaboration in research, improve research quality and offer independent advice on educational research to European policy-makers, administrators and practitioners.

Why does EERA need a blog?

Alongside the goal of encouraging collaboration amongst educational researchers in Europe, the strategy of EERA is to promote communication between educational researchers and international governmental organisations, such as the EU, Council of Europe, OECD, IEA and UNESCO. Further, EERA aims to disseminate the findings of educational research and highlight their contribution to policy and practice.

One excellent way to inform the research community, policymakers and other interested parties about advances in educational research is to reach out directly to them in a blog. Find out more about the reasons for starting the EERA Blog from our President, Professor Joe O’Hara.

Who is the blog for?

For anyone who is interested in education! That includes (naturally) our members, but also educators and policymakers around Europe, and of course parents. We intend the blog to be accessible to all.

Why should I contribute to the EERA blog?

Casey Fiesler wrote this excellent article on why (and how) academics should blog their papers but here is a quick summary:

  • tell your own story without the filter of a journalist
  • enable journalists to grasp the key results of your research in accessible language
  • reach interested parties who might not dive deep into  academic papers (or even have access to them)
  • summarise your work for your peers and attract their interest
  • include reflections beyond your actual research
  • the more your work is shared, the more it impacts society – and making it available in an easy-to-digest format makes it more shareable

Remember that our target audience is both academic and non-academics and adapt your writing to suit these readers.  Casey Fiedler suggests:

Think about what some of your non-academic friends would find interesting about this research. How does it relate to their lives or to society as a whole? Take the “why do we care” question that’s so important to research and extend it beyond just the narrow research community.

You can find more about our writing style in our Editorial and Style Guidelines.

 

How do I contribute to the EERA Blog?

Anyone who is a member of EERA can contribute an article. Please see our Submission Guidelines for more information on the submission process and get in touch with us. We look forward to hearing from you.