5 Tips for Emerging Researchers to get more involved with EERA and its Networks

5 Tips for Emerging Researchers to get more involved with EERA and its Networks

In this blog post, ERG Group Convenor, Dr Saneeya Qureshi addresses some of the frequently asked questions that she has received from EERA’s emerging researchers. A number of these have arisen from responses to the following question in the annual survey ‘What question(s) about the Emerging Researchers Group (ERG) or EERA still remain uppermost in your mind?’

Before we get to the responses, it is worth flagging the Emerging Researchers Group page, which links to various activities that are offered throughout the year.

“The early researchers are eager to learn beyond their field of research. For example, we would appreciate workshops or blog posts that would introduce us to research methods (so we can better understand, appreciate and link to the work others are doing). In addition, we are aware that we lack skills in presenting our work in a way that would be the most beneficial for our career progress. Where can we find information or resources for this?”

 

Answer: We know that early researchers are eager to learn beyond their field of research, to be introduced to research methods that would help them better appreciate and link their knowledge to the work others are doing. To address this need, we regularly share via the ERG mailing list information about workshops, seminars, summer schools, call for papers, and various other research-related opportunities are shared via the ERG mailing list. Join the mailing list by sending a blank message to erg-subscribe(at)lists.eera-ecer.de).

During the annual Emerging Researchers’ Conference (ERC), multiple capacity-building workshops and network workshops are also offered across the programme, in addition to the Annual EERA Summer Schools on Methodology.

Concurrently, the EERA Blog (to which anyone is welcome to subscribe at no cost) publishes regular posts on a diverse array of topics, ranging from research methods to educational engagement activities. The EERA Blog also provides tips on academic publication and conference attendance for emerging researchers. Further local opportunities for emerging researchers are available via the activities of their respective country’s National Associations.

Answer: There are a multitude of ways to get involved with EERA. You can do this via engagement with the ERG activities – including those highlighted above, the Best Poster Award, Best Paper Award, the ERG Mentorshipopportunities (access for which individuals must attend the ERG annual meeting at the ERC each year), or the respective EERA Network activities.

My advice would be to go through the EERA Networks, see which one(s) are most relevant to your research interests, and then join their mailing list. During the EERA Conference, attend their Network meetings to learn more about the senior academics who lead and engage with these networks and small communities, and build your own connections with them.  

It is worth noting here that Emerging Researchers and those who participate in the activities of the Emerging Researchers’ Group need to be members of their respective National Associations to qualify as members of EERA. Members of a national association that is a part of EERA can claim the lower fee for the annual conference, the ECER (European Conference on Educational Research). In addition, their associations can grant them free access to EERA’s scientific journal, the European Educational Research Journal (EERJ).

More information about being a member of EERA via one of its National Association members is available here.

Answer: Being involved with an EERA network does not require you to have any prior engagement with a specific network or Special Interest Group (SIG) that may or may not exist within your relevant national association. Your engagement with an EERA Network happens directly (see my tips in the answer above), without the need for pre-existing membership of a group, other than that of the main national association itself.

Answer: The answer to the first question in this blog covers information about networking opportunities between researchers at all career levels that are disseminated throughout the year via the ERG mailing list. The design of the wider ERG activities, and the ERC itself is purposefully done in a manner to afford emerging researchers the opportunities to meet and connect with researchers at all career levels, for instance, the exponentially successfully mentoring opportunities, as outlined above.

However, in a more focused approach to the issue raised in this question, the Annual ERC, when in-person, offers two lunchtime sessions dedicated entirely to a protected time and space for emerging researchers to engage and network with more experienced, senior academics, and EERA representatives. Since the onset of Covid and online events, the Annual ERG meeting has been combined with what would otherwise have been the first ERC lunchtime session on ‘Making the most of the ERC and Getting to know EERA’ session. It provides an opportunity for EERA’s emerging researchers, their supervisors, and research leaders to engage in interactive discussions which support:

    • broadening professional development opportunities and research dissemination experiences internationally;
    • exchanging experiences and ideas about research and researcher development;
    • actively participating in a European research community for Emerging Researchers.

All ERC participants are invited to this informal session which is jointly facilitated by experienced academics and the ERG co-conveners to enable those attending the ERC to understand the EERA structure and chart their way through the ECER conference program.

 

The following themes are covered during the session in the breakout groups, for informal discussions pertaining with the experienced academics and the ERG co-convenor teams:

Doing Educational Research:
The session included representation from the Editors of ‘Doing Educational Research: Overcoming Challenges in Practice’. This SAGE/EERA book was developed as a result of feedback from PhD students and addresses challenges researchers have encountered in their projects. In this session, we heard accounts of how experienced researchers handled entry into the research field, how they discussed and managed research results that posed problems when accounted back to the field, and how doing research in a second language, i.e., English, creates a complex set of challenges from interpretation to the communication of your research.

Networks, Networking, and Development Opportunities:
Discussions around how emerging researchers could connect with experts in their field by identifying their network and attending their programs. Also discussed were opportunities and strategies for building professional networks during ECER and beyond.

Converting a conference paper into a publication:
Participants were given insights into the unique opportunities available to them after the Emerging Researchers’ Conference, to maximise their publication success. Also discussed were the multitude of possibilities that the ERC offers for emerging researchers to receive feedback on their work, for example, during and after their conference presentations.

ERG co-convenors:
Meet the Emerging Researchers’ Group co-convenors who shared their recent experiences as Early Career Researchers and provided helpful tips for making the most of the conference experience.

 

Moving forward, we hope to return to face-to-face ERCs, in which case we will offer the following dedicated opportunities for emerging researchers to network with those at all career levels, backgrounds, disciplines, and experiences:

    • First day of the ERC lunchtime session: ‘Making the most of the ERC and Getting to know EERA’
    • First afternoon of the ERC: ERG meeting, which is attended by numerous PhD supervisors
    • First evening of the ERC: Dedicated social activity for key ERC stakeholders at all career levels
    • Second day of the ERC lunchtime session: ‘Lunchbreak with Local Academics’

As such, colleagues are advised to engage with upcoming ERCs to avail the opportunities of these dedicated networking events.

I would like more information about research design issues and the European perspective – it is obviously an important agenda to seek transnational European mutual understanding and try to team up on important educational issues. However, we also need to talk about differences. Schools are not alike all over Europe. So many little things such as teacher-pupil-relations etc. need to be explored. How to balance quality standards and innovations, which go beyond standards? How to maintain, cultivate and acknowledge cultural and linguistic diversity beyond the Anglo-Saxon mainstream and the one-dimensional notion of the ‘international’? How can I find the space and time for a relaxing and inspiring intellectual experience?

 

Answer: At EERA, we couldn’t agree more about the need for time and space to further educational research, debate, and discussion for the benefit of society! This is at the heart of who we are and what we do, and is why we provide the various opportunities as outlined in answer to the first question in this blog.

The flagship world-renowned Annual European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) attracts about 3000 participants from more than 70 countries. It is the primary forum to meet and engage with researchers from a broad field of academic traditions, themes, and cultural backgrounds – 1000+ sessions across EERA’s 33 Networks are facilitated over the course of one week, and include a mixture of oral, video, paper, and poster presentations, Ignite Talks, panel discussions, symposia, research workshops, network meetings, social events and more – all designed to facilitate and share cutting edge research designs, projects, effective practices, information, debate, and discussions on the whole spectrum of educational topics.

To learn more about the ERG, ERC, and ECER, visit the EERA website, which is updated regularly with information, news, guidance, and job opportunities related to educational research: https://eera-ecer.de/  

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 

Organising Global Conferences for Early Career Researchers

Organising Global Conferences for Early Career Researchers

Organising a global conference for Early Career Researchers isn’t a simple task. So we asked ERG  convenor Saneeya Qureshi to share her experiences in leading teams of ECRs on the design, organisation, and execution of two major conferences – the global EERA Emerging Researchers Conference (ERC 2021) and the UK National Postdoc Conference (NPDC21).

These conferences followed on the heels of the fourth year of the thriving Making an Impact Series, which she led for the University of Liverpool since 2018, and which has recently received the recognition of being shortlisted for the ‘Academic Engagement of the Year’ category in the prestigious UK PraxisAuril Knowledge Exchange Awards.

For each event, the ECR teams engaged 2000+ individuals across various associated activities and sessions. Each flagship activity is co-created and co-designed with a community of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and internationally recognised thought leaders.

So, what’s the secret of organising successful global conferences for Early Career Researchers? For Saneeya, the skills learned during her PhD were critical.

 

Working to such a scale, on time and on budget, juggling coordination with multiple individuals who are sometimes spread across continents, demands an entirely unique set of academic competencies for which my PhD had nominally prepared me. However, having now been the lead organiser for these exponentially growing events since 2015, it’s fair to say that I am now an old hand at the helm. In this post, I share my top tips for designing, planning, and executing conferences for ECRs, which I think are worth particular consideration by any conference lead – however small or large-scale an event may be.

Reflect on your Intended Return on Investment

Using the base of genuine co-creation and co-design of activities with those from whom they are intended, i.e. ECRs, it is advisable to ensure that all aspects of planning and organisation from the outset take into account the post-event benefits to participants and to their organisations/ research associations. Focus on the short-term and long-term outputs, outcomes and impact upon ECRs’ practice, knowledge, skills, and attributes. Allow time during a programme (and encourage post-event protected time) for participants to have dedicated time and space for reflections during and after an event – you could even provide your own self-reflection logs. These are examples of how to ensure that you plan for the best possible return on investment (Bromley & Warnock, 2021).

Consider Value for Money (but don’t compromise on quality!)

This is especially important in the post-Covid context of reduced financial capacities for institutions and educational associations. I am very aware of the expected versus final development cost per participant for all the events I lead. This usually involves discussions with session speakers and facilitators about pre-and post-session open access resources, along with a fair bit of pre-event negotiation about sessions with number caps, to account for high no-show rates.

With the advent of the online-pivot arising from the pandemic, and future hybrid and hyflex working approaches (Gaebel et al., 2021), it is worth being even more mindful of the pressures on ECRs’ time and the resultant impact on their abilities and best-laid intentions to engage with planned activities. This means ensuring that the programme design respects participants’ time and meets their needs simultaneously.

Shine a Spotlight on Accessibility and Inclusion across Every Aspect of the Event

The NPDC21 has been hailed as a sector-leading example of how accessibility, inclusivity and equity of access and engagement were at the forefront of every single aspect of the participant experience. This accessibility ranges from pre-event communications and networking activities to the manner in which speakers introduced themselves during sessions, and the use of sign language interpreters and professional transcription as the norm, to the post-event resources and sharing of best practices.

It is worth noting the difference between equity and equality (Hardie, Fernando and Turbill, 2021) – and that inclusivity considerations must also be reflected in the profile of the speakers and facilitators who lead sessions, and in the pre-and post-event resources that participants can access freely at any time, for instance, the NPDC21 Virtual Delegate Pack.

Don’t Lose Sight of Networking and Engagement Opportunities

Related to the above point about how time-poor we increasingly find ourselves, it is important to consider the immeasurable hidden benefits of conferences that result from ECRs’ networking and engagement activities (Merga and Mason, 2020). This includes not just the provision of opportunities for ECRs to network with each other and senior academics (such as this ERC 2021 session), but also incentivised activities that happen during and post-events, such as the EERA Best Poster Award and the Best Paper Competition.

Prioritise the Human Welfare Aspect

Mental health and wellbeing should be a cornerstone of any ECR event.
Johnson and Weivoda (2021) affirm that the “need to elevate and support ECRs at all stages to ensure they have access to peer networks, supportive mentors, mental health resources, information about alternative career options, and appropriate career-stage opportunities.”
Building on the excellent tips offered by Byrom et al. (2020), for the NPDC21, we created a Wellbeing Oasis that was signposted before, during, and after the event. These self-led resources include guided meditations, yoga sessions, relaxing music, nature observation, and more, coupled with active wellbeing sessions that were specifically facilitated during the event, showing participants how we prioritised their overall sense of wellbeing. We even included aspects of wellbeing in the Conference Bingo activity to ensure this priority message was communicated in different ways.   

Listen to the Voices of the Community

It goes without saying for any activity, organisers must put the individuals for whom the event is meant at the heart of all the planning, design, and execution. As one example that informs this aspect, the UK has recently witnessed a burgeoning focus on nurturing positive and inclusive research cultures and research environments. Indeed, the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers provides a framework around aspects of employment, culture, and environment, professional and career development for researchers.

To further bolster community voices, each event was led by a steering group consisting of a cross-section of diverse disciplinary, career-level, and geographically spread representatives who meet regularly to feed into and support every stage of the event from conception to post-event reflections.

Expect the Unexpected

It goes without saying that for flagship events, as lead organiser, you should have a backup plan for your backup plan! For me, part of the preparations involved:

Comprehensive pre-event briefing sessions with key stakeholders, speakers, and the wider team behind-the-scenes, supplemented with notes and useful resources that would help them add value to the overall event.

A regularly updated FAQ section to empower participants to troubleshoot any issues themselves first. We signposted the NPDC21 FAQs in every single communication that went out before and during the event, whether via email, social media or in-person meetings and sessions. We did the same for EERA’s use of the OnAir Platform via an eminently visible and accessible ‘Help’ Button, through which participants could video call a support colleague, or simply type in their queries for an interactive chat.

For wholly online events, plan for backup platforms, in case the main platform goes down.

A constantly-manned helpdesk and email address, which has a pre-scheduled auto-response message answering commonly-asked questions, and flagging the FAQ page.

And Finally, Enjoy the Event! 

A well-designed and well-prepared event means less stress for you on the day, and more opportunities for you to engage with participants, whether in person (via Zoom or face to face), or via social media. By having the time to dip in and out of all the 100+ Zoom-based parallel sessions during the ERC 2021, and the 30+ sessions of the NPDC21, I was absolutely delighted to meet participants, chat with them and understand even more about what the event meant to them.

It was, for instance, through conversations such as these that I talked with 3 ECRs who were between 7-9 (yes 9!) months pregnant, and who were so happy that the online programmes meant they could participate. Some sessions were also chaired by ECRs who themselves has small babies in their laps – upon whom I was able to bestow the titles of ‘Cutest’ or ‘Most Adorable’ or ‘Most Endearing’ ‘Baby EERA Emerging Researcher Award’!  

The impact of a well-organised and well-designed event is inestimable – not only on the participants and key individual stakeholders – but on the overall national and international reputational gain for an institution or national association. Having an engaged and committed steering group that makes teamwork and organisation easy is half the battle won, and I am constantly reminded of this quote,

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

As with a PhD, the most challenging parts of making any activity or initiative go smoothly are always the ones that are most satisfying at the end. Or in the words of the renowned  American opera singer: 

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

 

On a closing note, there is no better last word to be had than by the participants themselves across these events. The participant feedback for the NPDC21 can be found in this MURAL Board.

For the ERC 2021, feedback could be summarised in this testimonial,

 

“The Emerging Researchers’ Conference was useful in creating bridges and connections between students, researchers, and teachers, promoting open and critical reflections, discussions, and dialogues about educational research. I think that the experience of participating in ERC was very rewarding, since I was able to share my Ph.D. research work in a free and plural environment of critical reflection and collective debate.”

References and Further Reading

Bromley, T., & Warnock, L. (2021). The practice of the development of researchers: the “state-of-the-art”. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Educationavailable at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/SGPE-12-2019-0084/full/html

(accessed 26th October 2021).

 

Byrom, N., Jackman, P., Zile, A., James, E., Tyrrell, K., Williams, C. J., Haughey, T., Sanderson, R., Priestley, M. and & Cogan, N. (2020). Call to Action: How can universities support doctoral and early career researchers during COVID-19 (and beyond!), available at: https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/ws/files/91095601/Article_Suggestions_for_Institutions_and_Supervisors_FINAL.pdf(accessed 26th October 2021).

 

Gaebel, M., Zhang, T., Stoeber, H., & Morrisroe, A. (2021). Digitally enhanced learning and teaching in European higher education institutions. Survey Reportavailable at: https://eua.eu/downloads/publications/digi-he survey report.pdf (accessed 26th October 2021).

 

Hardie, G., Fernando, M., & Turbill, J. (2021). Equity, Equality and Digital Inclusion: Evidence of practice from an Australian University. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2021, No. 1, p. 12677). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management, available at: https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/AMBPP.2021.12677abstract(accessed 26th October 2021).

 

Johnson, R. W., & Weivoda, M. M. (2021). Current Challenges for Early Career Researchers in Academic Research Careers: COVID‐19 and Beyond, available at: https://asbmr.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jbm4.10540 (accessed 26th October 2021).

 

Merga, M., & Mason, S. (2020). Early career researchers’ perceptions of the benefits and challenges of sharing research with academic and non-academic end-users. Higher Education Research & Development, 1-15, available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07294360.2020.1815662 (accessed 26th October 2021).

 

Vitae Concordat (2019), “Concordat to support the career development of researchers”, available at: https://www.vitae.ac.uk/policy/concordat  (accessed 26th October 2021).

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 

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 

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 

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