Finding an intellectual home at ECER 2017

How do you build a global academic profile? This was the question posed to a panel of senior academics at our first U21 FINE networking event at the European Conference for Educational Research (ECER) on Tuesday 22 August 2017. With guest presentations from Professor Rowena Arshad, Head of Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh, Associate Professor Wee Tiong Seah of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, Professor Howard Stevenson, Director of Research at the School of Education at the University of Nottingham, and Kim Chadwick, Commissioning Editor for Emerald Publishing, the answers were understandably diverse.

Providing a recruiter’s perspective, Professor Rowena Arshad spoke of the importance of establishing a career narrative before building a global academic profile because the latter may emerge naturally from the former. In terms of employability, she noted that candidates would ideally have evidence of a publication profile (though not necessarily in high impact journals), experience of writing research grant applications (even if unsuccessful), and some level of teaching experience. And although different interview panelists are looking for different features in a future colleague, she stated that all wish to recruit someone who will fit well in their academic community.

Our second speaker, Associate Professor Wee Tiong Seah, encouraged us to look to the future and go beyond our traditional research boundaries. Firstly, having reflected that most research is conducted in the developed world, he argued that we should attempt to connect with ‘the other 85%’ of the global community. Secondly, he advocated for increased researcher mobility both between institutions and between countries. Finally, since it can be difficult to establish good research teams, he suggested that we ‘try people out’ to see whether our collaborations work well together. Ultimately, networking with our peers, whether face-to-face or online, could be a fruitful way to start this process.

Drawing on his own experience as an early career academic, Professor Howard Stevenson reminded us that we should think about the significance of our contribution to the wider research community. In order to do this, it was important to find our intellectual home, so we can carve out that contribution over time and come to be identified with particular educational issues. He asked us to think about ‘having something to say’ and argued that nothing networks you better a good academic publication. Consequently, he maintained that we should regard the peer review process as an opportunity to learn and develop our academic writing.

Our final speaker was Kim Chadwick of Emerald Publishing who stressed that impact is not only achieved through publication in top tier journals. Whilst this is undoubtedly important in the scholarly community, she asserted that articles in practitioner journals and book chapters should not be underrated in terms of their potential impact on policy and practice.

Following their individual presentations, the speakers fielded many questions from the audience, which was composed largely of postgraduate and early career researchers from a number of U21 institutions. Kindly sponsored by Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh, this networking breakfast was held at the Scandic Copenhagen prior to start of the main ECER conference. Given its success, we now aim to repeat and extend the event next year.

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