I’ve just came back from the IDIMC conference held by the Centre for Information Management at Loughborough university, as mentioned in my previous post. This was the first time I was attending an academic conference where I could finally present my research in an official academic environment, as the scientific poster I had submitted to the Committee last October was peer reviewed and accepted for being part of the official programme.
The theme of the conference was ‘Exploring our digital shadow: from data to intelligence.’ The programme included several presentations and workshops from researchers, guest speakers and PhD students covering various aspects such as Information behaviour, Big data, Learning organisations, Virtual competences, or research methods to name a few. My colleagues John Mowbray and Frances Ryan respectively and brilliantly presented their papers on Social networking and employment, and on Personal online reputation.
Exposing our research
In academic conferences, poster sessions typically occur during lunch or refreshment breaks, when delegates have time to discover each one of them and discuss their content with their authors, (who usually stand nearby), which allow them to make comments or ask questions.
This time is very precious as it gave me indeed, the opportunity to explain my study to researchers, but also talk about the hesitations I still have at this stage of my PhD. There were some really interesting feedback that gave me the opportunity to point out the weaknesses, but also the strengths of my study.
5 minutes madness
Besides the traditional way to display our work, we were also given the opportunity to present our research through a presentation called ‘5 minute madness‘ during which each PhD student could present their research to the audience, with or without slides, but no longer than five minutes… This was the only chance I had to present mine to all the delegates at once, so I’ve tried to make it a bit fun and visual with the aim of attracting people to discuss my work.
Needless to say that I had a stage ‘fear’: firstly, I’m not used to talk to a public of academic researchers, and secondly, I’m not used to express myself in English in front of a public that I don’t know (I’m more at ease at teaching students). In short, I was out of my comfort zone; but this is what it takes if I want to learn how to be a researcher myself (!) Anyhow, I survived. Several delegates did come to view my poster and discuss my research, with a cup of tea or a cookie in the hands, which added to the friendliness of the meeting 🙂
I must say that I’ve really enjoyed the process of doing a poster, that I find very similar to the one of building a course, when you own a rather huge amount of knowledge that you would like to share, without much time or space at your disposal to do so. There is therefore no other choices than being extremely concise, yet clear and specific if you want to make yourself understood. It is also a creative way to share knowledge that I find very enjoyable (I’m personally very sensitive to the beauty of design). I feel therefore thankful to have had the opportunity to present my work in such way.
Over the moon
When I discovered the programme of the conference, I found out that there would be prizes for the best paper, best poster and best ‘5 minute madness‘. I knew that my poster was fairly good, but I didn’t know how good would be the others. Many were really interesting, and gave me the opportunity to find out about the research of other PhD students in the field of Information Science. Some of them looked really ‘advanced’ and complex to me, and made me feel like an ‘absolute beginner’ (to stay in touch with this week’s cultural reality) when I would compare them to the early stage of my research.
Therefore, despite the fact that I knew I had my chances like anybody else, I was still honestly surprised when I heard my name for the prize for the best poster (!) and frankly, it felt good to hear <)
This joyful moment was enhanced by the fact that my colleague Frances Ryan won the prizes for the best paper and the best ‘5 min. presentation’! Basically, we (the CSI team from Napier University) swept all the prizes! 🙂
Needless to say that our supervisor, Prof. Hazel Hall* was proud of us. A compliment that we gladly returned to her, regarding the chance we have to be supervised by her.
*[Update: you can now read her post “An award-winning trip to #IDIMC 2016” about this event.]
A glow in the shadow
The theme of this conference was about exploring our digital shadow. For me it has become symbolically a way to shyly expose myself to the limelight of the academic world. My eyes are still a bit blinded by it, but I’m confident that the more I’ll have the chance to expose myself to such challenging circumstances, the closer my time to shine will come.