Introduction to the symposium as a postgraduate researcher
For the fifth year in a row, the Qualitative Research Symposium brought together researchers to share their challenges of qualitative enquiry. Over 200 delegates came together to discuss their past, present and future analytical practices, touching on the orientations of analysis that inform their thinking, approaches and processes to qualitative research. The symposium provided an opportunity to challenge the simplistic understandings of qualitative enquiry and delve deeper into the messiness of data analysis to ultimately inform the quality, rigour and trustworthiness of qualitative research. The symposium provided a fantastic opportunity for postgraduates from Bath and further afield to gain a deeper understanding of qualitative research across a broad range of academic disciplines.
The postgraduate researcher organising committee
Each year sees a group of postgraduate researchers from different Departments within the University of Bath get involved in the organising and running of the Qualitative Research Symposium. This year was no different. Months before the symposium, the organising committee and the postgraduate team started initial planning and assignment of on-the-day duties. As a postgraduate researcher, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the processes and detail involved in organising and running a symposium of this scale. Secondly, it’s a great way to meet colleagues across departments and various schools. As the symposium came to fruition, postgraduate researchers got to witness first-hand how the months of hard work and planning culminated in a successful and inspiring symposium.
Lessons learned as a postgraduate researcher
As a postgraduate researcher, your main task is to produce new research. Academic conferences and symposiums are important arenas for new research to be communicated and discussed. It is, therefore, no surprise that the two overlap. Moreover, they are an important tool for postgraduate researchers to develop their own critical perspectives and innovative research ideas. The symposium offers postgraduate researchers an excellent opportunity to network with people who pursue similar research interests as well as make important connections beyond one’s own university. As part of the organising committee, the postgraduate researchers had the opportunity to get an inside look into the academic world, the various norms, conventions and social dimensions. These systems all become an important aspect which we as postgraduate researchers must engage with in order to advance our academic career goals.
Benefits for postgraduate researchers looking to take part next year
As a postgraduate student, you are required to attend and document a range of Postgraduate Skills training that will go towards your early career development- a prerequisite to passing confirmation. As part of the organising committee, you can attend the symposiums which can count towards your Postgraduate Skills. Whether the symposium is within your area of research or not, it still counts!
A huge benefit to being part of the organising committee is the opportunity to gain excellent experience in planning, organising and negotiating duties and responsibilities. Event-management skills are highly transferable and will serve postgraduate researchers well, whether in academia or further afield. Being part of the organising committee offers the opportunity to learn new skills and enhance your CV.
Feel good factor
One of the most underrated aspects of being involved in extra-curricular projects like these is the ‘feel good factor’ you get. As a postgraduate researcher, you are likely to work independently throughout the course of your study with very few opportunities to be part of wider group work. The comradery experienced as a result of being part of a team provides a precious opportunity to discover how others work and gain a sense of achievement – something underrated in academia. Lastly, as the symposium closes for another year, it ended on a high with a drink’s reception offering the chance to reflect on the success of 2019.
We very much look forward to welcoming others to get involved next year as the postgraduate researchers take on more responsibility in running and organising the symposium.
On behalf of the Postgraduate Researchers Committee
Carl Bescoby, Kathrin Lauber, Tess Legg, Allen Gallagher, Emrah Yildirim, Sally Hewlett, Sarra Boukhari