By Paulina Chavez Rodriguez and Hilma Halme
About a month ago I travelled to the wonderful city of Glasgow in Scotland to present (for the first time) a paper at the ECER’s Emerging Researchers’ Conference (ERC) 2023. Here are some things I learned which I hope are useful for others who are thinking of presenting next year.
What are ECER and ERC?
The European Conference on Education Research (ECER) and its pre-conference the Emerging Researchers’ Conference (ERC) are important conferences, not only in Europe but in our Faculty. If you attend either of them, more likely than not, you will run into someone from the faculty. The ERC lasts two days and ECER three, you can attend one or both. I have to say, I admire those who can participate the whole week. I was exhausted after only two days.
Applying and presenting at the ERC
As the name says, the Emergent Researchers’ Conference is aimed mostly at researchers in the early stages of their career, actually most of my fellow presenters were doctoral researchers. Applying for the conference is rewarding in its own way. Along with the acceptance email, I also received two very useful and well-targeted comments from reviewers which helped me improve my presentation and made me think about things I should write in my dissertation and other articles.
Presenting my paper made me very nervous as this was my first “live” conference (choosing to ignore COVID here). But as the first day went by, I realised most others were as nervous as I was, and that had made us work even harder to give a great presentation and have a good discussion. It ended up being a great experience as an attendee and as presenter.
Lesson learned: prepare to be not perfect
My biggest take away from my first international conference presentation was, prepare without trying to be perfect. Nothing will ever be perfect, laptops will fail, slides will freeze, tongues will get twisted on a long word, flaws will pop up, but that is the point of the conference. A new set of eyes on your research, article or poster will always force you to see details you have not noticed before. Moreover, presenting for your peers means not only that it will be less nerve racking than presenting for professors or experts, but also that they more easily recognize the effort you put into your presentation and will do the same when it is time to discuss. So do apply, attend, and present at this type of conference if you can. I can vouch for it, it was worth it.
EARLI conference + JURE pre-conference
“The European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) is an international scientific association for junior and senior researchers in education.” (https://www.earli.org/)
In August, I had the opportunity to attend the EARLI conference in combination with the JURE pre-conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. The JURE conference is meant for junior researchers meaning PhD students and post-doc researchers and it is a two day conference just before the EARLI conference. The EARLI conference is one of the longer conferences lasting for five days or a whole week, if you also attend the JURE conference. It is possible to attend only EARLI or JURE and not necessary to attend both. However, it is convenient to attend both as they are in the same location and you only need one set of flights. Then again, a week-long conference is also quite exhausting. Personally, I would still highly recommend it!
When I applied for the conferences, I submitted three presentations. One for JURE and two for EARLI. In hindsight I would have been happy with just having one or max two presentations. For funding purposes, it may be necessary to submit two, one for each conference. Unlike some other conferences, the submission process for these was very time-consuming work. It is not enough to write a short abstract (100-250 words), but they also require an extended summary of your research (600-1000 words including references) with a results and discussion section. So make sure that you set aside enough time for the submission process. As mentioned previously with ECER, you also receive feedback for your EARLI and JURE submissions. This in itself is already very valuable. While all my submissions were for paper (oral) presentations, I would highly recommend others to consider poster presentations as well. Poster sessions were really well organised and they were actually my favourite sessions. There is much more time to discuss than in paper presentation sessions. More time means more great feedback on your work and valuable insights.
In addition to the academic events, I really enjoyed the social programme. There was something one could do every evening, if one had the energy after the long conference days (9.00-18.00). I do recommend joining the conference dinners, not only for a great networking opportunity, but also delicious food, music, and dancing. I have to admit that my favourite thing about the whole conference was the welcoming social environment and amazing Greek food. In general the conference gave me an opportunity to spend time with colleagues from around the world, to forge new contacts, and even to put together future collaboration projects. I would call that a success!
Note. The EARLI conference is a biannual conference with the next one happening in 2025. JURE on the other hand is organised every year with next year’s conference in Sevilla, Spain 24-28th of June 2024. Submission deadline 6th November 2023. For those thinking of applying, good luck and enjoy!