Yesterday, on 15th January 2020, the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University held its annual New Year research conference. The format of the event included sessions on REF2021 led by Professor Ben Paechter and Professor Emma Hart, good practice in PhD supervision led by Professor Ahmed Al-Dubai, data management plans led by Dr Lindsay Ramage, research culture led by Dr Frances Ryan, and a series of short presentations on on-going research projects within the School. There were also good opportunities for networking in the breaks.
The Social Informatics group members had a good presence at this event: Dr Gemma Webster gave a research talk on her Carnegie-funded research on social media by proxy; Dr Frances Ryan devised and chaired in plenary the group discussions on research culture; and Peter Cruickshank and I acted as facilitators for Frances’ session.
It was interesting to hear the full ‘story’ of the Carnegie project, not least because at this same event last year Frances introduced the work to the School, just as the point that it was about to start. Gemma reported that she and Frances are currently writing up the work for publication, and that the work completed provides a good platform for a large grant application that she is currently preparing for submission.
The way in which Frances formatted the exercise to prompt discussion on research culture also worked very well. This allowed us to:
- recognise our existing good practice: members of the group that I facilitated found it easy to give examples of this in our School
- identify habits that we should do our best to break: ours focussed on the timing of events that bring us all together
- suggestions for new initiatives to strengthen the research environment within the School as a whole: my group members were most keen to see our research seminar programme coordinated at the level of the School, rather than research group
The discussion in plenary at the end of Frances‘ session revealed that most of us were in agreement on the topics discussed in our groups, and gives us a good starting point to act upon suggestions made in the session.
The photographs in the slideshow give a flavour of the event.