Early Career Academic Researcher event at the University of Manchester in April 2014

I will be organising a regional event for Early Career Academic Researchers in late April 2014. This event is funded by the British Academy and the Hallsworth endowment at the University of Manchester. The event will be hosted at the University of Manchester, UK. Here is a description of the upcoming event. Please watch this space for more details on the event and who will be eligible to attend.

Event title: ‘Academia 2.0: challenges of impact (reach and change), communication (publications and social media), and relevance’

The event will focus on recent changes affecting academic researchers. Early career researchers face a very different environment if compared to the one faced by more senior researchers at the early stages of their careers. The new set of issues include challenges with reaching and having an impact on society with academic research, as well as the new and changing ways of communicating research findings to a wider audience. One important change, which is the result of new policies amongst research bodies, is the question surrounding ‘relevance’. {Each of these new issue areas are expanded on below). These issues must be grappled with by all early career researchers in the United Kingdom. That is why this event will be attractive to researchers across all disciplines in the humanities.

l. Challenges of impact (reach and change): Questions surrounding who will benefit from research (both within the academic and non-academic or wider public audiences), how, and it what ways that will be ensured are key considerations for all researchers today. With regards to impact on a wider non-academic audience, which has received a greater emphasis in the Research Excellence Framework, questions of impartiality and academic freedom are key criticisms. Also the ways in which data on impact can be gathered and evaluated through appropriate methods has become an important topic of discussion and debate on the measures of influence. These questions will be the main focus of Panel 1.

ll. Communication (publications and social media): The ways in which research makes an impact is by reaching different audiences. Publications continue to be the main way in which academic communities communicate with each other. Indeed the historical and critical debate over how journal publications have been the main stick by which academic strength of university departments are measured will be a feature of Panel 2. However, equally important has been the rise of a plethora of social media outlets by which researchers can reach a wider audience. How the use of blogs, tweets, and other forms of social media can assist (as well as their limitations) researchers improve the reach and impact of their research is an important new agenda for early career researchers.

For these two panels, representatives from civil society organisations and the private sector will share their perspectives on how academic research is able or unable to make an impact on the wider community or society.

III. Relevance of academic research: ‘Relevance’- as the overarching question and concern facing researchers – is fundamentally about the role of the researcher and society, How is the criticism of the separation between the two entities to be confronted with and resolved? Are there instances where the separation of researcher from society is justified? And can separation still lead to societal benefits in the long-run?

The event will also incorporate the international context to the panel discussions. A few panel members will be asked to reflect on the differences and similarities of early career researcher challenges in the United Kingdom with other countries, such as the United States, Germany and one of the BRICs countries. This will be informative for early career researchers that are, will or would like to be academically engaged in other countries.

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