IMG_3851Yesterday marked BCU’s annual ‘ResCon’, an opportunity for staff and students researchers alike to find out about work across the University in the form of short presentations, posters and discussion. In past years student work has been covered in one day and staff in the next, but this year no such distinction was made, and both parties therefore benefit from considering themselves part of the research culture at the University. As is always the case with conferences I didn’t get round to everything, and looked for presentations that were relevant to my subject area (media, and online community media specifically) or that were just generally intriguing.

Mark Reed talked about impact in our research, which we’re fully aware is high on the agenda for REF 2020, and is central to some of the work I’m involved in at the BCMCR research centre at Media. His five principles for impact (Design, Represent, Engage, Impact and Reflect) reminded us that we need to think lucidly about how we address the agenda in our research, for example, knowing from day one the impacts you hope to achieve, sharing literature reviews as outputs (academic or otherwise), and demonstrating the legacy of knowledge exchange beyond project end. The good news is that whilst he doesn’t always see the potential for this kind of applied research in other universities where he runs workshops, it is in the nature of BCU research, so part of the job is also for us to recognise and describe the impact in the work we are already doing.

He also spoke about the nature of interdisciplinary research, as something that shouldn’t just be considered fun or interesting for us to engage in, but that it is in many cases entirely necessary, as research challenges “don’t respect tidy disciplinary boundaries”. More than mono,  multi or even interdisciplinarity, we should actually think in terms of transdisciplinarity, although by this time his diagram became a little overwhelming.

BCU’s Director of Research Keith Osman then briefly set out plans for three new interdisciplinary institutes – I’ll leave the big reveal of those to the University though. The message here though was that research has the potential to innovate and assist economic recovery, and also interests in collaboration between practitioners and users, what we often know as co-creation.

The remainder of the day was spent flitting between talks on swearing in blog comments, research on UK hitmen, online music fan culture, online ‘contract cheating’ practices of students and a fascinating discussion of the ethical position of a researcher when interviewing counter terrorist officers. I missed a few due to clashes and people not presenting on the day, but was able to pick them up via Twitter for later catchup, hopefully.

My own contribution this year came in the form of a poster, naively thinking it would be less work than a presentation, as I did last year. Research posters came from all fields of research across the University, some pictorial, some heavily text-based, some talking about specific research projects from teams, others more generally describing the work of a centre. I’m glad to report I won first prize amongst the staff posters, as judged by the panel (it’s entered as a staff poster even if people are presenting their student work, as was the case with mine). In case you’re wondering, the prize was a box of chocolates.

NB: Other presenters Rachel Marsden and Karen Patel have also written about the conference.

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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