You’ll no doubt be well aware of the increasing pressure on academic and research staff to explain their research in terms of the difference it might make to ‘real world’ issues and challenges. Research Councils and other funders are under pressure themselves to account for how they choose to distribute funding, and therefore want to be clear about how your work might have ‘economic and social’ as well as academic ‘impact’. There is therefore a real need for current and future researchers to be able to explain their research and its potential implications in terms that can be understood both by academic peer reviewers and by the public who ultimately fund the research. Indeed the AHRC have recently published a guide outlining the benefits of public engagement for researchers:
To justify the impact of their work to funders, successful researchers will not only need to develop excellent communication skills, but will also need the research and networking skills necessary to identify the non-academic groups and individuals who may be interested in their research. Future academics also need the interpersonal skills to convince these people or groups that the research is important and has the potential to impact on their work. Such skills are often difficult to teach in workshops and courses, and require real practice to hone and perfect.
In order to help researchers to develop and practice these skills, the Humanities Faculty holds an annual ‘Researcher Showcase’ event which is intended not only to give researchers the opportunity to showcase their current research to potentially interested groups, but also offers the opportunity for researchers to develop their presentation, networking and communication skills. Participants are supported in preparing a display of their research centred around a poster, for exhibition as part of an Undergraduate Open Day. Participants are also encouraged to identify, and invite members of the public, representatives from industry, local government, the public sector or charities who might be interested in the results of the research, the methodology or in a potential collaboration.
Details of the Event
This year’s Showcase will take place over two days, beginning on the afternoon of Friday June 18th and continuing throughout the day on Saturday June 19th. On Friday, participants will set up their displays and the event will open with an address by Prof. Bertrand Taithe (the Humanities Faculty’s Associate Dean for Post-Graduate Researchers), and an opportunity for participants to invite their Supervisor or PI as well as other interested members of their department. On Saturday, Open Day attendees will be encouraged to view the Showcase in order to get a sense of the kind of research that goes on at Manchester, and invited members of the public will also have the opportunity to view the exhibition and speak to participants about their current and future work.
If you’re interested in taking part in the Showcase, let me know by e-mailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Space at the venue (in University Place) is limited, so we have to restrict the number of researchers who will be able to showcase their work. There will be a short briefing meeting for those taking part in mid-May (firm date to follow).
You may also want to attend a forthcoming workshop, which will outline how participation might help to develop your skills and profile, and will offer some tips on presenting your research in poster form. For more information, and to book a place on this workshop go to: http://www.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/humnet/acaserv/pgresearch/skillstraining/PGRtraining/course/index.htm?id=369