From the perspective of PhD Students: EARLI JURE Conference 18.-20.8.2021

EARLI JURE 2021 is an international learning and instruction related conference held once in every two years and directed to junior researchers such as doctoral students. Our conference experience raised some thoughts concerning what kind of things you should keep in mind when presenting or attending a conference.

Despite JURE 2021 being held online, we wanted to enjoy the experience with one another so we followed the presentations from the university facilities during the three days. The aim of attending an academic conference is to network, present one’s own research and discuss research related topics. Thus, us being able to discuss the topics and ponder what could be asked from the presenter, truly supported the benefits of attending a conference.

For us, this was the third conference we attended as presenters and participants. We were able to present our presentations during the first day, which we both saw as a benefit as being nervous about your own presentation may challenge enjoying other presentations and discussing interesting topics.

Our conference experience raised some thoughts concerning what kind of things you should keep in mind when presenting or attending a conference:

1. In an online conference technology can pose challenges, ‘helpers’ are highly needed!

Internet connections are unstable, power point slides are not working and the microphone is picking up background noise. Though attending a meeting online has been practiced for quite some time now due to the world situation, technology can still pose surprising challenges. It is important to test the features in advance and ask help if needed. In the JURE 2021 conference, a ‘helper’ was allocated for every session whose task was to help in any technology related arrangements. Thus, the ‘chair’ who was guiding the session could rely that the ‘helper’ could provide instructions when technology posed any challenges. Huge applauds for this arrangement for the conference organizers!

2. Remember to introduce your methods!

In addition to background and results, it is necessary to inform the audience, which methods were used to conduct the study. It is quite helpful to introduce the participants of the study, how where they divided into for example intervention groups, what measurements were used and how the data was analyzed. Without introducing the methods, it is quite challenging to interpret findings and conclusions the presenter is making. We have had a rule of thumb in our research group that one slide should be allocated for the background after which you can dig into your own study. The participants are attending the session to learn about your research!

4. Go ahead and ask: the aim is to network and discuss research related topics!

Researchers attend a conference to present their own studies, to learn what kind of research is conducted in the field and to discuss research related topics. So, speak up and ask your questions, the presenters are glad to answer them! As a tip we can share two of our own questions that we have found most helpful: What would you change in your research if you would have the chance? Which are the most important future research suggestions your study reveals?

4. Experience into presenting and discussing comes with experience! 

Especially presenting your first presentation is a very thrilling experience. Based on our experience, the only way of getting comfortable with presenting your work and discussing it, is by doing just so! We have tended to go through all the presentations beforehand in our Active Numeracy research groups doctoral student seminar before the presentation. In these seminars, we have been able to rehearse presenting, go through the slides and ask questions as well as receive comments. These seminars have also been a good way to receive some reassurance from other doctoral students and senior researchers concerning how to present certain sections or how to organize the presentation.

JURE 2021 Doctoral student's presentations from the Active Numeracy research group:

Terhi & Pinja

PS. You can find our first blog post where we introduce ourselves from here.