Microblog post by Elaine Lum (@ElaineLumx)
This week, I found myself participating in a conference with a difference – the 9th Health Services & Policy Research conference in Melbourne.
Yes, the conference theme and program was interesting. See Melissa Sweet’s Croakey site for an excellent coverage of key research ideas worth pursuing (and funding) by Jennifer Doggett.
Yes, I was there to present my paper on ‘What consumers think, do and say about antibiotic use’, which was well received by an engaged audience (despite being the morning after the Conference dinner).
Yes, it had the expected features of professional conferences: Plenary sessions with eminent keynote speakers in their field, concurrent sessions for oral presentations, posters in the foyer, Sponsors’ booths…you get the idea.
So how was
this conference different? Let me explain.
Having been involved in organising and scientific committees for national conferences in the past, I know how much time (2-3 years) and work goes into planning and delivering an excellent multi-day conference. Hence, I’m always on the lookout for ideas worth replicating (OK, pinching) for when I’m next called to serve on a conference committee. I found the following three features a breath of fresh air (and pinch-worthy).
- Speed mentoring sessions for ECRs: Just like speed dating, only it’s about research. This was held as a lunchtime session for early career researchers (ECRs) where small groups of 3 to 5 ECRs were speed mentored by an experienced researcher. Mentors were a mix of academic and clinician researchers, and provided advice on ‘everything you wanted to know about a career involving research but were afraid to ask’. Topics ranged from experiences with grant applications, career pathways, research direction, being a supervisor during your ECR years and more. The session format and logistics need a little tweaking, but worked well overall. This was a great opportunity for ECRs to engage with an experienced researcher and acted as an ice-breaker-conversation-starter all rolled into one. Many conversations were continued for the duration of the conference (and beyond).
- Twitter awards: Conference delegates were encouraged to tweet. The conference hashtag #hsr15 was publicised early. Pre-conference, delegates were encouraged to tweet about what they were looking forward to. During the conference, tweets by delegates were noted and a fun prize was awarded for Best Tweet of the Day (shout out to Megan Campbell of AusHSI, who won
- Three minute thesis competition (or 3-minute snapshot presentation competition, according to the conference program): A well-loved activity in universities. A no-brainer to incorporate into a conference. It’s fun, it’s cool, and it’s part of research dissemination.
AusHSI is organising the 10th Health Services & Policy Research conference in 2017. Which speakers would you like to hear from and what features would you like to see incorporated into the conference program?
Acknowledgements: Participation at this conference was jointly funded by the Centre of Research Excellence: Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections (CRE-RHAI) and QUT.