The work in progress sessions represent a great opportunity, especially for early career academics, to get valuable feedback and advice on ongoing research. These sessions are intended to provide a space to share both the excitement and frustrations of research in progress with a supportive audience bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to a meaningful dialogue.
Those who have submitted a paper for these sessions should take note of the following.
Each presentation is limited to a maximum of 10 minutes, after which there should be around 10 minutes of feedback and discussion.
The benefits of these work in progress sessions to the presenters are many. Nevertheless, some presenters can be be unsure as to how to approach a Work in Progress presentation and how it differs from a conventional research presentation. Here are some thoughts from Sarah Mercer, organiser of the first PLL conference and one of the founders of IAPLL, who outlines just how productive and useful these sessions can be:
Actually, I believe all academics should see themselves and their research as works in progress. These sessions are not only for researchers at the beginning of their careers, they also represent a fabulous opportunity for established researchers to share their work while it is still in its early stages. We are never finished learning or improving and if we believe we are, then we have really failed to understand the nature of our potential for continued growth.
Nevertheless, for early career academics these sessions represent a wonderful opportunity to take the first steps in sharing and discussing with others the joys and inspiration behind the work you have chosen to do as well as enter into rich discussion about any challenges you are facing as well as any unanswered questions you may have about your work. Being a novice researcher can be quite an isolated experience and nobody knows the intricacies of your study like you do, but it can help enormously to talk with others about your work – not with the intention of presenting a finished product, but with the goal of truly entering into dialogue with them about your work in its current and future form.
I remember very early in my own career having a very public run-in with a mean-spirited senior academic, which left me shell-shocked and fearful of discussing my own work with others. I am pleased to say that I was eventually able to move on from that experience, but it has since motivated me to ensure that early career stage academics have as many supportive and open opportunities to discuss their work as possible. It is fabulous that PLL3 have provided such a valuable section in the conference programme.
None of us are perfect and nobody has all the answers. The more we talk with others, listen to their ideas and reflect on our own, the more likely we are to be able to move forward with growth and inspiration. And this applies not only early in one’s career but throughout. I encourage you to make the most of this opportunity by aiming not to impress your audience but aiming to discuss with and learn with your audience. Your attitude and openness to dialogue will impress most serious academics much more than any attempts to force through a final product perception of your study.
I look forward to an exciting and inspiring exchange with early career colleagues discussing and reflecting together with them on their works in progress – a rich opportunity for both of us to learn and grow with each other.
We look forward to seeing you at these Work in Progress sessions at PLL3.