Last week I presented my poster at SICSA PhD Conference 2022 held at Glasgow Caledonian University. I was able to meet other PhDs at different stages of their projects, which was the perfect opportunity to reflect on my work and explore others’ doctoral journeys. Have fun!
The SICSA Conference
Every year the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) organises a general PhD conference open to Scottish universities. Students are able to display their work during the poster session or even take part in a dissertation competition. The organizers didn’t come up short on making the event more engaging and interesting by arranging insightful guest lectures. This year organizers added a Reverse Viva session where participants could ask questions about the PhD thesis to its authors. Additionally in this 2-day event, delegates were able to attend various workshops on Intellectual property; Getting the job you want after finishing your PhD; Post pandemic computing science education; Bricolage for blended spaces and Early career research.
It was my first attempt at a scientific poster. Seeing the massive amount of examples that almost always look the same, I came up with the new layout. Unfortunately, the layout seemed to be the sole strength of the poster since I was unable to win the competition lol. However, I managed to draw the attention of other PhD researchers, which gave me an opportunity to discuss my research and answer some questions which was a fun experience. In the past, I saw little to no purpose in events like that, however, this year I tried to get rid of any prejudices and try my best. It was not always smooth, some people genuinely liked the project and were keen on engaging in a conversation, whereas for some it wasn’t that interesting (I don’t blame you!).
The poster session allowed me to meet some new interesting PhDs and explore some of their research as well. I learned about what my fellow peers work on now, which gives me a better idea of potential collaborators for future projects. One thing I found odd was the way the posters were judged. The session was announced to all participants after one of the guest lectures, which many students planning on checking out the posters for the first time. Together with the judges moving around and trying to assess each of the posters, this just resulted in a slight mess. Probably it would be beneficial in the future for the judges to remain anonymous, it would put less pressure on the presenters and also lead up to more natural discussions.
Although there were many keynote speakers, my favourite sessions were delivered by Kyle White and Stewart Whiting, who talked about their journeys in launching a start-up during a PhD. It was very inspirational to see how many things can be achieved in such a long time. I was amazed to see how with persistence and motivation you can achieve huge success (and be able to finish PhD, ha!). Their stories gave me a fresh perspective on my future plans and also some ideas, but too soon to share anything yet.
Workshop session: Bricolage for blended spaces
To be entirely frank, the only reason I attended this workshop was that I had no idea what bricolage was. Luckily my amazing colleagues from Edinburgh Napier University, Emilia Sobolewska and Callum Egan were happy to explain the concept. To keep it brief, bricolage is the methodological approach that involves applying multiple different methodologies for the same problem and testing them all at the same time. Together with the concept of blended spaces, where a physical environment and a virtual environment are deliberately integrated, these two make quite a strong case for project design process. If you are interested more in how bricolage can be used in research, I recommend Emilia’s piece on Tailoring methodological bricolage to investigate non-discretionary use of digital technology.
The SICSA PhD conference this year was great! It was good to see all of us PhDs together, discussing our research, sharing stories with each other and having fun doing so! The venue was great and the fact that such a big event remains free to attend says a lot about SICSA. I believe that initiatives like this benefit the research community and ensure that more people will choose to pursue their own research in the future. Looking forward to the next year’s edition and can’t wait to discuss my research progress with some of the people I met this year!