The RSA 2019 student and early career conference was held in the University of Lincoln, where we were welcomed by Dr Gary Bosworth and his colleagues from the School of Geography and the Lincoln International Business School. They shared some of their work, with a focus on designing and carrying out research for policy impact. This was an opportunity to learn and ask questions about the best way to make research more impactful and useful for influencing and shaping policy.
The closing session on the first day was on the MICaRD (Migration, Inter-Connectivity and Regional Development) RSA research network, of which Lincoln University was part of. This provided insights not only into the type of research that was carried out, but also about how to make the most of RSA research networks and learned societies and how they can create a forum which brings together individuals from different universities, departments, disciplines and countries with similar research interests, to help achieve better and more relevant research outcomes.
The second day focussed on career development and academic publishing, with a morning session by Daniela Carl from the RSA on how to best approach academic publishing as well as an overview of the RSA journals and the services they offer to early career researchers. In addition, we heard about career development from a panel of speakers with varied backgrounds, career journeys and current occupations.
There were several parallel sessions on both days, covering a broad range of topics related to regional policy. In one of these, I shared my research on economic complexity indices and their application to the service sector, looking at the case of Mexican regions. The parallel sessions are great spaces to present and share research with a small but engaged audience which is interested and keen to ask questions and give feedback on possible improvements or ways to overcome challenges which others may have also experienced.
As a first year PhD student who is just starting out on this journey, it was great to meet PhD students, postdocs, and early career individuals who are already some steps ahead. It not only motivated me to carry out the best work and research and to idealise my journey, but also provided a great network of people I could learn from and talk to about the common challenges of doing research and working towards a PhD. It also provided the opportunity for self-reflection on the most effective ways to present and convey ideas in conferences, both from my own presentation and other speakers’.
Finally, the conference was very well organised and ran smoothly throughout both days, with many opportunities to network with other participants such as coffee breaks, lunches and the conference dinner. The location of the conference changes each year, and therefore it is also an opportunity to learn about the host university, the research being carried out in the host departments and to meet scholars and professors from there.
I strongly encourage people at all levels of their research to apply to and participate in future student and early career conferences!