Public Engagement activities as a PhD: offline and online
24 April 2023
My name is Iris van der Scheer and in this blog I would like to share my experiences of two academic events I recently attended. I am very fortunate to have received SPCR Seedcorn funding to attend these events in the past two months. Applications for the Seedcorn professional development fund are invited for the costs of courses for staff development, conference fees and costs of travel. Currently, I am doing a PhD at the department of Primary Care and Population Health at UCL, which explores the discussion of mental health concerns in GP consultations using Conversation Analysis (CA). Both events offered the opportunity to network with people in the field, learn about research, and disseminate my work.
Anéla Werkgroep Interactieanalyse (AWIA) symposium 2022
Every year Anéla, which is the Dutch organisation for Applied Linguistics, organises a symposium where researchers can present their work in both early and advanced stages. The organisers encouraged submissions that align with the theme of ‘Emotion in Interaction’ but other topics were also welcome.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the previous symposium in 2020 was online so I was very happy that we were able to meet in person this year on the 6th and 7th of October. The event gave me the feeling of coming home in several ways. The attendees were friends and colleagues who introduced me to CA as a method and who helped me to grow and eventually become the researcher I am today, for which I am very grateful. Also, Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and being surrounded by a flat landscape and many bikes did make me feel at home.
The symposium was opened by the keynote speaker Prof. Jonathan Potter from Rutgers University who presented his work titled ‘Anger in Interaction’. He talked about different measures that could indicate anger, for example prosody, emphasis and volume, embodied actions and extreme case formulations.
After lunch, several researchers presented their work exploring different types of data ranging from live interviews on COVID-19 to psychotherapy sessions. The presenters had thirty minutes to present their work and respond to questions or comments. After a coffee break, we had a data session and workshop organised by Professor Jonathan Potter and Professor Alexa Hepburn (see photo 1). We were divided into groups and each group was assigned a part of the recording to study. A data session is ‘a variety of CA group work in which participants listen to, or watch, a piece of recorded interaction and then analyze it in the traditional spirit of ‘unmotivated looking’.’ (Antaki et al., 2008). These sessions are a great way of exploring your data together.
After this activity, we travelled to a restaurant called ‘Vascobelo’ in Amsterdam to have dinner together. This way another great opportunity to get to know and catch up with people. Not only talking about research but also about people’s personal lives and experiences. One of the things I like about the CA community is that it is very friendly and supportive.
The next day more researchers presented their work. There was a great variety of topics and contexts. For example, hypothetical questions, metaphors, and the exploration of emotion. For me, listening to other researchers talking about their work confirms why CA is such a fascinating method and what different purposes it can have in different contexts. Luckily, I also had the chance to present my work during the morning. I presented a case study showing the different conceptualisations that might be used to refer to a psychological issue. The attendees had interesting questions and comments regarding my presentation. For example, ‘how do you decide when something is considered a mental health concern?’ and ‘do you see the same interactional pattern when observing consultations in which only physical concerns are discussed?’. These questions will help me in shaping my analysis. All in all, the symposium was a great event which showed me the benefits of meeting people in person again and I hope to attend the next edition in Groningen in 2023.
Digital Meeting for Conversation Analysis (DMCA)
From the 31st of October till the 4th of November the Digital Meeting for Conversation Analysis took place. The event and the program were organised by a committee with members from all over the world. This was the first edition of the conference and it consisted of two streams taking place in tandem: one for the Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (EMCA) community in Oceania and East Asia, and one for the community in the Americas, Europe and Africa. Making it a hybrid conference enabled many researchers coming from different continents to attend and this made it very inclusive. The conference was being held on the platform Whova.
The conference was opened by the keynote speaker, Professor Emma Betz from the University of Waterloo, who talked about the role of ‘okay’ as a (possible) repair preface which means that it can indicate that after ‘okay’ the previous speech will be changed/repaired. After the keynote, the first parallel sessions started, during which researchers had fifteen minutes to present their work and five minutes for a Q&A.
After the keynote, several presentations during which researchers presented their work started. I attended talks focusing on classroom interaction varying from simulation-based to video mediated education. At the end of the day, other PhD students and I had the chance to attend the ‘Meet the Prof’ event with Professor Elizabeth Couper Kuhlen (see photo 2). It was lovely to get to know each other, reflect on our research, and ask questions.
Day two of the conference started with a great live podcast about life in EMCA by Dr Bogdana Huma, Dr Chase Raymond and Professor Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen. They talked about how to tackle the slowness of publishing by trying to be involved in different projects and collaborating with others. Other topics included how to present your research to a broader audience and how to develop your career outside academia.
The conference did not only include presentations and keynotes but also workshops. I attended the workshop by Dr Edward Reynolds titled ‘Ethnography, Ethnomethodology and being competent to analyse data: Strategies for making data sensible’. It was a useful workshop during which we analysed data from powerlifting sessions recorded by himself. We discussed the importance of trying to understand what the participants in your data are going through, which will help in making your data more sensible.
On Thursday the keynote focused on publishing in EM/CA/Interactional Linguistics (IL) research, and I liked the different perspectives of the speakers on the publication process. I also appreciated the honesty of the speakers about the process and how common it is to receive rejections. They also talked about practical tips for publishing (e.g. how to respond to feedback) and that you should take into account the audience you are writing for. What do they need to know to understand the claim you are making?
On Friday, during the last keynote, Dr Pentti Haddington and Dr Marie Flinkfeldt talked about grant writing. Again, the speakers were very open and honest about how they obtained their grants and that you might receive X amount of rejections before you get a successful grant. Also, I got the chance to present my work later that day. I presented a different case study on Friday afternoon. Attendees were really engaged and had interesting comments which will help me with my analysis.
I would like to thank the organisers of both the AWIA symposium and the DMCA for their hard work and for the organisation of these great events. If you are a researcher in the field of EMCA I would highly encourage you to attend future editions of these events.
Antaki, C., Biazzi, M., Nissen, A., & Wagner, J. (2008). Accounting for moral judgments in academic talk: The case of a conversation analysis data session.