In this blog post, Neda Mahmoodi adds a commentary following a workshop held by Neda and Glen Jankowski at the ISCHP conference this year in Loughborough, UK. This is an adaptation of the abstract submitted for the ISCHP conference. From this it is possible to get a taste of the workshop’s aims to illustrate the promise of doing research in engaging ways that use audio-visual textual forms.
Time constraints, increasing job precarity, and a ‘publish or perish’ culture can lead many of us frustrated with the impact our research has. Traditionally, research and theoretical studies have been disseminated through articles published in journals, or via conferences presentations. Disturbingly, around 1.8 million journal articles were published in 2015 alone and yet it is estimated that only half of these were actually read (1). However, the rise of the internet, particularly social media, has broadened opportunities. In this year’s workshop sessions during the 10th Biennial ISCHP conference, Glen Jankowski and Neda Mahmoodi discussed some of the free and easy methods to disseminate research beyond traditional academic outputs, including the use of memes. A meme is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol, social idea or concept expressed in some form of content. It can be a photo, a video, a person, a fictional character, an event, a song, a belief, an action, a word or anything else. It’s social phenomenon of mass online sharing makes them ideal for a rapid dissemination of ideas in an open access way, and therefore one small step to putting our ‘work to work’.
During the conference workshop, attendees took part in a fun activity to ‘make a critical psychology related meme’ by captioning presented images. Examples created by workshop attendees includes Mariam Mousa’s (Auckland University of Technology) word art meme of the apple (meme 1) that taps into the theme of mental health and social media. Elizabeth Peel’s (Loughborough University) meme (meme 2) of the two wooden men explored the theme of taking a ‘hard’ line when ‘processing’ knowledge in psychological and scientific research and theory.
The workshop also provided training in ‘how to make a podcast’. In pairs, attendees were given the opportunity to create a podcast by drafting their own interview questions and recording one another. This activity was described by attendees to be enjoyable and valued, with attendees stating that the activity showed how quick and simple it is to make and share a podcast, or a meme. Engaging in the activity gave attendees the confidence and skills to deviate from traditional methods of research outputs.
This week I attended my second International Society of Critical Health Psychology Conference – a good time for a first blog post!
It had been four years since my last ISCHP. Back then I was in the early days of my PhD research and the Bradford conference opened my eyes to a world of passionate critical health psychologists. I was very much looking forward to Loughborough 2017 and it certainly didn’t disappoint. From arriving on a sunny Sunday afternoon to a reception of bangers and mash, and strawberries and cream, to the final (and very inspirational) keynote on the Wednesday by Dave Harper the whole 3 days were just fantastic. Unlike many other conferences where I feel very much on the margins as a critical social psychologist, I feel at home at ISCHP. My impression of ISCHP is that it is a critical space through and through, embracing scholars from many different theoretical and methodologically orientations and addressing a HUGE range of social and health concerns. There appears to be an understanding across the board that the most popular way of doing things is not necessarily the best or most effective one.
Scanning through the conference programme was not a case of locating where ‘my kind of talks’ were on and when but instead (refreshingly) having to face tricky decisions about what to attend and what to miss out on. Two of this events themes (‘diversity and inclusivity’ and ‘ageing’) summed up much of my research and interests, adding to dilemmas over which talks to attend. I thoroughly enjoyed talks on ageing and issues such as social inclusion, physical activity and sexual health. Many of the diversity and inclusivity talks touched upon the challenges of conducting good quality, ethical co-produced research with ‘disadvantaged’ or marginalised communities – these were most definitely relatable.
Presenting in one of two symposia on the theory of social representations was a personal highlight. For me this was an opportunity to position my work in the context of this fascinating and evolving theoretical framework. Between the two symposia, eight scholars (including colleagues at Keele: Michael Murray and Jenny Taylor) presented research on innovations in theory and methodology. It was inspiring to see SRT used to underpin novel methodologies such as film analysis and also to see people exploring different theoretical combinations to better understand social issues.
I came away from ISCHP 2017 feeling inspired, energised and motivated to crack on with the paper I’m currently working on! On top of that I met many friendly like-minded academics who I hope to cross paths with in the future. Already looking forward to ISCHP 2019!
1 Katie Wright-Bevans kindly gave permission for the picture to be republished on ISCHP’s website to accompany this blog post.
For more information about ISCHP 2017’s successful conference in the UK the reader may wish to see the ‘Past conferences’ page of this website.
When the sunny 9 July 2017 opening of ISCHP2017 came around, featuring the book launch of the Critical Approaches to Health book series, and poetry from local BME and men’s mental health group Showcase Smoothie (and local ales, pies and strawberries and cream!) it seemed like only yesterday I was discussing putative themes and keynotes with the ISCHP Committee in front of a log fire in Grahamstown, South Africa two years previously.
We were delighted to host ISCHP2017 at Loughborough and welcome 120 delegates from 24 different countries to the campus. While the parallel streams focused on the conference themes of ageing, diversity and inclusivity, mental health, and innovations in critical theory and method contained excellent critical scholarship, for me it was the plenary sessions (and the ceilidh!) that made the conference.
There was a series of excellent ‘mystery’ provocative five-minute challenges namely:
Are we working within silos of knowledge? (Poul Rohleder);
Considering our discipline’s footprint in addressing global health issues (Britta Wigginton);
Is critical psychology still relevant in a ‘post-truth’ era? (Adam Jowett).
And the cryptically entitled:
Why are we talking about …. again? (Anthea Lesch);
The biggest lie on the Internet (Ally Gibson);
actuALLY (Brett Scholz);
Optimism (Andrea Lamarre); and
An honour of which I am very sensible (Glen Jankowski)
We had six excellent pre-conference workshops. I attended Neda Mahmoodi and Glen Jankowski’s practical session in which we developed impromptu memes and podcasts. Other workshops covered visualising health and illness (Ally Gibson & Andrea LaMarre), multi-media storytelling (Elisabeth Harrison & Carla Rice), using photography (Periklis Papaloukas & Iain Williamson), qualitative research (Wendy Stainton-Rogers & Carla Willig) and conversation analysis (Marco Pino & Charles Antaki). Wider aspects of the conference programme included a very interesting film and a photography display, both very well received.
The four keynote speakers – Ama de-Graft Aikins, Antonia Lyons, Davina Cooper and Dave Harper – did a really excellent job of stimulating thought and discussion around the important topics of Africa’s chronic illness burden, youth drinking cultures, prefigurative concepts, and public mental health respectively. The pecha kucha presentations were diverse and of a very high standard. I’d encourage those already planning (?!) for ISCHP2019 to consider the plenary formats of pecha kucha and five-minute challenge as their submission format of choice: not only do they capture the audience; but you capture a wider audience too. Here you can revisit the full programme_and the book of abstracts.
No conference is complete without dancing and prizes! Our heart rates were impressively raised at the post-Gala dinner ceilidh and book/Routledge book voucher prizes were awarded to the following:
Student presentation: Sarah Gillborn (Leeds Beckett University)
Poster: Ian Williamson (De Montfort University)
Pecha kucha: Craig Owen (St Marys University)
5 minute challenge: Harriet Gross (University of Lincoln)
Social media contributions: Andrea Lamarre (University of Guelph)
Most enthusiastic ceilidh dancer: Glen Jankowski (Leeds Beckett University)
Mine is just one perspective on the conference and there will be many others. As a community is needed to raise a child, so too is one needed to organize a conference, and my thanks go out again to all the conference planning committee, Sue White and other Loughborough team members Kathrina Connabeer, Carolyn Plateau, Laura Thompson and Gemma Witcomb. Psychology technician Peter Beaman popped over at late notice to take this great set of photographs for posterity, enjoy!
Last but not least, please do complete the conference feedback form – a really helpful thing to do, and useful for the team who takes on ISCHP2019.
Tomorrow, 10th March 2017, is the final day for submitting your abstracts for oral presentation formats for our conference – ISCHP 2017 in Loughborough.
You can select from a range of oral presentation formats – pecha kucha (20 visual slides), 5-minute challenge presentations, or the classic oral presentation (10 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions). Symposia of three or four talks are also still open. Abstracts for these oral presentation formats are all due by the end of this Friday (10th March) UK time. Abstracts must be submitted using the forms available at http://ischp2017.weebly.com/oral-presentations.html and sent by email to the conference email address (ISCHP2017@lboro.ac.uk). Abstracts must be a maximum of 250 words with no subheadings or references.
Only ePoster abstracts will be accepted after 10th March (until the final poster abstract deadline of 1st April). Posters will be displayed throughout the conference and are a great opportunity to bring along work you’ve been involved with if your collaborators cannot attend, or for students to attend with late-breaking research.
“Conferences are liturgical celebrations, affirmations of solidarity, symbolic spaces for those who speak a language (whether socialism or orthodontics) unintelligible to most of their fellow-humans, and who therefore need from time to time to relax with those of their own kind, as a cross-dresser might feel the gathering urge to withdraw from the world of the bank or bakery and ease into a pair of corsets” Terry Eagleton The Gatekeeper
Being amongst kind is important for all academics. But when it came to organising the British Psychology Society’s Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMiP) conference in 2017 this need felt particularly salient. To this end, QMiP’s aims have been to provide a safe space as well as an exciting space.
Being critical in a neoliberal discipline can often feel exhausting. We’re fighting an uphill battle and it can seem like little progress has been made, especially when we look at how long we’ve been fighting it.
“We feel that researchers should pay considerably more attention to the practical use of their work over and above the amassing of research findings and the furtherance of careers…the image of a benign body of practitioners waiting to read the journals of pure scientists and put research findings into practice is heart–warming but unrealistic”.
Over the last few years, I have become an ardent advocate of the SUSISD approach (Stand Up, Say It, Sit Down) for conference (and other) presentations, an advocate for short, sharp presentations that focus directly on the key message(s), never more than 3 or 4, that you want to get across. In short, I am a huge advocate for telling it briefly.
We have all been at conference presentations where we were bored by being told semi-irrelevant things, or worse, completely irrelevant things, or even worse again, where we were subjected to Powerpoint karaoke (why don’t some presenters realise that we can read faster than they can talk?). Longer conference presentations (and I mean the 15 minute variety) seem to force delivery of unnecessary or irrelevant content.
For example, someone who has done some great research into Type 1 diabetes and found some intriguing insights needs only to tell us about what they did, what they found, and what that means (the insights part). They do not need to tell us how widespread Type 1 diabetes is, what its long-term effects are, how it is treated, and so on. We only came to find out what is new and different, not what we already knew. Longer presentations (yes, even those 12 minute plus 3-for-questions ones) seem to promote such extraneous, scene-setting content. All reminiscent of a statement from Winston Churchill: “I’m going to make a long speech because I’ve not had time to prepare a short one.” In contrast, short presentations force direct and engaging accounts. Telling it briefly makes it more interesting and engaging.
Why is short and sharp better? Well, as Olivia Mitchell said several years ago (bit.ly/1UvhoXR), they force you to think hard about exactly what you want to say, to carefully plan what you want to say, and to have a clear focus for your presentation. They also force better advance preparation and they stay to time. Everyone in the audience gets the point(s) more easily and, a further bonus, they get to hear more presentations across a session. As Mark Dytham, one of the inventors of pecha kucha, argues, using these short formats for presentations has a liberating effect. “Suddenly, there’s no preciousness in people’s presentations. Just poetry.”
In running our Health Psychology Research Days at Massey University for the last two years, I have become completely dictatorial, and forced presenters to take on one or other one of two presentation
formats, both short; the 5 Minute Challenge or pecha kucha. We have used these presentation formats at our recent ISCHP conferences since Adelaide in 2011 and they have been very well received – who could forget Pedro Pinto’s presentation on puberty at Grahamstown last year, or Catherine Mackenzie’s presentation on deaths from domestic violence in Adelaide, just to take two of many that stand out. However, these formats have not always been taken up quite so well by our presenting attendees. but I hope to see a lot more people taking up the challenge and presenting in these ways at our next meeting in 2017.
So what are these short formats?
Five-minute challenge (5MC) is a format where you present for only five minutes, using only five slides (plus a title slide), and where all the slides are visual (words on slides should be non-existent, or part of the image, or perhaps part of the slide design – like you could have one lovely, lonely word per slide as an image). No animations, no video or sound files, simple transitions. Here, you select those aspects of your research that you consider particularly exciting, fascinating, earth-shattering in importance, and you communicate these and why you think that. For more information, see: www.inc.com/articles/2000/05/18605.html or sbinformation.about.com/od/marketingsales/a/fiveminuteprese.htm
Pecha Kucha (PK) is Japanese (ペチャクチャ) and often translated as chit-chat, but we want it to be a litle more formal than chitchat . In this option, you present for a little longer (6 minutes and 40 seconds), but the slide parameters are more controlled, and the pace is fast. You are allowed 20 slides (exactly), and each is shown for 20 seconds (exactly) – hence your presentation is 6’40” in total. Here too, slides must be visual – no words allowed unless they are included in the image. No animations, no video or sound files, transitions are set to time in advance.