Kickstarting a Collaborative Research Network: Collaboration and Collaborative Work in American Studies
Bianca Scoti, a Postgraduate Researcher in the College of Arts, was awarded New Initiatives funding to kickstart a collaborative research network. Read about the project and her tips for avoiding last minute dramas...
Collaboration has become a hot topic in academia. However, when it comes to its practical approaches, as postgraduate researchers, we are often unsure of what this term entails. Too much of our academic life is spent in solitude, researching archives or shut in our offices writing (well, in my case, staring in despair at a computer screen). This is why a small group of PhD students from the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde decided to jointly organize a two-day event, ‘Collaboration and Collaborative Work in American Studies’, which took place at the University of Glasgow last 4th and 5th December.
On Friday, 4th December, a training and career development workshop sponsored by Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS), provided delegates with information and guidance on the challenges and collaborative opportunities that await postgraduate students and early career researchers in the field of, or with an interest in American Studies. The next day, 5th December, we hosted the Postgraduate British Association of American Studies (BAAS) Conference, during which presenters did a great job at addressing the theme of collaboration in American studies from various perspectives, in several instances by co-authoring and co-presenting papers and panels.
We were lucky to secure funding from several sources, such as the University of Glasgow, The Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies, BAAS and HOTCUS. In particular, we are grateful for the generous support that the University granted us through the New Initiative Fund for the organization of our training day on Friday. Here I would like to focus on this part of the event, which was designed as a roundtable discussion, were attendees actively participated in the discussion. Some of the issues that the panellists addressed included public engagement and collaboration, traditional and new forms of publishing and how to approach life after a PhD in a creative way, using the interdisciplinary nature of American Studies to our own advantage.
Of course, the two days were not just about work. The social part of these events is just as important in fostering future collaborative endeavours and strengthening a sense of community among researchers. Some of the best collaboration projects start over a coffee or- even better- a glass of wine! We were once again very lucky as the Glasgow Marketing Bureau organized a wine reception for us at the City Chambers after our workshop on Friday, the perfect conclusion to a very inspiring day.
I guess I can speak for my fellow organizers too when I say that this was a very rewarding, though challenging, experience. To anyone who wishes to organize a similar event, I would say that good planning is the key to avoiding last minute drama and enjoy the day as much as the other delegates.It takes longer than you might think to apply for funding, find and book venues and contact keynote speakers, so start well in advance. Also, and this is something I cannot stress enough, prepare your budget carefully and wisely, trying to plan for any potential cost, however small, and most importantly, stick to it!
Oh – last piece of humble advice: don’t forget to provide goody bags. Our delegates loved the multicoloured tote bags that matched our event’s logo and the iconic tea cakes that Mr Tunnock kindly donated to us.
Organising committee: Danielle Fleming (also HOTCUS PG rep.), Nicole Cassie, Rachael Alexander (University of Strathclyde and BAAS PG rep.), Bianca Scoti.
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