This was the first big M@M event since I became involved as deputy director, so I was anxious to find out whether the event would be a success. The first thing I noticed was that the event was well attended especially by research students. It was great to meet many of you and get to hear something of your research projects. It was also good to meet those who came from Lancaster and Liverpool to join us for the day. I know everyone talks about the importance of networking, but its in the informal spaces of events like this, where you meet people you weren’t necessarily looking to meet and conversations get started that can be the beginings of great research ideas or lead to the solutions to well worn problems.
I enjoyed the dynamic atmosphere of the day which got underway with some ethnographers tales from anthropologist colleagues Tony Simpson and Andrew Hodges and then took a a surprising turn as Uwe Groschel from Drama invited us to watch a performance of interperative dance and convey our imprsessions of it in plasticene!
Entertaining though all this was, it was also the result of an approach to discussing research methods that M@M is keen to encourage. All the talks were prefixed with the phrase ‘why I use…’ and speaker’s brief was to try and give a sense of why they considered the method on question to have been successful in their own research. This starting point provided an interesting alternative to workshops on how to use a particular method and made it much easier to to appreciate the potential of methods you hadn’t considered using and think about how they might be used in your own research area. The next three sessions By Ahmed Derbala from Management Accounting about his use of case studies, Julia Bennet from Sociology on photo diaries and Carol Smart from ‘Realities’ on in-depth interviews provided fascinating new takes on what, for me, are familiar methods.
By this time, parallel sessions had begun in the Bridgeford street building and the lunchbreak provided only just enough time to look at the wide variety of poster showcasing the research methods being used by postgraduates and the exhibitors stands providing an introduction to some of the resources and support on offer.
After lunch I joined in a fascinating workshop session on ethnography, my own preferred research method, hosted by Virinder Kalra and once again, it was fascinating to hear about the different ethnographic projects that the participants were planning and the session was an excellent opportunity to discuss their fears and concerns.
The day was really about becoming aware of new things, however and the next workshop I attended on CAQDAS packages hosted by Christine Rivers from the University of Surrey was very well attended, suggesting that many people, like myself are curious about these packages and wanted to know more. It was very helpful to see four different packages compared and get a sense of what they can do.
For me, the best thing about the day was the energy generated by people meeting, exchanging ideas and generating new ones. A number of people commented to me that they really valued the opportunity to meet others and to ‘meet the experts’ at the informal meeting sessions many held in the exhibition rooms after their talks.
The powerpoint presentations used by the speakers on the day can be found here.
Posted By Dr Ian Fairweather, Deputy Director , Methods@Manchester
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