The Blogger’s Guide to Public Engagement
Guest post by Sabina Shah, MPhil/PhD candidate
Subject: Islamic Feminism and its role in cinema
Recently I sent my academic poster to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in order to share my research with them. To my surprise they decided to include my research on their website which was a small but major triumph for a researcher like me starting out in academia. After I had received the email containing news of the link to my research from the MCB, I forwarded the message to my supervisors and also to those who have provided support and guidance throughout the project. This included the Postgraduate Skills Training Development Team (STDT) that had provided the opportunity for postgraduate students, like myself, to design an academic poster. In response to my email, Emily kindly asked me if I would contribute my experiences of public engagement that have generated from the poster, to her blog spot, to which I avidly responded.
The Academic Poster
Initially, STDT asked postgraduate students to participate and present an academic poster as part of ‘The Researcher Showcase’ (TRS) at the Manchester Museum. The learning outcome set by the STDT was to enable the student to acquire the skills to produce and present a poster for a conference. I decided to be a part of this event as it enabled me the opportunity to familiarise myself with presenting research, gradually easing myself into an Academic lifestyle. Furthermore, STDT covered the expenses for the poster, as the hiring of a graphic designer including the production costs of a laminated A1 colour poster can be expensive. Due to this factor a well-designed poster, that states the bare bones of the project, can represent the research throughout the entire MPhil/PhD project.
The Researcher’s Showcase
The poster presentation was a small Public Engagement event. It was great to look at other academic research and subject areas within the University of Manchester, beyond my department. I met a researcher, Vinny Pattison, from the Brooks World Poverty Institute who worked with ethnic minority groups and was interested in sharing my project with grassroots organisations he is associated with. Due to Vinny’s field of research, a local MP visited the presentation. The MP was also very interested in my project and in response to my project’s subject; he spoke of his personal experiences of living in Iran.
I thought my poster was well received by fellow students and the general public who had visited the museum that day. RTS provided a platform to practice engaging people with research and share experiences whether academic or in reflection to the application of research as part of the outside world.
I have found the poster to be a versatile document as it has been saved as a PDF file. The PDF always accompanies the many emails I send to various research institutions and media outlets. Often I print the poster as an A4 document and attach it to my business card, CV and academic writing papers, to provide an outline of the work I do, that is often handed out at conferences or networking events. The use of images and headings outlines the research area. The layout of the poster enables the reader to glance at the poster and understand what the research is, without having to read text at length. Responses from various research and art institutions have responded positively to my research. And, I honestly feel that this response has been because of the poster, as it makes it possible for the reader to understand the research with ease.
Sabina now has her own research blog which you can find here:http://sabinashah.blogspot.com
Want to take part in this year’s Researcher Showcase? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more…