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Psychology PGR Conference May 2024

Conference report by Georgia Tuohy on the Psychology PGR Conference financed by DCAD Researcher Development Programme (RDP) Conference and Events Grant.

On 1st May 2024 the Psychology Department hosted the 18th annual PGR conference. It was organised by Bhakti Khati and me (Georgia Tuohy). The day consisted of a keynote talk from visiting speaker Dr Mingyuan Chu, two poster sessions, two long talk sessions with talks lasting 12-15 minutes and finally a flash talk session consisting of 5-minute talks. Prior to the conference day, Bhakti and I approached various members of the department to ask if they would be comfortable judging posters, talks and flash talks. Each section had two judges that picked one winner per session. They also selected “special mentions”. The day ended with announcing the prize winners and acknowledgements. Attendance was very good with high staff and student turnout.

Overall, the day was a great success with very few hiccups. The Psychology department has seen a huge expansion in the last few years, so the principal positive outcome was getting to mingle and interact with new members of the department – both staff and PGR students. Furthermore, the large number of first year PhD and MRes students that took part were provided the opportunity to experience their first conference. Many said they were happy they had the chance to practice printing a poster and receiving questions during the poster session.

Bhakti and I learned a vast amount while organising this conference. Firstly, it was an excellent exercise in teamwork. We had many tasks to get through but early in the academic year we divided the tasks between us. We trusted that the other person would complete the task on time and so this eased the pressure of completing the list of tasks. We met regularly to discuss what tasks we had successfully completed. Furthermore, if either of us felt overwhelmed by tasks we approached the other to delegate tasks to them or another person altogether. Furthermore, we interacted with many people in our department’s administration that we would not normally have the chance to chat with. They were hugely instrumental in helping us and we feel immense gratitude for them.

Secondly, we both gained skills in organisation which has boosted our confidence. In organising we had to take many factors into account such as departmental rules, room availabilities, budget, number of participants – the list goes on. We also had to choose a keynote that would be of interest to everyone. We provided the PGRs with three options for keynote speakers and they voted on who they would be most interested in. We then contacted him and coordinated his travel and accommodation based on his preferences and our budget. Overall, the day worked well so the thought that went into the organisation of the day paid off.

Advice I would offer future conference organisers is to acknowledge the needs of the participants as much as possible. There were one or two people that were over-stimulated and overwhelmed during the poster sessions. We did place these students at the edges of the poster session to help with this, but we could perhaps have done three shorter sessions rather than two long sessions to aid this. There were also a few people that did not receive emails about the conference. This is due to not emailing certain lists so I would check beforehand with your department that you are provided with a comprehensive list of mailing lists to ensure everyone is notified!

We are incredibly grateful for DCAD’s financial support in carrying out the Psychology PGR conference. I would also like to add that I am particularly grateful for your flexibility when our dates for the conference changed. It has been a great learning opportunity to organise a conference which provided a supportive environment for the PGR community to practice their dissemination skills.

Bhakti Khati and me (Georgia Tuohy)