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BU Research Conference 2023: Embracing failure (and eating cake…)

The 2023 Research Conference took place on one of the hottest days of the year so far.

Dr Jan Peters MBE gives the keynote speech at the BU Research Conference 2023

Dr Jan Peters MBE gives the keynote speech at the BU Research Conference 2023

The theme of this year’s conference was also a hot topic: failure, and how to deal with obstacles and setbacks throughout the research journey.

Opening the conference, Professor Einar Thorsen, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Media and Communication, set the tone for the event – speaking openly and honestly about times when his research hasn’t gone to plan.

Keynote speaker Dr Jan Peters MBE shared stories from her time working in both academia and industry and the lessons she’d learnt – from embracing your strengths to avoiding comparing yourself to others.

Professor Ann Hemingway and Professor Sam Goodman share their insights for overcoming academic rejection

Professor Ann Hemingway and Professor Sam Goodman share their insights for overcoming academic rejection

In a joint keynote, Professor Ann Hemingway and Professor Sam Goodman, shared their advice and insights into experiencing and overcoming academic rejection. As well as presenting some choice comments they’d received from reviewers in the past, they also shared their tips for ‘failing better’, including the 3 Rs – resubmit, repurpose or restart.

Over lunch, attendees had the chance to decorate ‘failure cakes’ with the team from the Centre for Health, Science and Communication Research, icing cupcakes with positive messages for those who might have experienced failure.

Three people decorating cupcakes

Failure cake decorating as part of the BU Research Conference 2023

In the afternoon, workshops offered the opportunity to learn practical tips and strategies for dealing with difficulties. Topics covered included building resilience, articulating your strengths, repurposing grant applications and improving writing approaches.

The conference was closed by Robert Seaborne from Inside Academia, who spoke about the dichotomy between the core values of research (learning through failure to discover something new or unknown) and the success metrics which pervade academic culture.

A close-up image of Robert Seaborne presenting at the BU Research Conference

Robert Seaborne closing the BU Research Conference

Discussing his own experience of burnout during his PhD and the scale of mental health issues seen within academia, Robert also shared the advice he’d give to his younger self – which include the need to rest and recover and maintain the activities outside of academia that help you stay happy and healthy.

The Research Conference is an annual event organised by the Research Excellence Team in RDS to bring BU’s academic and research community together to learn, share, network and discuss key topics from the world of research.

A big thank you to everyone who supported or attended this year’s conference. If you have any feedback or suggestions of topics for future years, please get in touch at research@bournemouth.ac.uk

Book now – BU Research Conference 2023: Embracing Failure, Building Success

We all shy away from using the ‘F’ word – failure. But whether it’s a funding bid not being successful, a journal article being rejected, or findings not being as hoped, problems and setbacks are a normal part of the research journey. Understanding how to overcome and learn from these moments of ‘failure’ is key to a successful academic career.

The BU Research Conference is back for 2023 and this year’s event will explore the concept of failure in academia and building the resilience to learn from setbacks and overcome obstacles that may be in your path.

The conference will take place in the Fusion Building (Talbot Campus) on Wednesday 14 June, with a mix of inspirational speakers and practical workshops.

The day will run from 10am – 4.30pm, with lunch and refreshments included. It will be followed by a drinks reception to network with colleagues and chat to your peers about your own experiences.

We’re finalising the schedule but already have an exciting mix of internal and external speakers confirmed.

Our first keynote speaker for the conference will be Dr Jan Peters MBE. Jan is an engineer, consultant and campaigner for diversity and inclusion in STEM. A former president of the Women’s Engineering Society, her background is in materials research and hi-tech manufacturing, before helping academics build relationships with industry partners. In 2017 she was awarded an MBE for services to women and engineering and an honorary doctorate from Bournemouth University.

Jan’s talk, Embracing failure my way, will explore the impact of failure and how we each respond differently. And how, by knowing what drives us, we can harness our energy to bounce forwards.

BU’s very own Professor Ann Hemingway and Professor Sam Goodman will give the second conference keynote, Reckoning with Reviewer 2: Experiencing (and overcoming) Academic Rejection.

Closing the day will be Robert Seaborne, who founded Inside Academia – an online platform dedicated to positively changing the culture of mental health, wellbeing and mindset within academia.

Robert is currently a postdoctoral fellow at University of Copenhagen whose own experiences struggling with pressures and stressors during his PhD and early post-doc years had a big impact on his wellbeing.

Robert’s talk will delve into his personal reflections, the mental health landscape in academia and what tools and strategies could help equip us to navigate this journey more positively.

We’ll also have a range of practical workshops, covering topics including building resilience, repurposing failed funding applications, and improving writing practices.

We’ll be sharing more details over the coming weeks and months but you can book your place for the conference now via Eventbrite to be kept up-to-date with all the latest information.

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