GHWRG Virtual Hack Day – When Research Gets Personal

About this Event

Dates and times of sessions

  • 7thAugust 10am-11:30am
  • 14thAugust 10am-11:30am
  • 20thAugust 2pm-3:30pm

The three sessions are separate events, not repeats. Book free tickets for any of the sessions through Eventbrite

The Hack Day: When research gets personal

Distinctions between work and life are often blurry, and these can be even more so when the research we undertake has a personal connection. In addition to this, some of the populations we engage with in our research may also be disempowered and subject to inequalities, and managing these relationships can be personally challenging and take additional time to manage carefully. In these hack day sessions we will explore the challenges of negotiating research when we or those close to us are directly affected. Through discussions, conversational methods, and (hopefully- zoom permitting) some virtual creativity, the hack days will focus on the practical and ethical challenges of doing this research.

 

At the RGS-IBG 2019, researchers spoke of negotiating the challenges of researching questions of health and wellbeing when either they, or those close to them, were directly affected. Conversations around the lived experiences of doing research have also been gaining traction beyond the RGS. These include troubling questions around support and precarity, made even more concerning by the long-term uncertainties that COVID-19 has brought to the sector. The Wellcome Trust’s most recent review of research cultures highlights the concerns around work-life (in)balance and burgeoning mental health issues. Distinctions between work and life are often blurry, and these can be even more so when the research we undertake has a personal connection.

In addition to this, some of the populations we engage with in our research may also be disempowered and subject to inequalities. This can mean that we may have to tread carefully to ensure that our research questions and methodologies seek to empower participants, or at least do not further exacerbate issues. Managing these relationships can be personally challenging and take additional time to manage carefully. This also raises particular questions around COVID, and the impacts of this on who might be in(ex)cluded from taking part in our research.

In the hack day(s) we will explore the challenges of negotiating research when oneself or those close to us are directly affected. Through discussions, conversational methods, and (hopefully- zoom permitting) some virtual creativity, the hack day will focus on the practical and ethical challenges of doing this research. In holding space for open and honest conversations, we will consider the following questions, as well as others that emerge as pertinent;

– What are the implications (professionally, personally) for doing research that we have a connection to?

– Is support available to deal with concerns, and to check that we are okay? What might we like this support to look like if it isn’t in place? Whose responsibility is this, (and perhaps, who’s should this be)?

– How does this sit within wider ethical questions? For instance, around disclosure, and what we choose to share with those who may participate in research?

– How might we capture or conceptualise these experiences in a way that can be shared and useful for others doing research now (and those to come in the future)?

We hope, by the end of the hack day(s), that we can start to compile a resource of experiences (that we feel comfortable with sharing outside the event), things that have helped, and some of the challenges. This will be a space for our own reflections, as well as an effort to offer support in some way for others enduring these things (now, as well as in the future).

Extra additions also welcome to join any of the days- children, plants, animals and so on.

These sessions will be held over 3 weeks, in an effort to include as many people as possible, recognising commitments on time. We know that additional commitments might make attending all three parts difficult. Therefore, please do come along to any that you are able to- even if this is just part of the three virtual meetups. Please choose those you are able to attend in the ‘select dates’ option.

Given the personal, and potentially emotive nature of these discussions, you are welcome to join in and dip out as you feel able. Accounting for these conversations, the event, with the exception of the pre-recorded talks that will be shared in advance of the first meeting, will not be audio or visually recorded.

Online details for the event will be shared via email, after registration.

 

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A short note on COVID: Before the complications of Covid-19, we had designed a hack-day to attend to the realities of doing research that is personal. Hack days are intended to provide opportunities to discuss tricky questions in detail, working collectively to get to the heart of an issue, and to generate new ideas around it.

Now somewhat unimaginable, these original plans had involved sitting beside each other for discussions, sharing packets of biscuits, making things together out of playdough. While the opportunity to sit within two meters of each other might have temporarily gone away, the need to carefully attend to the ethical and emotional aspects of academia and research feels more prominent than ever. How we interrogate, think through and support work which is personal, and which carries a potentially heavy weight remains even when everything else (including support available) feels like it’s changing.

Therefore, this year’s hack ‘day’ will be held via a series of three short virtual get-togethers over three weeks. As geographers we know that it is not just physical closeness that brings us together. Virtual spaces and information technologies can narrow distances and may sometimes be just as powerful. In moving to bedrooms, kitchens, hallways and gardens across the country, we also hope that the learning from this will provide a model for how we can ensure virtual participation is included in all future post-pandemic events for those who need it.

 

For any queries relating to this event contact: Gabrielle King gabrielle.king@ed.ac.uk 

 

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