EXPANSION OF ERG MENTORING OPPORTUNITIES: Recognising the impact of the pandemic on emerging researchers’ opportunities to engage with development activities, the ERG continued to expand the number of mentoring opportunities available to members, specifically for reviewing ERC abstracts. The three main different mentoring opportunities are now highlighted on the EERA website here. 21 emerging researchers were given the opportunity to be mentored to review ERC2021 proposals. All mentoring opportunities involved the virtual ‘shadowing’ of and receiving feedback on reviews by an experienced academic. The Conftool ‘meta review’ function was used to offer these opportunities, with the current ERG Senior Mentor and the previous ERG Senior Mentor supporting with mentoring inexperienced emerging researchers in learning how to review and provide high-quality feedback on submitted proposals. This mentoring process is now more than ever a robust pipeline of academic and organisational skills and knowledge development for emerging researchers. Moving forward, as is now an annual practice, all emerging researchers who attended the ERG meeting have been offered the opportunity to mentored as a subsequent ERC abstract reviewer. In this mentorship programme, experienced researchers will continue to mentor emerging researchers who may not have prior experience through the review process. Demand is matched by the resources available, and there is no guarantee that everyone who requests this will be given the opportunity. For ERC2021, though, thanks to the continued generous volunteering of senior academics, we have been able to meet the requests of all emerging researchers who sought to be mentored for the ERC reviews. All those emerging researchers who were mentored gave overwhelmingly positive feedback about the impact of the experience, summarised in the following quote from one of them:
“I am writing in response to your request for feedback about the review mentorship process. First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you for having chosen me as a mentee, and the EERA Council for this unique opportunity of being mentored by an experienced reviewer. For me, as a first-time reviewer at a conference of such a scale, this experience was invaluable. At the beginning of the reviewing process, I felt quite insecure because of the multiple questions and doubts I had. Thus, it was immensely reassuring and encouraging to know that I wasn’t alone in the process and that I had a shoulder of my mentor to rely on. My mentor, to whom I am utterly grateful, was exceptionally helpful and professional. Her constructive comments and suggestions effectively guided me throughout the reviewing process. Also, the clear and structured reviewing criteria provided for the reviewers were particularly helpful. Overall, I found this initiative extremely beneficial for developing my reviewing skills and boosting my confidence as a reviewer. My only suggestion would be to think of ways to acknowledge this experience with a certificate or a similar document. I believe such a document could be a valuable asset for Ph.D. students and early career researchers. Thank you very much again for this opportunity and the organization process.”
As a result of this feedback, a decision was taken to offer certificates of recognition to all those emerging researchers who were mentored for ERC reviews in 2021, and in the future.
BEST PAPER AWARD: The ERC 2020 Best Paper review process continued to be streamlined during 2020-2021, and included much wider involvement by members of EERA Council. 13 reviewers reviewed 13 Best Paper Award submissions. The emerging researcher Best Paper Award 2020 winner was Pontus Bäckström’s paper “The Mechanisms of Peer-Effects in Education: A Frame-factor Analysis of Instruction” which investigates how peer effects in education arises. Further details on the Best Paper Award are available here. For the second year in a row, all those papers that were not recommended for onward publication following the conclusion of the Best Paper Competition, were offered the opportunity for detailed further specialised feedback by a senior academic from a relevant network for each particular paper. This year, three authors took up the opportunity and were provided with detailed feedback on their papers, including suggestions about journals to target for publications, based on the foci of their respective papers. Further supporting authors for the ERC2021 Best Paper Award process, the presentation from the EERJ workshop on ‘Writing for your Research Community, Writing for the EERJ’ was linked through in all communications with potential authors, and published to the Best Paper competition information webpage. The slides gives an overview, from the perspective of an Editors of the European Educational Research Journal (EERJ) of what editors look for in a paper, and also makes suggestions about how emerging researchers could focus on which journals to publish in. Additionally, a link was signposted for authors of empirical social science research who would potentially find it useful to read the following guidelines for reports of education research grounded in the empirical traditions of the social sciences. They cover, but are not limited to, what are commonly called qualitative and quantitative methods:
ERG BURSARY REVIEW PROCESS: A member of EERA Council continues to be involved with the bursary review process which is now more transparent than ever before. In addition to the reviews undertaken by two Senior Mentors, two ERG co-convenors also contributed to the bursary reviews, which is now standard reviewing practice.
EERA SUMMER SCHOOL: This took place in June 2021 and was a great success. This active participation and collaboration between ERG and the Annual EERA Summer School organisers is planned to continue in the coming years with the ERG Link Convenor making time to contribute to the EERA 2022 Summer School that will be held in Porto.
The Emerging Researchers’ Group continues a productive and fruitful cooperation with two journals to provide the opportunity for emerging researchers to submit their work for onward peer review and potential publication:
- the European Educational Research Journal (EERJ)
- Studia Paedagogica
These opportunities follow the ERC Best Paper Award process, wherein papers presented at the ERC are developed into journal articles and submitted for a two-stage double-blind formative peer review process within the Emerging Researchers’ Group. Following this process, selected papers are submitted to the EERJ and Studia Paedagogica, depending on how they fit in with the scope of each journal. Onward peer review follows. Studia Paedagogica implements a critical-friendly round of pre-reviews before which papers are recommended for the official review process. An example of the impact this process has on emerging researchers in indicated in the following testimony
“The reviewer’s comments were exceptionally helpful and encouraging in working through the original paper. We worked hard to address all the reviewer’s concerns and to incorporate the suggestions and hope that you will find our paper to be a substantial improvement on our previous one.”
Authors whose papers are not successful in the pre-review round are sent brief feedback and recommended areas for further development. These papers, are also shared, with permission, with the relevant network’s convenor for further specialised feedback from a colleague within that network. As a result of this comprehensive review process, a number of successes continue to be reported.
Further augmenting the collaboration between the ERG and EERA’s flagship journal, EERJ, is the representation of the EERJ editors on the review committee for the ERG Best Paper Award. Following the installation of the new editors of the EERJ in 2020, we are happy to report the continuing strong association between the ERG and EERJ that has been developed over the past few years.
Planning continues for a face-to-face ERC2022 in Yerevan. As part of this, the following plans will be put into place, based on feedback from the previous in-person ERC2019:
- The ERC’s poster sessions continue to be well-received, however, as per feedback from ERC2019, some changes need to be made:
- All posters will be displayed in a central location, particularly in view of feedback that the poster exhibition needed to be longer, and not amalgamated with the coffee break.
- Poster presentations will be only 5 mins per poster presentation + 5 minutes Q&A.
- Whether ERC2022 goes ahead online, or in-person, the following shall be requested of ERC2022 LOC to ensure, when putting together the Interactive Session that is led by local academics:
- The interactive session breakout groups need to have moderators, or barring that, then, to ensure there is clarity provided about what is expected of the breakout discussions.
- The following initiatives shall be also explored for ERC2022, all being well:
- Arrangements for those with hearing/visual impairments to sit at the front for opening and closing ceremonies, the keynote and interactive session.
- The possibility of stream capturing the ERC2022 keynote
The ERG co-convenor would like to offer much gratitude to the following colleagues, without whom none of the ERG’s achievements and activities over the past year would have been possible.
- ERG co-convenors, including shadow co-convenors
- ERG Senior Mentor
- ERG Senior Fellows
- EERA Office
- EERA Exec
- EERA Bursary reviewers
- ERC proposal reviewers
- ERC Best Paper Competition reviewers
- EERA Summer School hosts
- ERC mentors/ chairs
- LOC and the ERC2021 hosting institution and organisation(s)
- EERA Council Members and National Association representatives • EERA Network Convenors, co-convenors and members
- ERC2021 and EERA Summer School presenters, invited speakers and workshop facilitators
- ERC2021 and EERA Summer School participants
- Additional volunteers not included in any of the above-mentioned groups
Each individual contributed in an integral way to ensure the success and impact of activities, and as such, we remain indebted to them, and look forward to working with them for the ongoing success and commitments to delivering the best opportunities possible for our emerging researcher community.
Join the ERG platform "EERA Emerging Researchers' Group" on LinkedIn This space for the ERG has the purpose of being a more interactive platform where members can contact each other directly and where they may exchange information and resources. It will also provide information about the ERG activities.