What Successful Grants Say About Including Emerging Scholars in Events
The Asian Studies Association of Australia offers a range of small grants and prizes every year. One of the benefits of membership is being able to access these opportunities. However, access does not always translate into receiving a grant. In this short article, I wish to feedback some of the insights gained during assessing applications for the Association’s 2021 Events Grant—small grants of up to $2500 to host events that promote the study of Asia and build community. In 2021, grants were only offered for online events.
Along with three other colleagues—Assoc Proc Carol Hayes (ANU), Dr Nisha Thapliya (Newcastle) and Dr Yu Tao (UWA)— I assessed a range of applications for the grant. Admittedly, the selection criteria for the grant were broad. In our final assessment, the successful grants were those that stood out in truly considering how emerging scholars, including postgraduate and early career researchers (ECRs), could be supported by the proposed event.
During committee deliberations, we discussed at length how different applications proposed to support these scholars and help advance their careers in a time when conference travel is extremely limited. Pivoting to online events has been a necessity of the current times, but how can the ASAA continue foster networks that incorporate emerging researchers in the online space?
We encountered several ideas in the successful grants that we thought worth sharing with the broader ASAA community. These ideas range from extremely simple and straight-forward to complex. We would like to highlight a range of them so future applicants and/or event organisers can take them into consideration when planning their next online event or in their next ASAA Event Grant submission:
- Consider making participation free for students and ECRs so cost is not a barrier to participation
- Include ECRs on the organising committee, giving them an opportunity to build their professional networks and conference organising skills. Make sure, where appropriate, they are included as convenors
- Consult with ECRs about what they would like included in the event
- Think about how your event will help ECRs form connections with new contacts. Co-hosting events with international organisations or another university may help ECRs to reach audiences that they haven’t previously been able to—especially with ongoing travel restrictions
- Include people from a range of academic levels, giving ECRs an opportunity to build community with peers as well with those who can give research or career advice based on experience
- Also consider including participants from outside academia, including alumni and industry, who can help ECRs form links outside of academia
- Be aware that “Zoom fatigue” is real! Mix things up with a range of different sessions and make sure you create opportunities for ECRs to talk to each other and to other participants.
- Incorporate a mentoring element to your event. This may be small group feedback from senior colleagues in response to a written piece or a presentation. Or it could be one-on-one mentoring for participants who are asked to submit their work prior to the event and
- Plan for a concrete scholarly outcome from your event, keeping in mind how important publication track record is for research students and ECRs once they enter the job market
These ideas reflect ASAA’s own commitment to supporting ECRs in a range of ways that allow them to develop the skills and outputs they need to build their researcher profile, and importantly, they are responsive to the very different context ECRs are emerging into. We hope members applying for grants in future rounds will also benefit from these insights and build support for ECRs into their proposals.