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Distinguished Research Fellowship – Day 2

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I have arrived at the University of Canberra to undertake my first of three visits as the Distinguished Faculty of Arts and Design Research Fellow. While Day 1 was a wonderful day of catching with friends and colleagues and eating some great food from around the way, the real work started on Tuesday, Day 2.

My day was split into two key sessions: a workshop in the morning that explored embedded industry research, and the second half of the day which was for HDR mentoring. I’m here to bring my research, meet people and think through potential collaborative research projects with colleagues. I’d like to thank all the wonderful people at the News and Media Research Centre for hosting me over the five days.

Embedded Industry Research

First off, I forgot how much I love travelling and talking with people in a face-to-face mode! I haven’t presented research anywhere in person for about two years, so I was very excited to talk with people in a room that didn’t rhyme with Zoom.

This first session was designed as a two and a half hour workshop for HDRs and beyond to explore the contexts and nuances of embedded research within industry. Drawing on my last ten years of embedded research at various industry partners from around the world, it was refreshing to re-visit how to do this sort of really important work. From how to approach industry with an offer, to co-designing research questions, and then how to integrate the appropriate methods, particularly in a post-lock down world, was refreshing for me.

What was more exciting was the discussion that emerged after the presentation. We had about an even split of colleagues who had done industry research (and this includes Linkage projects, consultancy work, commissioned research, and longer form research), and those that hadn’t. As we broke into smaller groups (not break out rooms), the conversation was focussed on the lived experience of researching with industry partners. It was excellent.

Some of the key topics that emerged included:

  • Often there are different languages and perspectives at play between academics and industry – intermediaries are always useful, to broker between the different stakeholders
  • We (academics) can become annoying? How do we ensure we remain relevant to the project from the industry perspective, too?
  • Often the experience was disappointing – a great word to use here, where some of the finding shave been ignored or not acted upon
  • There can be an anti-intellectual/academic culture – is it common with media organisations/journalists or more broadly than this?
  • Is there something about the authority of academics that might not gel with industry folk?
  • How could we know about their world/environment?
  • What is your character that you take in with you? I’m a journalist. I’m a content creator. ‘Interloper’ was used.
  • Suspicion seems to be the reaction from those being researched – why are they here?
  • ‘It’s all about trust’
  • The complications of trust
  • Pandemic and the loss of hanging out with our industry folk
  • Reflexivity – all data is skewed, “situation of data gathering’

If you are interested, you can access the slides from the day here:

The slides for the Embedded Industry Research workshop

The second half of the day was spent listening to HDRs talk about their projects and trying to guide them where I could. I very much look forward to connecting many of these amazing people with some fo the amazing humans from MECO – there are many cross over points that can be strengthened with a more national network of HDRs.

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