Richard Dunning and Joe Crawford reflect on this year's ECR event which kicked off the 2016 HSA conference.

The annual Housing Studies Association (HSA) conference in York began this year with a two hour funding workshop, which was run jointly by both the HSA and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).  This was an event designed to provide early career researchers (ECRs) with the opportunity to learn about the current landscape in respect of funding and grant applications.  The event, which attracted over 20 of the 30 participants from the conference’s ECR stream, began with presentations from two highly regarded researchers who had between them many years of experience and a great deal of success in obtaining funding for research.

John Flint from the University of Sheffield started the session with a 20 minute presentation which looked at the general funding landscape for ECRs in the UK, arguing that whilst competition was high there is a diverse offering of early career funding at present. This was followed by Kesia Reeve from Sheffield Hallam University, whose 20-minute presentation covered both how to write a successful funding application (working back from the final report, suggest variations to the specification and above all ‘be clear’ were three key recommendations) and promoted the value of contract research to ECR’s.  The presentations were finished off by Brian Robson from the JRF who gave the funder’s perspective, highlighting funder’s concern for the proposal’s fit with the brief, a sound methodology, careful thought on the research and policy landscape and an appropriate research team.  The session was then opened up, giving ECRs the opportunity to ask questions of the three presenters on the various aspects of the process.

Once the question section had concluded the first hour, part two began with an exercise which involved the participants reading one of two ‘actual’ bids in order to discern their strong points as well as the weaknesses of both.  One bid was a JRF application and the other was for the British Academy, two sources of funding which are accessible to ECRs. Discussing the bids in groups, participants were able to seek clarification from the three speakers on what they thought were each bids’ strengths and weaknesses. The session was wrapped up with a general discussion with input from both participants and the three presenters.

From the reactions and feedback of the participants, presenters and indeed organisers, it would be safe to say that this session was a roaring success.   It was with a deep sense of satisfaction that we joined the rest of the conference delegates for lunch before the opening plenary at 13.45 kicked off what was to be another brilliant annual HSA conference in York.

The HSA continues to support ECRs through conference bursaries and through the annual Valerie Karan prize. We would like to hear your ideas about how we could improve our support of ECRs. If you have any suggestions please email Richard Dunning ([email protected]) or Joe Crawford ([email protected]) with your idea.

The Housing Studies Association (HSA) is a limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 13958843 at 42 Wellington Road, Greenfield, OL3 7AQ.
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