On Thursday I am going to be presenting about the use of social media as an academic at the Open University. I really enjoy discussing my experiences of using social media in my work. It has become an incredibly useful tool for me in many ways. It has enabled me to share my research experiences, to discuss my developing skills, to develop extensive networks with researchers across the globe and to develop my writing skills, among many other things. There are of course many different platforms that academics can use but I tend to use my blog, I write for other blogs (such as PhD2Published and the blog for the new research project I am working on ‘Beyond Male Role Models‘) and I use Twitter as regularly as possible to ensure that my research, and my research skills are visible and accessible to a broader audience. 

In preparing for my talk I was kindly directed to Deborah Lupton’s blog This Sociological Life. In my opinion, this is an excellent example of academic blogging at its best. Deborah, a sociologist at the University of Canberra, Australia, is very candid about why she uses social media and how it helps her in her academic career. Her site features a number of posts ranging from reflection on why she blogs, to comments on news topics of interest, to book reviews. These posts provide really interesting insight into the way in which she operates as a sociologist. For her, blogging means she is contributing to a gift economy in which knowledge is a social good rather than a marketable commodity (see her blog post here on research about social media use by academics).

There are risks associated with using social media as an academic of course but so far, these have been very minimal for me and I think that the positives outweigh the  negatives. I would therefore strongly encourage academics of any career stage to develop their presence and contribute to this emerging gift economy.

There is a lot to learn about social media on Deborah’s site. I highly recommend you take a look!   

I have recently been asked to write a book review for Gender, Place and Culture. I am currently on the Editorial Board of this journal. I have written two book reviews before and consider them a useful way to a) get a publication, b) to establish my interests and expertise as a researcher and c) to learn more about emerging research in my fields of interest. There is of course the perk of getting a free copy of the book! The book I am reviewing at the moment is ‘Men, Masculinities and Methodologies‘ by Barbara Pini and Bob Pease. I am really pleased to have the opportunity to review this book because of my own interests in the power relations that occur in researching men as a woman (something I have reflected on in an article that has recently been accepted for publication here* in The Professional Geographer).

I have been given some instructions by the journal about how to write the review and what information it should include, but I have also come across this useful resource by Wendy Belcher, which outlines how to do an effective review (access it here). This recommends that the review should take about a month to complete, which is exactly how long I now have to write it.

To add to the points made in this resource, I think it is important to state who the book is relevant to i.e. students and/or researchers or both, and to what discipline(s). While this book is not directly targeted at a geography audience it is certainly relevant to geographers who conduct research in relation to men and masculinities, so this is a key point that I will make in the review. The process of active reading is also mentioned. For me, this will involve reading through the chapter, picking out key points, using pen and paper as Belcher suggests to make note of the key points and then constructing an annotated bibliography of each chapter. This is a handy resource for constructing the review and also for later reference should I need to refer to the chapters.

I best get on with it! Keep an eye on the blog for news of when it will be published!

* If you would like a copy of this article please get in touch.

pixel blogOver on the Beyond Male Role Models website, the blog for the research project I am involved in at the Open University, is a blog post I have written about the Celebrity Male Role Models Pixel Campaign. This is a campaign seeking to end violence against women by giving men a voice and encouraging men to reflect on the qualities they admire in other men. You can read the full blog post here.

In the post, I reflect critically on the ways in which the male role model discourse is considered part of the solution to ending violence against women and the poor outcomes of vulnerable young men. I reflect on the idea that gender is in fact not all that relevant, rather the qualities of respect, honesty and understanding are what people value in others.

I hope you enjoy the post.

Organisers: Anna Tarrant (Open University, UK), Emily Cooper (Lancaster University, UK) and Canny Liu (Royal Holloway, UK)
Sponsored by GFGRG (Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group)

Feminist geographers have identified intergenerational relations as a crucial research agenda and area of policy concern (Holloway and Pimlott-Wilson 2011; Vanderbeck 2007) and are now seeking to centre family as a unit of geographical analysis (Valentine 2008). The family has hence been re-defined as both a ‘spatial project’ (Luzia 2012) and ‘a locale for collective activity arranged over spatial and temporal configurations’ (Holdsworth, 2013, p.13). It is therefore a rich and significant research space in which to consider the spatio-temporalities and coproduction of identities, relations, norms and practices. Whilst parenting is clearly a central inter-generational relation, family life is not reducible to it. Existing research has shown, for example, how family caring work is being done through grand-parenting in global contexts such as Africa (Evans 2010), the UK (Tarrant 2010) and China (Jiang et al 2007).  Such work raises questions about the impacts on inter-generational family life of dynamics from population changes, employment dynamics, ageing populations, domestic space provision, and new forms of consumer culture. Furthermore, interdisciplinary theorising about family represents an opportunity to reimagine concepts of relevance to geographers through the lens of intergenerational relations. Of particular significance for example are: distance/proximity, belonging, inclusion/exclusion, social inequalities, citizenship, othering and mobility. 

We invite papers focusing on a range of global contexts which have a theoretical, empirical and/or methodological focus. Papers with a commitment to feminist methods, theories and praxis are particularly welcomed. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

- The material culture of family and family life,
- How family life is ‘done’/’undone’, ‘made’ and ‘unmade’, through intergenerational relations,
- Transformations to practices of intimacy, in diverse contexts, and the forces shaping them,
- Families and intimate mobilities
- Reflection on the discourses, policies and spatial practices that construct family identities,
- How dominant ideologies of family operate to constrain or control particular groups,
- Experiences of extended and non-normative families (i.e. (great)grandparents, transnational families, same-sex headed families) 
- The production and socio-spatial deployment of familial norms and orders
- The interiority of intimate family life in a global context
- Innovation in methodologies for researching the spaces of family and intimate relations
- How notions of distance and proximity are reconfigured in the context of   changing intimate relations

Please send an abstract of 250 words with full contact details by Friday, 31st January 2014 to Anna Tarrant (anna.tarrant[at]open.ac.uk), Emily Cooper (e.cooper2[at]lancs.ac.uk) or Canny Liu (chen.liu.2012[at]live.rhul.ac.uk)

I have several #acwrimo tasks on the go at the moment but my main focus today is writing a proposal for an academic conference. I have done this once before but it was a long time ago, so I have been looking for useful resources to help me put this proposal together. On the RGS-IBG website (or the Royal Geographical Society’s website) there is a really useful set of resources that explain how to propose a variety of different types of organised sessions including Paper Sessions, Panel Sessions, Split Sessions. World Cafes, Speed Dating (or collaborative match-making) sessions and Roundtable sessions (so many!). These can be viewed here.

The format for the session I want to propose is the Paper Session. This should include four to five papers each of approximately 15 minutes in length, followed by five minutes of questions. This allows academics to present on their area of interest, as it relates to the focus of the session and to discuss their work with other interested colleagues. This particular session will use an open call approach whereby people submit abstracts as expressions of interest having viewed the call for papers. This requires a clearly focused session proposal that outlines clearly what the session organisers are looking for. 

Looking at past examples of proposals and CfP’s that have been sent to me via Email has been a useful exercise in thinking about how to structure the proposal and how to decide what elements are important to include. Looking at past calls for papers, the following structure appears to be commonly used and useful for putting together a session proposal:

Title – This needs to be pithy and focused

Session Organisers - List who is chairing and organising the session

Position the session within existing debates/identify the gap - Explain why this session is needed now and explain what debates you are contributing to or expecting to move forward. What gap in knowledge are you contributing to?

Identify the focus of the session – Outline the general topic you want to attract papers about. This should be focused enough to ensure that you attract relevant papers, but broad enough to capture an interesting range of papers.

Explain more specifically what you want the session to explore – You are proposing the session because you want to move an agenda or debate forward. Therefore you should hopefully have some idea of what kinds of topics and papers you want to include. Being more specific about what you want the papers to explore provides useful guidance for people who want to propose a paper.

Use bullet points to list and suggest topics of interest – Again, these act as a signpost to potential contributors about what topics you are interested in focusing on. If you want to attract papers that focus on methodological, theoretical and empirical aspects, make this point clearly.

If necessary, refer to the broader focus of the conference or research theme - If the conference overall has a specific theme or focus overall, then ideally the papers that are included should respond to this as well. 

Provide contact details and abstract submission requirements - The practical bit – people need to know where to submit their papers to and what format their submission needs to be in.

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