For most academics, especially PhD students and early career researchers (ECRs), conferences are a unique way to meet new people and start building a career. During the 9th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise, we give doctoral students and ECRs an opportunity to connect with peers, senior scholars, practitioners and policy-makers — all in one place.
At EMES Network, we are committed to empowering the next generation of SE scholars. So, this year we went one step further, building on the suggestion from our own EMES PhD network! We invited EMES PhD/ECRs to get actively involved in a real-life situation related to the organization of an international conference organization, namely to learn how to assess abstracts submitted to authors from all over the world. This is a great capacity to develop in their careers and one that can be best learned through a hands-on approach or learning by doing.
Therefore, a call was put out to all EMES PhD members in the last stages of their doctoral path and ERCs to join the #9EMESconf Doctoral Committee. As a result, 14 EMES members, combining PhD students and ECRs, joined and began working together. Different groups were formed and paired with volunteer mentors stemming from the Scientific Committee of the conference who had already been assigned several abstracts to review. The evaluation criteria from the conference as well as the review and selection process were explained to Doctoral Committee members, and they organised themselves to stimulate exchange and to discuss with their peers and mentors about the abstracts assigned. In the process, they had to meet with their appointed senior scholars to share their assessment and discuss the evaluation, with the final decision staying the responsibility of the Scientific Committee member.
This learning process supported by the EMES Network has been launched for the first time and we hope that it will meaningfully support PhD students and ECRs in their professional and personal development. Developing a strong PhD community based on mutual learning is a priority for our Network. Events like #9EMESconf allow us to bring our community together and share the highs and lows of researching and developing ideas.
Once this innovative process is over, an evaluation of the process will be conducted as a way to understand the reach of the initiative and learn how to improve it.