Moving your research community to the next level (Jade Sleeman)

School of Education Research Society (SOERS) members at the inaugural conference
Photo courtesy of Jade Sleeman
Hooray for #SOERS15! For those of you who don’t know what SOERS is, read on.

Hooray for the Intellectual Climate Fund for graduate researchers! For those of you who don’t know what the Intellectual Climate Fund is, you don’t know what you’re missing out on!

The School of Education Research Society (SOERS) is a group of research candidates dedicated to encouraging networking, peer assistance, methodological discussion, and enhancement of skills and knowledge for those researching in the field of Education.

Or, in other words, a group of graduate researchers who want to make the journey through their research degree more productive and rewarding, and by making social connections - more enjoyable!

Our group was established in 2013 to promote all things academic for Education researchers, such as grant opportunities, conferences, and networking. These scholarly discussions happen at our monthly meetings, which take place in a conducive social and intellectual climate - The Eagle Bar!
The Intellectual Climate Fund, supported by the Graduate Research School and the Colleges of ASSC and SHE, was established this year to encourage graduate researchers to contribute to the enhancement of the local research climate in their relevant Schools and Colleges through academic, social, and cultural activities. In other words, these grants contribute to graduate researchers becoming proactive in creating opportunities to engage with peers in ways that allow their intellectual capacity to not just grow, but thrive!

SOERS was lucky enough to receive an Intellectual Climate Fund grant, which was used to support the organisation of our inaugural conference on 31 October. This event provided an opportunity for graduate research candidates in the School of Education to showcase their current projects, receive feedback on their work and engage in discussion about educational research. There was also time for stimulating conversation over a yummy morning tea and lunch!

The day began with an opening address by Dorothy Smith, Senior Lecturer and School Graduate Research Coordinator in the School of Education, on the benefits of presenting at student conferences. She discussed things such as talking about your research, making social connections and contributing to socially robust knowledge.

This was followed by a range of presentations in educational research by graduate researchers, with topics covering a range of issues of both Australian and international significance. The event also had a social media presence with the conference livetweeted on the SOERS Twitter and Facebook pages using the #SOERS15 hashtag. The Storify recap of the day is now available for those that want to re-live the experience.

We received really positive feedback from conference participants, with comments focused on the benefit of having an opportunity to present research in a collegial atmosphere. The other advantage noted by participants was being able to hear about the diversity of research studies taking place, and learn about the personal journeys that each project involved.

The organisation of this first SOERS conference has been rewarding not only for all the members of the committee, but also for the candidates (and staff) who participated. I’ve banged on about the importance of developing community in your academic life before, but being part of organising the SOERS conference has highlighted how getting involved in an event like this can really amp up academic engagement to another level.

And, next year, we’ll be back, bigger, better and more intellectually stimulating than before!

So, my call to action to you is to get involved in your local graduate research candidate group, club, or society, and take your enthusiasm out into your area to enhance the intellectual climate, while also developing your own. As Milton Berle said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”


Jade Sleeman is a teacher and PhD candidate looking at the use of social media in higher education. 

She can be found on Twitter @academiadiva, and blogs at

Jade is also a member of the School of Education Research Society (SOERS), and maintains their Twitter account: @LTUSOERS and Facebook page.