Brighton Conference Report

It’s been months since the conference, but Richard Shaw and Elizabeth Breeze have compiled an excellent report of the goings on and feedback from members and attendees.

You can also find a ‘storify’ piece collected by Peter Tennant with input from Martin White, Lynne Forrest, Mark Kelson (formerly Kelly) and others here. It’s a lovely ‘real-time’ recap of the Conference as it happened!

The Brighton Conference Report

A majority of the 231 people who were registered to attend this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) completed the conference’s online evaluation. This is greatly appreciated as this informs what we are doing right and what we can do better; if we have not captured your view then you have a chance to comment on the recent consultation document produced by the Task and Finish Group which has investigated how the ASM and other meetings should be organised.

Responders were favourably impressed by the presentations. Nearly all agreed that the standards of the presentation were good, and 92% felt that there were enough presentations that were relevant to their work.

Click to enlarge

SSM report figure 2013

The plenary sessions were received well with a clear majority of participants rating them 4 or 5 out of 5, and in particular the Pemberton lecture by Raj Bhopal was rated as good or excellent by over 90% of respondents.

Some aspects of the conference received a more mixed response.

The display of posters received some unfavourable reactions – it is a perennial challenge for organisers to find a suitable space close to other activities and often impossible to match the ideal criteria but we will keep trying. People appreciated having the conference dinner a short walk from the excellent accommodation, but would perhaps have appreciated a more traditional location.

The packed lunches to eat on the way home were well received, but some people were disappointed that there were not quite enough lunches to go round. Finally whilst the walks around Brighton were enjoyed some people were disappointed that they could not play Beach Volley ball.

SSM report picture

A number of ideas and innovations for the future were suggested. A key theme was looking at ways of enabling ECRs to interact with senior and honorary staff members. There was also interest in having greater involvement of research users, and some people would have liked the opportunity for debate or discussion sessions. Other ideas were that themes for parallel sessions could be pre-set and that potential contributors could then suggest which theme would be most appro- priate.

Overwhelmingly (88%) of responders worked in higher education, 9% worked for the NHS, with a smattering of other organisations including local government. The majority of people described themselves as being multidisciplinary, with 75% of respondents reporting epidemiology, 58% Public Health, 41% health services research, 38% medical statistics and 33% qualitative research. Other backgrounds included medical sociology, health economics, nutrition, clinical trials and genetics. Thirty eight percent of respondents had been a researcher for more than 10 years, and 22% less than four years. Finally whilst 17% of respondents had been a member for at least 10 years, many had been a member for less than 4 years (28%), and there were 41% of respondents who were not (yet) a member.

Thank you to everybody who completed the survey and provided suggestions they are invaluable for the society and future AGMS.

Richard Shaw and Elizabeth Breeze

Brighton Sunset

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Image: Nick Payne

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