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ECR Symposium Series 2024: Being a creative researcher: creative thinking, decision making and problem solving in research

Who is it for?
The ECR Network’s symposia series is targeted at early career researchers (ECRs) – be they current Masters or Doctoral students or those in the early post-doctoral phase. It’s suitable for any ECR seeking to present their research and to network with their peers.

What can you expect?
ECRs attending symposia typically present for 10-15 minutes and subsequently have time after for discussion around their presentations, and their research more broadly. The audience is made up of their ECR peers as well as 1-2 experienced academic discussants. The sessions is hosted by one of the current ECR Regional Representatives. Presenters are encouraged to highlight key points for consideration to guide the discussion and are able to receive constructive feedback around these. This is an informal safe, but ‘critical’ space to receive feedback from both peers and experienced academics.

Why should you attend?
The ECR Network’s symposia series seeks to provide ECRs with an opportunity to present their research in a supportive environment, gaining valuable experience that will stand them in good stead for attending and presenting at conferences. The symposia enable ECRs to practice their presentation skills, engage in discussion about their research and to receive feedback to help them move forwards with their work, as well as providing the opportunity to network with their peers. 

In the ever-evolving landscape of educational research, innovation and creativity are key drivers of progress. Educational researchers employ creative approaches that not only address complex educational issues but also inspire meaningful change. This symposium theme emphasises the value of thinking outside the box, taking calculated risks, and pushing boundaries in educational research endeavours. This year, we celebrate and promote creative thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving in every stage of educational research including design, implementation, analysis, writing up, and dissemination.

Below are some potential topics but this is not intended to be an exhaustive list:

  1. Innovative Methodologies: Share your research projects that employ innovative and non-traditional methodologies to address educational challenges.
  2. Creative Problem Solving: Present your work on how creative problem-solving has led to insights or solutions in the field of education.
  3. Interdisciplinary Approaches: Explore how interdisciplinary collaboration has fostered creative research and enriched educational scholarship.
  4. Leveraging Technology: Discuss how technology and digital tools can be harnessed creatively to enhance educational research and practices.
  5. Engaging Stakeholders: Share experiences where involving various stakeholders (students, educators, policymakers) in the research process has fueled creativity and contributed to impactful outcomes.
  6. Artistic and Aesthetic Perspectives: Examine the role of artistic and aesthetic elements in educational research, and how they can inspire innovative insights.
  7. Cross-Cultural Research: Highlight research that transcends cultural boundaries, promoting creative cross-cultural perspectives in education.
  8. Translational Research: Showcase research that effectively translates creative ideas into practical applications, benefitting educational settings.
  9. Ethical Considerations: Explore how creativity in research aligns with ethical principles and safeguards against unintended consequences.
  10. Challenges and Future Prospects: Share your thoughts on the challenges faced by young researchers in adopting creative approaches and offer insights into the future prospects of creative research in education.


Profile picture of Nicola Marlow
Nicola Marlow, Dr

Lecturer in Education at Ulster University

Nicola is the regional rep for Northern Ireland. Nicola is a lecturer in Education and course director of the PGCE English with Drama and Media Studies programme at Ulster University. Her research interests include writing pedagogy and how...

Profile picture of Paul McFlynn
Paul McFlynn, Dr

Lecturer in Education at Ulster University

Paul is a lecturer in Education at Ulster University. He is course director for the PGCE in Physical Education (PE). His research to date has concentrated on the role of critical reflection in initial teacher education and on the role of...

Profile picture of Shauna McGill
Shauna McGill, Dr

Lecturer of education at Ulster University

Dr Shauna McGill Ulster University Course Director PGCE Primary @semcgilluucpgce