We are proud of our active community of early career and postgraduate researchers in the Social Policy Association. Early career colleagues are active participants in all SPA activities, including Opportunity Grants and Policy Groups, but we also run tailored activities and events to build and support this group of members.

Writing retreats

Picture of Sarah Brooks-Wilson
Sarah Brooks-Wilson

In 2020 we ran a survey inviting all members to shape the activities of the SPA’S offering for ECR/PGR community. Based on feedback, we facilitated monthly online writing retreats in 2021. The writing retreats are full day events where members are encouraged to work in an inclusive and supportive atmosphere with targets and goals alongside the opportunity to network and discuss topics with each other. New dates will be announced on Twitter, via SPA Online and by emails to members.

PGR Conference

Each year we also hold a dedicated event for PGRs as part of the Annual Conference. In 2021 we ran an online PGR conference. In the morning members had the opportunity to present amongst their peers and practice conference style presenting with question-and-answer sessions. The afternoon featured two panel discussions utilising the talents of the SPA community to discuss the transition to early career and then a session on publishing.

Excellence in Doctoral Research Award

As part of the SPA Awards, one PGR paper presented at the Annual Conference is selected for the Excellence in Doctoral Research Award. A list of previous winners can be seen here. Our 2021 winner was Susan Watson, of the University of York.

Susan says: “I was hugely honoured to be presented with the SPA Excellence in Doctoral Research award for 2021.  To share the platform (albeit virtual) with scholars and friends whose wo

James Stanyer

rk I have admired and been influenced by was definitely a memorable moment of my PhD journey.  Presenting my paper on the online abuse of women in public life at last year’s conference was my first experience of presenting at an academic conference, and the questions and supportive feedback I received then were hugely helpful in developing my research this year.

To any current doctoral students who are contemplating presenting their research at the SPA Postgraduate event, but who may feel nervous about doing so, I would strongly recommend the experience.  It was a hugely supportive forum and built both my confidence and professional contacts.  It also gave me something to talk about in my successful interview for the position of Associate Lecturer over the summer, which was an unexpected bonus! 

I would like to thank the SPA once again for  this award.  It has made a huge difference to my self-confidence, and continues to assist me in seeing off the impostor syndrome when it occurs!”

Our future events are shaped and directed by our members. If you have an idea or would like to get more involved, please do get in touch with the Exec members holding the PGR and ECR portfolios. This is currently James Stanyer and Sarah Brooks-Wilson.