Salford Celebrates Ten Years of SPARC!

By Jun.17, 2010

The annual SPARC postgraduate research conference celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, marking the occasion with its largest ever attendance.

The conference has always been an excellent opportunity for dialogue between postgraduates from North West institutions, and this year the remit was expanded nationally. There were over 160 delegates, and alongside presenters from the Universities of Chester, Bolton, Cumbria, Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores, Salford welcomed researchers from the Universities of Reading, Bristol, Exeter, Canterbury Christ Church and the Open University.

The conference offered a full and very varied programme over the two days (10 – 11 June). There were a number of parallel sessions of paper presentations. Several of these sessions reflected the Salford’s six strategic themes while others promoted strengths in international business, literature, translation, e-learning, and digital applications in banking and education. You can view the full programme and the abstracts for all the papers on the Salford Postgraduate Research website.


Keynote speakers Professor Ghassan Aouad and Professor Paul Haywood offered two very different perspectives on research in action. Prof Aouad (Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation) opened the conference with a valuable discussion of best practice for those currently going through the PhD process, based on his own experience of research and supervision, and that of several other researchers in the Built Environment (slides available here). Paul Haywood’s pre-dinner evening talk provided an engaging example of taking research outside of the university. Paul encouraged audiences to think about the meanings of community identity and the relationship between practice and research, drawing on his ongoing community engagement through art which has been recognised with an AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship. For more details see the Wearpeace blog.

New Sessions

This year for the first time the poster session was voted for by the conference delegates, based on a session in which presenters gave a 60 second ‘pitch’ against the clock before talking to the delegates in more detail (see pictures). The posters were drawn from a really wide range of disciplines, from music and biology through to health and life sciences. The overall winner was Sally Bull from the Open University, whose poster can be found here and second prize went to Nick Breems from Salford for his poster on computers and procrastination.

SPARC Poster Session.Photos by Ben Halligan

SPARC Poster Session.Photos by Ben Halligan

Another programme innovation this year was a ‘speed presentation’ session, where researchers had the challenge of condensing their main research ideas and questions into a 5 minute pitch. SPARC also offered a range of workshops about research practices – some led by staff in health and others by PhD students from Business and the Built Environment. On the Friday afternoon, a panel of recent PhD graduates from the Universities of Salford and Liverpool led an insightful and motivating discussion about completing a doctorate and balancing it with demands of employment and family.


The conference also offered lots of opportunities for networking and socialising.  This was kicked off with a very successful event organised by the Students Union the night before the conference. This wine, food and quiz evening in Bar Yours was really well attended by conference delegates and other postgraduates across the university. The SPARC conference social on the Thursday evening was at Old Trafford, and (as Cristina mentioned in her previous post) even the less football-inclined fans amongst us were impressed with the opportunity to see behind the scenes at this iconic Manchester sight. Just don’t attempt to try on the players’ clothes (as some of our group did…..). Take a look at the photos from the event for the full story!


So, a BIG thanks to all those who participated last week and helped to make the conference such a success. Whether it was through sharing your research in presentations, supporting your peers/students as an audience member, or helping out as a chair or volunteer, we are very grateful for your involvement and enthusiasm, all of which helped to generate such a good atmosphere.

Further Details

If you have any comments about the conference or suggestions for next year’s event, please fill in our online feedback form.

There are photos available on Flickr, and you can go to Slideshare to view some of the presentations from the conference.

As with the SPARC 09 proceedings, conference presenters can submit a paper for consideration for this year’s conference publication, which will be made available online as well as on a print-on-demand basis. Full details about submission are available on the website.

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