Impressions of the EMCR Forum 2018

By Anja Čuš
Monday, 11th June 2018
Filed under: ESRBlog

Last week, I attended the 3rd Suicide and Self-harm Early and Mid-Career Researchers‘ (EMCR) Forum in Glasgow, organized by Dr. Rory O’Connor and the Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab. There, I presented a poster of my ongoing study which aims to explore how technology could support young people who self-harm. While the study site is in Vienna, at my host institution, I now temporarily live in London to do a secondment at the Anna Freud Centre.

My journey started on Wednesday, by picking up the poster in London and heading for a five-hour train-ride to Glasgow. The ride was pleasant, and the scenery of endless green fields full of sheep and cows provided a striking contrast to a busy London everyday life. 

On Thursday, the conference officially started. The main aim was to discuss our research, network with like-minded professionals and learn about the recent developments in the field. Many established researchers gave insightful talks. Dr. Lisa Marzano shared her experience in using qualitative and technology-assisted methods to study suicide and self-harm. Next, a Senior Editor of The Lancet journal, Dr. Niall Boyce, shared his views on future directions in suicidology research and emphasised the importance of asking the right research questions over striving for novel and significant findings that may lead to publication bias.

Similarly, the expert panel session reflected the state and complexity of the research on suicide and self-harm. For example, some established methods, such as randomized control trials, are not well suited for measuring outcomes in suicide prevention. Therefore, it is necessary to find new ways to assess impact of these interventions. Further topics included research transparency and replicability and great importance was put on ethical considerations in suicide research.

Additionally, I saw great value in attending the mid-career researchers’ talks, reflecting on their career paths and research in general. For instance, Dr. Ian Hussey shared his passion about Open Science and described how we all can benefit from it. I very much share this opinion and am happy that the project I work on follows the EU initiative to make science open for everyone, for example, by facilitating Open Access publications and Open Data. Dr. Knipe’s talk was encouraging as well as she spoke about ups and downs in her research career very bluntly and with a welcome dose of humour.

As mentioned above, the TEAM project I work on explores the use of technology to improve self-harm in young people. Thus, I was happy to hear that technology-related talks found their way to the conference as well. This included Dr. Wauter talking about using mobile technology to monitor suicide risk in patients and Eva De Jaegere, MSc, describing the development of a serious game to improve the health of adolescents at the Ghent University.

Looking backwards, I found the conference very thought stimulating, and I appreciated meeting professionals from other countries and sharing experiences with them.

Besides the conference, I was happy to explore Glasgow before returning to London. I visited the botanical garden, Kelvingrove Park and went for a walk along the river Kelvin. While I had hoped to see more of Glasgow, my tight time-schedule did not allow for that. However, I will return to Glasgow in two weeks for a summer school and hope to see more of the city with my fellow TEAM researchers.

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