Anniversary post: Conference Inference year three!

Today marks the start of our third year of editing Conference Inference Blog! In this post we reflect back on another year of blogging on conferences and cast our eyes toward the year ahead.


EH & JB Xmas tree (1)

We almost can’t believe it: Conference Inference is two years old! In order to celebrate this achievement we have dedicated our first post of the year to reflecting back on 2018, and we also look toward the possibilities that 2019 has in store.

In our anniversary blog last year we offered these reflections on the origins of the blog:

Fittingly, the beginnings of Conference Inference itself can be traced back to a conference. The editors (Emily Henderson and Jamie Burford) first met by email, planning for the 2014 Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) conference in Wales for a symposium titled Queering the academy. We then wrote up a ‘queer’ conference review on this symposium and an earlier event on queer theory in higher education. As our friendship developed we realised that we not only shared a mutual interest in queer theory, we were both hooked on conferences as an area of scholarship. We sent emails back and forth with snippets of conference representation. We saw conferences here and then there and then sort of everywhere. The emails reached a critical point. We decided we wanted to do something with all these ideas about conferences, and to have the chance to work together. We started this blog.

And in our first ever post we laid out the intentions of Conference Inference in a way that still rings true today. We stated that the goal of the blog was to recognise that conferences are a part of the fabric of academic life despite the limited attention they have tended to receive. We wanted to carve out a niche for more analytical and creative thinking around conferences that exceeded the ‘top tips’ style of blog post, which tend not to delve into the whys and wherefores of conference practices. And we marked that our blog would aim to join together highly dispersed conversations that occur internationally and across disciplinary boundaries.

By the numbers

Since the beginning of Conference Inference in January 2017, we have published 58 posts, of which 34 have been written by fantastic guest contributors. From 2017 to 2018 the blog had 32% more unique visitors and 36% more views. Our most popular post for the second year running was Sex and the Academic Conference. Other top posts were:

Most people found the blog through search engines, followed by Twitter and Facebook. And in case anyone is interested, Wednesday was the most popular day to read a post!

Personal and professional achievements

In 2018 we (Jamie and Emily) were both actively involved in conferences research. Emily wrapped up her In Two Places at Once project on conferences and care – the findings of which can be found here. She is currently working on publications related to this project. She also published a chapter called Feminist conference time: aiming (not) to have been there in an edited collection on Feeling academic in the neoliberal University.

Jamie continued his collaborative project undertaking a cultural history of the Academic Identities Conference, some findings of which were presented in  2018. He also transitioned to a new job as a Lecturer in Research Education at La Trobe University where he has started teaching about conferences!

Along with Cat Pause, we worked together on a  paper called Enlarging conference learning : at the crossroads of fat studies and conference pedagogies which was published in the journal of Fat Studies (we blogged about it  too). We also continued our work together for the upcoming Gender and Education special issue on conferences.

Both Jamie and Emily have found that this blog has opened countless invitations to speak about conferences – at conferences themselves, in workshops and seminars, and in conversations of all sorts!

Our goals for 2019

This year we have set ourselves some goals which are mostly about how we work and who we work with rather than how many people we reach (although that’s cool too!) The first goal we have is to try and encourage contributions from writers from parts of the world that have been underrepresented in conference commentary to date. We would love to have more writers from South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, North Asia and the Pacific. Equally, we are keen to offer opportunities for people in social groups who haven’t had as much visibility in commenting on conferences. For us, this is an ethical commitment to democratising knowledge about conferences. It is also an intellectual commitment – we know that the more we reach out, the more diverse perspectives we can learn from.

In 2018 we engaged a lot more with the community on our Facebook Page and both of us became more active on twitter (Follow Emily and Jamie) – as this is such a good way to reach out, follow what’s happening! We use the hashtag #ConferenceInference for blog-related posts. We plan to redouble our efforts in 2019!

Thank yous

Thank you to all of our fantastic guest writers for 2018. The blog would not be what it is without your diverse and fabulous contributions and we have really enjoyed the opportunity to think alongside each and every one of you. So a big thank you to: Valerie Hey, @fergusgeocat, Dai O’Brien, Ali Black, Nidhi Sabharwal, Genine Hook, Briony Lipton, Lilia Mantai, Tai Peseta, Sandra Acker, Mark Dunford, Nicholas Rowe, Metaxia Pavlakou & Helen Walkington, Maddie Breeze, Donald Nicholson, Daniel Luther, Gabriela Tonietto & Selin Malkoc. Thank you also to all our readers who had engaged with the posts and shared them with others. We really appreciate all your support and your fabulous writing.

We are also excited about some upcoming pieces we have in store! We have posts coming up on conference ambassadors, being a graduate researcher and organising a conference, bad presentations, graphic recording at conferences, the use of English at conferences, the joys and pains of question time, conference fashion and conference food…  As always, we welcome anyone who is interested in blogging for us to get in touch.

So once again, thanks for sharing all of these inferences about conferences. It’s been an exciting journey so far, and we are looking forward to all of the conferences and inferences ahead!  

EH & JB SRHE 2017 (1)

James Burford (@jiaburford) and Emily Henderson (@EmilyFrascatore) are the editors of Conference Inference.

Author: CI_Jamie

Academic at the University of Warwick. Interests: higher education, sexuality, gender, equity. PhD in Doctoral Education from Auckland University.

One thought on “Anniversary post: Conference Inference year three!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: