“Having or showing no skill; clumsy.”
The theme of ‘Showcase’ for this Opus magazine edition took me a little by surprise and I found myself swimming in uncertainty at whether I would have anything to even contribute to this theme. With the theme described as ‘a chance to really showcase creative works’ I felt awfully out of place. As a STEM girly, creativity is not something I have ever considered myself to be or to be good at; my Big Five Personality scores would tend to agree.
For people with traditional creative skills, their outputs really lend themselves to the idea of a showcase: Artists with their pieces at art exhibitions, musicians playing to sold out crowds, writers publishing fantastic works of fiction. These are such tangible measures of creativity. However, Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences includes broader areas than those within the traditional creative realms. So how can us less creative folk showcase our successes, and display our different intelligences? As someone who fits into more traditional ‘textbook’ intelligence, getting people engaged in my work outputs is much more difficult and typically a lot less inviting! Nevertheless, I’ve included just some of the ways I am learning to showcase my work and my successes:
- Paper publication
The most traditional and common avenue to showcase my work as a PhD student is through paper publications! This is the most typical and concrete way to tell the world what research you have been doing and what you found.
However, this is admittedly an option with many barriers and is certainly not the best way to captivate broad audiences. They are slow; papers can take years from formation to publication. They are not always accessible; journal articles can cost a lot of money to publish, and sometimes they’re not in the most reader friendly format. Regardless, it is a great way to showcase your work to the wider research community.
Also quite a traditional method of showcase in the research world, is oral presentations. These can come in many forms, lengths, styles, and occur at various types of events but often have more flexibility for engagement than paper publication.
Conference presentations are a great way to present your findings to the research and consumer community however, these often follow a rigid format and can remain quite complex. Other presentations include the 3 Minutes Thesis (3MT) competition, or things like the ‘Visualise Your Thesis (VYT) competitions which are much less stringent, allow some levels of creativity, and typically have more focus around communicating to the general public.
Posters are akin to presentations and often occur in similar settings however, posters are, well just that! A poster. There is no need for a speech or detailed slides. Just a poster that summarises your research. These do allow for a little more creativity, but they often do still follow quite strict formatting requirements and as such, can often lack the spark of intrigue for most people.
Regardless, they are often much more digestible. Posters can be found at conferences, but you may also see them around campus and in other venues too.
- Social Media
Moving into more non-traditional showcase options, we have social media. I have found this to be a great avenue for me to share what I am up to with my research and work more broadly and to keep track of my progress over the years. I have professional accounts on Twitter (X?), Instagram, TikTok and of course LinkedIn.
I have been able to share a variety of aspects of my professional life, including training, awards, milestones, teaching, and events.
There are photography, art, sculpture, music and many more creative based competitions which are fantastic. Thankfully, there are also competitions that play to other strengths! As mentioned previously, the 3MT and VYT competitions are some of the ones run at UoN for PhD students. There are others to stumble across including essay writing competitions, ThinkTanks, debating – the list goes on.
Last but certainly not least is Opus. This has been such a great outlet for me to just write, reflect and think on my role as a student and academic. It has provided me a place to write about my experiences and contribute to Opus with non-traditional works that don’t have a creative component. The variety of submissions that Opus publishes, is a testament to the value of this platform as a showcase for talents including, and beyond, traditional creativity.
Hello! My name is Tegan and I joined the Opus team in 2021 as an outlet to escape my PhD writing. I am yet to find my niche category, but you can probably expect pieces about postgraduate life, creativity, psychology, literature and all things cute and fuzzy. Outside of Opus and my PhD, I am also a peer mentor, team leader, tutor, and sessional academic (so you might just see me in class sometime!).