I spent last week in Zadar, Croatia for the ISIC: The Information Behaviour Conference. It was my first time travelling internationally for a conference – and my first time in Croatia – but my second time attending an ISIC conference.

The pre-conference doctoral workshop was a great experience and left me feeling a bit more confident about my theoretical framework. Well, maybe a better way to say that is that the advice helped me to feel more confident about how to explain my theoretical framework for my thesis write-up, anchoring it firmly within information science. I think that knowing the overall concept made sense to established academics in the field helped to build that confidence, too!

In addition to the feedback and advice I received directly related to my own research, the workshop mentors shared some great general advice for the entire group. The advice wasn’t unique, as I’d heard it all before in different contexts and with slightly different wording. However, I am further inspired by them each time I hear them. A common theme to the mentors’ advice was a reminder that “you are not alone”. Despite a PhD being a lonely process on many levels, we have our supervisors and other academic mentors, as well as an entire community of other PhD students. And whilst we are all working on (and struggling with) our own research, we can share the common struggles and stresses. (Blah, blah, blah. Sorry. I have a love-hate relationship with motivational soundbites. I think it’s because I am equal parts hopeful and cynical. But I digress…)

The main conference was an opportunity for me to present a full paper on some of my early findings for Generation X. I was very pleased with the feedback I received on both the delivery and the content of my presentation – and the further feedback and interest in the paper as a whole. It was a bit of a challenging presentation because I was behind a lectern when I am generally more comfortable walking around a bit so that I can better point and indicate to the slides. However, my (healing, but still poorly) ankle meant that I was safer standing in one place where I was able to lean on the podium for support. I was a bit distracted by the discomfort, but I don’t think it hurt my delivery.

The conference provided me with great opportunities to listen to and network with other academics in my field. There were a few papers delivered at the conference that will be of great assistance to me when I re-visit my literature review this winter. I also made some great connections with established academics whom (I hope) I will be able to contact with questions as I start pulling everything together into one (hopefully!) cohesive PhD thesis.

And I can’t really share a post about ISIC without giving special thanks to the on-site volunteers and coordinators. I’ve always been grateful for those working behind the scenes (especially having been part of event planning teams in the past!) but this time, I am even more grateful than ever. I mean – wow! – what a great group of people! They were alerted ahead of time about my broken ankle, so the moment someone saw me hobbling towards the venue, I was greeted and whisked away to my own personal elevator. The volunteers were really good about making sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed. Yes, at times I felt that I didn’t need the assistance because I felt fine, but maybe I felt fine because I was being given the special treatment! So, thank you to all of the great student and staff volunteers; you are superstars!

Oh! And there was also a bit of time for some sightseeing whilst in Zadar. You can read more about that on posts from my personal blog, Just Frances: With love from Zadar, Zadar: A Catholic girl’s paradise, and Zadar: Everyday life for an everyday girl.

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