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How to use events to engage practitioners

Does your journal have a strong practitioner focus? Could you do more to support and develop your authors, so that their research becomes a publishable manuscript?

David Shirley, Associate Editor of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Training and Director of the Manchester School of Theatre, spoke to us about how running events for practitioners has helped to generate new content for his journal.


Published research in fields which are practitioner-led, such as the conservatoire sector, is not as prevalent as it could be. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • High teaching loads (up to 30 hours per week)
  • The difficulty of balancing academic research with professional practice
  • Potential authors think of themselves as practitioners rather than academics

To promote practitioner engagement with academic publishing, we hosted two events called ‘Practice, Reflect, Share’. These events offered a space for practitioners to explore opportunities and develop their future research projects.

Designing a program to suit your audience

To make the most of an event, design the day around the needs of your target audience. We wanted to reach out practitioners, so our 2018 program featured practical workshops and discussions aimed at this group. The sessions were designed to bridge the gap between practitioners and academics, and encourage more engagement with scholarly publishing.

We ran sessions on:

  • How to write effective proposals and abstracts
  • Exploring different approaches to the writing process
  • Working with visual images (photographs, sketches and diagrams etc.)
  • Professional practice and academic approaches
  • An in-depth guide to peer review, including strategies for responding to feedback

What were the results?

“Many thanks to all the organizers for this day—it has been particularly useful for me at this stage of my work.” – 2018 delegate

“It was a very useful day for me, really helped to focus my thinking” – 2018 delegate

These events were well attended and received excellent feedback from delegates. The 2017 ‘Practice, Reflect, Share’ has helped to develop three journal articles. From the 2018 event, we have received one initial proposal, and we’re expecting more shortly. We are now planning another event in 2019, on the theme of ‘Practice as Research’.

Some final words of wisdom

  • Use your networks
    Identify relevant schools or courses, target specific people to invite, then reach out to them.
  • Preparation is key
    Plan your event 6 months in advance, and start promoting it 4 months in advance. To boost attendance, schedule your event on a Saturday, and finish up by 4pm.
  • Follow up with your delegates
    Use the event to establish a database of contacts you could reach out to for peer review or commissioning content. We followed up with some attendees about mentoring opportunities and ongoing support.

Find out more about content development with our introduction to developing high impact content.

June 7, 2018

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