Dan Croft ~
On 12th April 2019 Oxford Brookes held its Get Published! student research conference. This poster conference has been running for several years now and typically features undergraduate and taught-postgraduate students presenting posters that summarise the original research findings of their dissertations or other assignments.
It is always a fantastic event with a real buzz as the conference attendees wander around the posters talking to enthused, articulate, and inspiring student presenters about the research they have been conducting.
Below are three research topics that grabbed my attention. Along with my impressions of the research projects are links to the actual posters – these are freely available (like all the posters from this and previous years of the Get Published! conference) from Oxford Brookes’ institutional repository RADAR.
When they look at her: How can the mobilisation of women in political violence be understood, with reference to terrorism?
Poster by Evelkah Powell
This research really grabbed me with its analysis of how terrorism is gendered in the media. Evelkah described to me how typically female terrorists are assumed to have been ‘brain washed’ or coerced into action by male terrorists, an inherently sexist division of terrorists into active men and submissive women. Evelkah went on to argue that we should credit female terrorists with the same level of agency in making the decision to become a terrorist as we would a male terrorist. We spoke briefly about how this relates to Shamima Begum and how the voices unsympathetic to her situation tended to credit her with unqualified awareness and agency in all her actions whereas those sympathetic to her situation often portrayed her as a victim of ISIS radicalisation.
Link to the poster: https://doi.org/10.24384/e1m1-ey36
For the people, by the people: Rethinking the community participatory design process and if it can effectively lead to better Public spaces
Poster by Adonai Boamah-Nyamekye
Adonai talked me through significance but also the difficulty of involving communities in the design of public spaces. The significance is clear – public spaces are highly unlikely to cater for the needs of the local community unless that community participates in the design process. However the challenge is that communities have diverse needs that cannot all be simultaneously catered for, that consultations can be dominated by loud personalities, and that imagining and designing an effective public space needs professional knowledge and skills that are typically not available to the average member of the community.
This is a challenge I have much sympathy with as a librarian who has gone through similar participatory processes when consulting with library users about the development of library services. Adonai and I talked about how the people involved in participatory processes need professional guidance, though whereas I tended towards the approach of presenting various options for discussion Adonai argued that they should be involved at an earlier, more fundamental stage. I was left with the thought that with either approach it is a tricky balance to guide or inform a participatory process with professional knowledge and skills without accidentally directing it to the extent that the authentic views of the community and users are marginalised or lost. Who knew that urban design and librarianship had such commonalities!
Link to the poster: https://doi.org/10.24384/0zb6-hw65
The Mis-Advertisement of Wildlife Tourism: A Media Investigation into the Conservation Threats Facing Wildlife from Two-Shot Imagery Posted on Zoo Websites and Social Media
Poster by Jessica Rachael Stride
This research project focused on the effect that the proliferation of ‘two-shot’ photographs on social media and zoo websites (featuring a person and an animal together) has on animal welfare in wildlife tourism.
Jessica’s research led me to reflect on my own experiences with wildlife tourism, as I have photographs from my travels in the early 2000’s that feature me alongside exotic animals and I now regularly take my children to visit wildlife parks and other ‘animal attractions’. I can’t deny that in these situations I am seeking a personal connection with charismatic animals either for myself or my children. Previously I have happily accepted the argument that attractions catering for these personal connections with animals stimulates public support for the conservation of wildlife, but Jessica’s view is that some practices – and particularly the impression given online of people communing with animals – creates an unrealistic expectation of rapport and affinity with wild animals and encourages unethical wildlife tourism.
Jessica’s research gave me a new perspective on ‘animal attractions’ and an interesting lens through which to read this experience with wildlife tourism which was published only a week after the Get Published! conference – it is obviously a very live and relevant topic to be researching.
Link to the poster: https://doi.org/10.24384/3e6p-1z24
At the end of the conference prizes were awarded to a winner and two highly commended student researchers in both undergraduate and postgraduate categories. The fact that none of the research projects I talked about in this blog post won a conference award points to the high quality of the research presented at the conference.
For more information about the Get Published! project please visit
To browse all the posters in the Get Published! collection on RADAR please visit https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/s/getpublished