My experience at the ElPub 2019 Conference in Marseille, France
Guest blog post by Zainab Iddriss, graduate of UCL Qatar, class of 2019
At UCL Qatar, there are many opportunities provided to students to enhance their learning path and career prospects. I particularly enjoyed one of the greatest experiences I had during my studies in experiential learning by delivering my first ever poster at a conference in France – Marseille. I presented there collaborative research done jointly with Amirah Al-Sarraj on the topic Exploring Trends in Open Access Repositories – The case of higher education institutions in Nigeria, Ghana, Cabo Verde, and Senegal. This mini-study was not an assignment but more an experiment to apply the skills and knowledge from our Masters’ programme to understand better how Western African countries compare in their progress towards green Open Access.
Although I am aware of some benefits of participating in conferences, such as international exposure, the chance to listen to different points of views, sharpening intellectual capacity, opportunity to learn new ideas of fields of interest, my experience with ElPub Conference exceeded any expectations. Discovering new types of data, equipment and methods used for research, identifying avenues to expand the study, as well as some of the challenges in the research, library or publication fields, are all among the gains I didn’t expect.
It was exciting to have the privilege of great networking and interacting one on one with well-known researchers and Open Access leaders such as Leslie Chan, Rupert Gatti, Elena Giglia, Pierre Mounier, and Vanessa Proudman – this list can be continued with the excellent invited speakers and other participants. Attending this conference refined my ideas and opened avenues for knowledge on current research and discoveries, it also enhanced my interpersonal skills and has upgraded my presentation and communication skills. Other benefits were the chance of making new friends, both old and new members of Open Access globally – from France, Kenya, US, Australia, while having fun.
Our work was well-received, with great feedback both during and after the conference which enabled enhancements and inspirations for further research on the topic. I felt particularly important that I could voice some of the concerns around digital divide coming from Africa – while our countries should enjoy the same access to information as our peers around the world, it is interesting to observe that such big conferences are dominated by participants from Europe and North America.
I cannot express my gratitude enough to University College London Qatar (UCL Qatar), especially Dr Milena who has always believed in her students. The support, encouragement and enthusiasm presented to us have made us strive even beyond the level of our thought, expectations and capabilities of becoming successful, efficient and effective both in our personal lives and academically. Going through the stages of the research lifecycle from surveying the literature, collecting and analysing data and sharing the outcomes to receiving helpful feedback which will help to expand our research was very useful and inspirational.
I hope to meet some of these inspirational professionals and academics again at ElPub 2020 in Doha!