Making research accessible (and fun)
Being a master’s or PhD candidate at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) means spending a lot of time researching and writing. It also means contending with presentations, conferences and more, which is why the Annual Graduate Research Exposition (AGRE) aims to open students to the social side of research.
“The main goal is to give our graduate students an opportunity to present their work to the broader community,” says Linda Dyer, co-organizer of the AGRE and professor and chair of the Department of Management at the JMSB. “If, as researchers, we want to get our research out, we need to do it in a way that people will find accessible and engaging.”
Each year, approximately 25 to 30 students participate in the exposition by presenting their posters and research in the atrium of the John Molson School of Business (MB) Building. The event began after Dyer and co-organizer Ulrike de Brentani, a professor in the Department of Marketing, witnessed a need for students to practise marketing themselves to the business and academic communities.
Students prepare for the AGRE by attending a workshop with a graphic designer to learn what makes a poster interesting and are also coached on the importance of using plain language when talking about their research.
And though it’s not the focus of the event, there is an element of competition. Judges from companies such as Bombardier Aerospace, KPMG and DeSerres are invited to choose winners based on relevance of research issues, poster quality and the students' answers to their questions. Past winners have received cash awards, funding to present at a conference or a grant to further their research.
The AGRE is also social — something Dyer says is important for researchers. Following the presentations and awards, there is a reception to further allow students the chance to network with fellow students, faculty members, and visitors from the business community.
Zhe Ni Wang is a PhD candidate in management, specializing in organizational behaviour. Her research focuses on motivation, leadership and employee well-being in organizations. She presented at the AGRE in 2011 and 2012, and plans on presenting research on servant leadership and follower well-being this fall. Wang says she keeps participating because of its educational component.
“It’s a good chance for Concordia graduate students to practise, present and communicate their research with local academic and practice experts,” she says. “I learned a lot from the AGRE — for example, how to make an effective poster and how to properly communicate your research findings.”
Master’s degree student James Michaud also sees AGRE’s learning value.
“I wanted to be able to have more experience presenting academic work, to be better able to explain my thesis more concisely, and to represent the ideas in more understandable ways for a wider audience,” he says.
“I received a lot of ideas and suggestions as feedback on my thesis,” he adds. “It helped me structure the flow better and use fewer jargony words, and it pointed out additional analyses or areas of inquiry that I had not previous considered.”
In fall 2013, Michaud presented his master’s thesis on whether customers are able to tell when employees are being authentic and whether these perceptions of authenticity affect shopping experience. With his data set now analyzed, he’s hoping to present his thesis in its entirety at this year’s exposition.
The 2014 AGRE will take place on November 13 at 4 p.m., in the atrium of the John Molson School of Business (MB) Building (1450 Guy St.), Sir George Williams Campus.
Watch this video to learn more about the AGRE: