In June 2022, I applied for the Research Support Award as I had applied to present at the Annual Developmental Psychology Section Research Conference with the BPS. I was thrilled when I was accepted to present at the event and the grant from Manchester Met allowed me to book my conference tickets, travel via train, overnight accommodate in a nearby hotel and food and drink for my trip. 

The conference was held at the Crown Plaza in Birmingham and was such a great opportunity to network with other researchers in a similar field. I met some wonderful people from all around the world and I really enjoyed the talks from the guest speakers. I found the poster presentations very interesting and learnt a lot about the current research into autism spectrum conditions and how researchers are working with autistic people to make sure their data is analysed in a way that would be interpreted by a neuro-diverse person, rather than by a neuro-typical researcher. I found this to be a great step forward in understanding the views of autistic individuals. 

I was scheduled to present my work on day 2, so for the first day I was able to get to know the building and see how others found the acoustics in rooms and how they were responding to questions. This helped with my own nerves. 

My presentation lasted approx. 15 minutes and I spoke about the results I had gathered from my systematic literature review and the possibilities that may form from the data collection, so it really doesn’t matter what stage of your research you are at… you can apply, attend and present at conferences too! 
After my presentation there were several questions from lecturers and researchers from up and down the country, and while this was the scariest part of the day, it was very informative. I learnt about new technologies available that other universities are using that I could potentially use within my research. It opened doors to questions and new ways of thinking, that without being a part of the conference, I may never have thought about.  

Following my presentation on the therapeutic benefits of imaginary companions, a member of the publishing team contacted me to write an article on the research I am currently carrying out. I found this was an exciting opportunity to spread the word further about my research and without attending the conference I wouldn’t have been given that opportunity. Without the research support award, I would not have been able to attend the conference on both days and would have had to limit my attendance to one day, with travel which may have impacted my confidence and networking. 

It was a fantastic opportunity, and the support award didn’t just help me attend the conference, it let me network, travel, gain new insights and get an article written about me and my research.  

So, it is with the widest smile, I say thank you to those who made it possible!  

If you would like to read the published article, here is the link:  
New research aims to explore the therapeutic benefits of imaginary companions

You can also find more information about Research Support Awards, by visiting the Funding section in Moodle. 

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