With the assistance of a Research Support Award from Doctoral Services, I was able to attend and present a paper at the ARCOM (Association of Researchers in Construction Management) Conference 2023, held over three days in September 2023 at the University of Leeds. This was my first academic conference and an invaluable experience which has benefitted my PhD research in several ways. 

First, the process of writing my paper, entitled ‘An Affective Approach to Building Information Modelling (BIM) Research’ helped me understand where my research is situated in the field of construction management studies and beyond. The paper draws on projects and organisation literature, sociological considerations and aspects of human geography to argue for a focus on affect and atmospheres in construction research. I had some concerns that this approach might be too unusual even for those with specifically sociotechnical interests in construction studies. Thankfully, however, my presentation was received well, attracting some very positive comments and a lively Q&A session (‘lively’ meaning there was some disagreement between established scholars in the audience on one particular aspect of my work – so at least I know that my research sits at an exciting intersection of academic debate!).  

As well as presenting my own paper, I had the opportunity to attend many other conference sessions about construction digitalisation and more, helping me not only to learn more widely about advances in the field, but again to understand my own research position and its connections to current and future research. I was inspired by two compelling keynotes on the conference theme of ‘Constructing for the Future’, both calling for bold, critical advances in the construction research agenda, and a PhD researcher’s lecture on women owners of construction businesses, a subject close to my heart.  

Finally, but just as importantly as the previous two points, I had the chance to meet construction management researchers from all around the world at the daytime presentations and evening social events. I felt thoroughly welcomed into the community, engaging in a diverse array of discussions, making friends and also opportunities for future collaboration. The significance of this social aspect can’t be overstated. Realising I can reach out for support and also contribute knowledge and expertise to the community feels both empowering and validating, and I am already discussing writing and conference opportunities with people I met at the conference. 

Reflecting on attending the ARCOM 2023 conference, the main takeaways for me are: increased confidence in terms of understanding the value of my research, reassurance in belonging to a supportive and exciting research community, and more practically, building opportunities for future collaborations and having the foundations for a journal article publication. Thanks to the support of Doctoral Services and my supervisors, Professor Andy Dainty and Professor Ulysses Sengupta, for this fantastic experience. 

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