Ideas for social activities

As mentioned on the Values page, a defining feature of a ResBaz conference is social activities that encourage networking and knowledge sharing between researchers. Here’s some ideas/resources for ResBaz social activities:

A knowledge bazaar

The attendees at a ResBaz conference have skills and knowledge is all sorts of different areas, so the challenge as a conference organiser is to get them to share that information in a fun, non threatening environment. Hosted under a large tent (i.e. a bazaar / marketplace setup – hence the name of the conference), the knowledge bazaar at the 2015 Melbourne conference was a mix of short informative talks, networking opportunities, fun and games, intellectual debates, interesting exhibitors and great food. You can read all about it here.

Digital toolbox poster session

Rather than a typical poster session displaying research results, a number of ResBaz events over the past few years have had participants create posters showing the tools in their digital toolbox. You can see details and example posters here.

“Keystory” speakers

At a typical academic conference keynote presenters will talk about their research. While that’s all well and good, what you don’t get to hear so much about is their story. How did they get to where they are today? Why are they so passionate about what they do? Many ResBaz conferences pick the most interesting people they know in academia and ask them to present a “keystory” instead. You can see a recording of some of these keystories at the ResBaz YouTube channel.

Therapy session

To unwind at the end of a long ResBaz day, a number of ResBaz conferences have shown a screening of the PhD movie, which is a comedy that pokes fun at the frustrating and stressful aspects of the research life.

Hack your own stuff sessions

After the formal classes have been run at ResBaz, it’s a good idea to give participants the opportunity to work apply the new skills they’ve learned to their own research. Hack your own stuff sessions can be completely unstructured (i.e. people just work on their own stuff and ask helpers and peers for assistance as need be), or you can ask participants to submit problems they’re having in their own research that the entire group can work on.

A ResBaz traffic light party

Instead of wearing red, yellow or green, attendees wear a sign on their back listing 3 digital tools/skills they know lots about (e.g. Python, Git and Authorea) and a sign on their front with 3 digital tools/skills they’d like to know more about (e.g. databases, D3.js, data licensing). Attendees then go around the room and find people who either want to know about what’s on their back or who know something about the things listed on their front.

Partner up

Rather than doing all the hard work of organising yourself, it’s common for ResBaz events to partner with other community organisations doing cool stuff in the academic space. For instance, Nerd Nite and Laborastory events have both been held during ResBaz Melbourne in the past.

Ideas for classes

At ResBaz conferences classes are typically taught by researchers as opposed to IT professionals. Here’s some ideas/resources for running researcher-led classes:

  • The global organisation that has led the way in researcher-led training is Software Carpentry. Their lessons on scientific computing (e.g. unix shell, Python, MATLAB, R, git/GitHub) are a perfect fit for a ResBaz conference. It’s not unusual to run more than one Software Carpentry workshop simultaneously at a ResBaz conference.
  • Data Carpentry is a sister organisation of Software Carpentry, which focuses on domain specific courses on topics such as spreadsheets, databases and programming with Python or R.
  • Many of the ResBaz sites around the world have created their own custom materials, so reach out to the community on Slack to see what’s available