Conferences, in general, can be intimidating for many scholars, even those well-established in their fields. Conferences are meant to be spaces in which scholars have the opportunity to debut or test out their current research in conversation with other scholars (and perhaps expert practitioners) thereby soliciting beneficial feedback and questions. Depending upon the discipline and conference culture, this feedback and questioning can appear brutal to the emerging scholar, though I would venture to guess such brutality is reasoned to be reflective of the true, honest, critical engagement required for sound research production. I feel equally true, honest, critical engagement in the service to sound research can easily be obtained without being complete poopy heads (a technical term) about the whole process. This world has enough big egos in operation (and look at the mess that has created) so a little generosity and humility in delivery can make criticism constructively productive while maintaining strict standards. The result of such engagement, in my well-intentioned opinion, produces an opening for more meaningful, creative, innovative research content rather than research simply echoing the voices within the hallowed and tenured academic halls.
This year, I was graciously elected Chair of the Early Scholars Section. The section was born out of the Diversity Scholars program. Three 2013 Diversity Scholars, Mary Clare Hano of North Carolina State University, Gizelle Clemens of The Wharton School, and I (from University of San Diego) did not want the valuable mentoring of Diversity Scholars to end. We were encouraged by ARNOVA's Executive Director to pursue an Early Scholars Section. As Gizelle stepped back for professional reasons (though her spirit remained), Mary Clare and I worked for a year and half to make Early Scholars a reality. We now have a wonderful full Leadership Team eager to help make Early Scholars the best it can be. Early Scholars Section is different from other ARNOVA sections in that we anticipate high membership turnover as the group works to be a section of best practices to support early and emerging scholars toward success in academia and practice. Early Scholars is a broad term encompassing doctoral and masters students, new assistant professors, new practitioners, faculty not new to the classroom but new to the world of research and publishing, and well-grounded professionals new to the world of research and publishing. Our hope is to give early and emerging scholars valuable tools to create confidence in ability hoping those early and emerging scholars who transition to senior scholars will reach back to help others. While too early to make any conclusions, Early Scholars seems to be off to a good start. We were part of the committee that brought together the free Early Scholars Workshop and we held our first section meeting last week. Most comments have been positive with valuable insights for improvement. We, as early and emerging scholars, are invested in ARNOVA, the organization that first invested in us, with notable results.