SCP Doctoral Consortium Advice Highlights: Part 1

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Greeta Menon and Barbara Kahn recommend the 2 – 2 – 2 pipeline plan.

The professors advised students to have a pipeline of work with a few projects at each of the stages (e.g. review, writing, data collection). As a rule of thumb they offered that one should try to have 2 items at each stage.

Be Your Own Brand

Geeta Menon explained that ““People recognized you for you, not where you go, so you can be your own brand.” She mentioned how no matter where you can go you can use your own work and your own web presence to shape how others see you.

The Punam Keller Goal List

Keller explained that she sets specific academic goals each year (~5). The goals must have actionable steps. Then whenever she considers doing an activity she simply asks “does it fit the goals?” If it does not, she puts the activity and her “say no” list. She says this keeps her focused and her “say no” list allows her to feel okay saying no to things. She also keeps a personal goals list in a similar way and accordingly keeps a great work life balanced. “I have a fabulous life,” Keller told students on Thursday.

“Play around with Facebook Ads”

Zak Tormala recommends students look into the opportunities with Facebook advertising to test hypothesis with cell sizes approaching the millions.  The use of field data was echoed by many throughout the conference. Punam Keller presented a nuanced view of field research. She said she uses the field when it is appropriate and the lab when it is appropriate. She advised against testing hypothesis in the field just because, noting “there needs to a reason” to use the field.

SCP2013: We’re listening.

This week we’ll be reporting (almost) live from the Annual Conference of the Society for Consumer Psychology in San Antonio, Texas.

Even though there will be two of us there, we won’t be able to attend every session and paper, so we’d love to hear from everyone attending the conference. We’ll be watching Twitter for good soundbites from presentations,  but you can also leave comments here or email us at indecisionblogging@gmail.com.

Things we’d like to hear about:

  • great career advice from professors and presenters 
  • outstanding research you think we really need to cover
  • interesting quotes from presentations

We’re also planning a series of posts on how to get published and we’d like to hear what you would like to ask the editors of the most important journals in our field. Drop us an email or come talk to us at the conference – we’d love to hear your ideas.

See you in San Antonio!

Elina & Troy

4 Things We Worry About At Conferences

ImageThe Society for Consumer Psychology Conference is this week. Here are four questions that we often worry about at conferences and four answers answered by quoting interviews from our Research Heroes series.

Which presentations should I go see? Should they be all in my topic of research or should I branch out? Hal Arkes recommends branching out and exploring many different topics in general, “Begin by sampling a wide cafeteria of courses, colloquia, readings, and professors.”

Should I emphasize theoretical contribution or practical application in my presentation? John Payne advises that, “As long as the criteria for tenure remain what they are at the top schools, young researchers will need to concentrate more on basic research.” This suggests you should focus on theory. However, it should be noted that nearly every Research Hero we interviewed emphasized how much they personally value practical contribution.

What if I find myself not enjoying research talks on my topic? Should I switch topics? Jonathan Baron suggests focusing on what you are passionate about. “Remember that research is a labor of love. If it doesn’t feel that way, do something else.”

When meeting with collaborators at conferences, should we decide to continue that weak project? Elke Weber suggests showing self-control and dropping it. “If something is not working out … give it a second chance, but then move on.”

Four Sins of Conference Presentations

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Worried about your upcoming conference presentation? Here’s some advice paraphrased from some of the greats in our field. Try to avoid these four sins and you should be on your way to success.  If you know of any other presentation sins that make you cringe add them to comments.

#4: Saying too much

As the common adage goes, “If you say three things you’ve said nothing.” A presenter is best off if they make one clear point, especially in a short 15 minute conference presentation format.

Jim Bettman advised at the 2012 Association for Consumer Research Doctoral Consortium that when communicating research presenters should tell a consistent straightforward story. He noted that it is a simple linear story, not a mystery story and not a story with many subplots. In sum he advised: tell the audience what you are going to tell them, then tell them it with data, and then remind them what you told them.

#3 The useless literature review

Conference presentations are about the presentation of new research, not old research. However, many presenters (especially young presenters) often are so excited by past findings they spend half their talk reciting papers from the 1980s.

Literature reviews should serve two main purposes: motivating the current research question (e.g. where are the gaps) and providing any necessary background info with which a diverse audience might not be familiar.

#2 Being too in love with methods and data analysis  

Research presentations for the most part should be presenting new theory, clarification of theory, or application of theory. However presenters are often so proud of their methodologies or data analysis that they focus more on their stimuli and statistical models than on the actual research. Remember, three-way interactions are only interesting when audiences understand their potential theoretical importance.

#1 Failing to remind audience of anything

Audience members often get distracted through thinking about an implication of the finding, zoning out from tiredness, or worrying about their own later sessions. This means audience members are not hanging onto a presenter’s every word. If a presenter explains a method, an acronym, or a hypothesis only once, the audience members may miss it.

Thus, for the important items presenters need to remind the audience a little bit. For instance, before presenting a data slide a presenter should say, “Recall that we predicted that because people high in X are more Y they should be especially vulnerable to W, however if they were remind of Z they should not be as vulnerable.”