Lucie Whitmore, a PhD student at the University of Glasgow, co-founder of War Through Other Stuff, and member of the First World War Network, has kindly provided this review of our Research and Teaching Workshop, which took place last month at the University of Sheffield. The First World War Network are hard at work planning our next event now, and would love to hear your thoughts on what kind of specialist training and discussion YOU would like to see us provide. Join us by visiting the link below and completing our introductory questionnaire, and keep up with all the latest news by following us on Twitter @FwwNetwork:
Many thanks to Lucie for sharing her thoughts with us!
On July 18th, the First World War Network held their latest event at the University of Sheffield; a teaching and research workshop for postgraduates and early career researchers working on projects related to the First World War. I travelled down from Edinburgh for the event, and I’m so glad I braved the eight-hour round trip as the workshop proved not only to be incredibly helpful, but also a lovely opportunity to put faces to names and connect with other researchers.
The day started with a three-minute summary of research from every attendee, meaning that by the end of the first session we had a good idea of who everyone was and what they were working on. (Isn’t it nice at the end of a conference when you finally get a sense of all the different skills and interests in the room? This was like that – except at the start of the day, hooray!) While many of the attendees were PhD students like me, a good range of disciplines and backgrounds were also represented, and the chance to ask each other questions about our projects and experiences was very welcomed by all. A couple of projects discussed in this session with an online presence include:
- Skipton Prisoners Of War: https://arts.leeds.ac.uk/kriegsgefangen/
- Reflections on the Centenary: http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/staff/lucy-noakes/ahrc-reflections-on-the-centenary-learning-and-legacies-for-the-future
- Recognize Black Heritage & Culture: http://www.recognizeonline.com/world-war-1-britains-black-community
After a nice long lunch break and a chance to chat with other attendees, we moved on to a session on teaching the First World War. Professor Alison Fell and Dr Chris Phillips led this session, with the aim to help us construct First World War-related teaching modules for undergraduate students. I have never done undergraduate teaching so I found all aspects of this session incredibly useful, with the First World War subject matter a bonus! By the end of this session we had all constructed teaching modules in small groups which we presented to the rest of the room. (I hope the ‘Dressing the First World War’ module Jenny Roberts and I designed comes to fruition one day!) One thing that I particularly liked about the teaching session was the reminder that there are infinite approaches we can take to the study and teaching of the history of war, as demonstrated by the great variety of ideas that were being discussed around the room.
The last session was led by Dr Matthew Ford, founder and editor-in-chief of the British Journal for Military History, and Dr Martin Hurcombe, co-editor of the Journal of War and Culture Studies. In this session, we all learned a huge amount about the journal publishing process, and particularly the kinds of decisions editors make about the content they publish. Both Matthew and Martin were very generous in sharing stories and advice from their quite different careers as journal editors. A few key pointers that I noted down from this session were:
- When submitting an article to a journal make sure you have read their ‘house rules’. If you have not included all the information they require, or your article is in the wrong format, it could be rejected for those reasons alone.
- Similarly, make sure you have fully understood the remit of the journal. Don’t waste time submitting articles that may not be within their scope and interest.
- Editors are not interested in articles that simply ‘describe’. If you find some brilliant source material, do something with it!
- When submitting to a journal, make sure you explain why your research matters.
- If editors come back to you with lots of feedback after peer review, or you go through multiple rounds of peer-reviewing, this probably means they really want to submit your work. They are giving you everything you need to get the work published because they see the potential in you and your work.
- If you get a rejection or bad feedback, try putting it out of your mind for a few days and come back to it with a little distance. It may be easier to digest!
The day ended with a quick visit to the pub before we all jumped back onto our trains home. My main take away from the workshop was how helpful it had been to attend an academic event which incorporated really practical, helpful sessions as well as the chance to share research ideas. As PhD students we are (usually) given training of sorts from our universities, but it is not usually as focused or specialist as this. I certainly feel far better equipped to design a teaching module or submit a journal article, and I very much look forward to seeing what the First World War Network will be teaching us next!
Lucie Whitmore is a final year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, researching women’s fashion in the First World War. She is the co-founder of ‘War Through Other Stuff’, and will be co-editing a special themed issue of the British Journal for Military History.
You can access the call for papers now!