Last week I attended the PhD students & Early Career Conference organised by the Regional Studies Association (RSA) and I had very interesting conversations with Michael Taster – he is on the second year of study on a “collaborative award PhD entitled The Production and Reproduction of Policy Relevant Spatial Knowledge and New Publication Techniques: A Case Study of Regional Studies. A project which brings together funding and collaboration from the Regional Studies Association, Taylor & Francis, the Economic and Social Research Council and the University of Sheffield in order to investigate the ways in which academics are responding to changes in scholarly communications” – It is what he said in the beginning of his presentation. By the way – it needs to be very nice feeling to have so many funding and collaboration institutions to mention 😉

During the conference dinner he asked me – “How did you find out about the RSA?” 

In my first answer, during the dinner, I described a scene, when I was sitting at my desk and reading an article of one Polish Professor. I liked his work so I visited his University’s website and I found out that they founded Polish division of RSA (EUROREG). I checked RSA website, and read how to become a member. I registered, paid, and that was all. 

Next day of the conference, in the morning, I was still thinking about Michael’s question, because I was sure that somewhere in my memory there was some “real” motivation for joining the RSA two years ago. And I found it – I wanted to join the community of the people interested in the same research area who could understand my research interests too. Regional studies in economics aren’t so popular and a lot of people who I meet ask me – “but why do you do research about regions?” In RSA everybody understands needs of regional level research 🙂 

Before joining RSA I had talked once with my Friend. I was complaining that nobody understood me, and I felt lonely with my research interests. Most probably, during that conversation, I was asking him about criteria for choosing an appropriate scientific conference to go… He recommended me to go for the conference organised exactly in my research area, where I could meet people who shared the same research interests, and receive more accurate feedback from an audience after a presentation, and talking with people there in general. 

My Friend was right, as always 😀 When I attend RSA events I feel like “I am at home”. There I have opportunity to meet people who see regions as an important area of research. I feel that people there understand me. I can also listen and talk (if I am brave enough) with top researchers in my field, people who’s works I read a lot of, and from whom I’ve learned a lot about regions and regional studies. It is like meeting with my “scientific idol” 😉 and I feel as a part of a regional researchers society 🙂 

I think that each PhD student should find his/her “RSA” (in figurative meaning) as an association of the people with similar research interests, where we can learn, and grow, and share ideas. I see it important for our development as scientists. I think that for sure there is an academic association for each kind of research interests, so each of us can find a place for oneself 🙂 

P.S. I use too much “important”, I should find some nice synonyms 😉  

Useful links:

http://www.regionalstudies.org – Regional Studies Association website

http://www.euroreg.uw.edu.pl/en/ – The Centre for European Regional and Local Studies (EUROREG) website