Without doubt, this was a very useful conference with the opportunity to mix with people that are experienced in the ways of qualitative research. Pretty much every session I went to was useful and there will be a change of practice as a result of both workshops. The day on mixed methods was a real insight and pointed up the need for very clear decision making on overall philosophy, paradigm(s), methodology and methods. The only thing really missing was social time to discuss work with individuals. However, everyone seemed very open to conversation.
Size wise this was a giant of a conference with 1900 delegates but with the number of parallel sessions there was usually between 20 and 40 people in each room – making it easy to ask questions. The quality of the sessions that I went to were good with most academics coming over as very knowledgeable. Quite high level language was used by all and there is clearly an assumption that people will be able to understand terms such as ethnography, paradigms, methodologies etc.
Curiously, a full paper is not required. Most presenters at least gave a handout and several full papers. This woul make it a good place to test ideas out in front of knowledgeable peers.
The University itself is campus based so the sessions were quite close together (physically). As for choosing where to stay – ideally as close to campus as possible or on the bus route as many hotels are not close. Parking is expensive (1dollar an hour).
So overall a success and useful for my EdD and research sessions in general – just as intended. Going next year and presenting a couple of papers would be well worth it to get feedback prior to submission to journals.