International Creative Methods Conference
Blog by Cara Black and Naomi Leonard
The International Creative Research Methods Conference took place in Manchester over two days from the 11th – 12th of September 2023. It brought together creative researchers from across the world and allowed us all to share knowledge, experiences and to network with each other. The planned sessions ran concurrently in several different rooms, giving attendees the ability to choose which sessions to attend.
The mornings of both days began with a keynote presentation. Both Pam Burnard and Caroline Lenette excellently delivered keynotes respectively, which revolved around the need for rebellion and disruption in research. Specifically, the presentations encouraged us to think freely, to challenge the ‘rules’ and decolonise research to revolutionise our field of work. They also prompted us to reflect on our own methods and think about how we could improve/ adapt them.
Across the two days, five sessions were attended in total. In many of the sessions unique creative research methods were presented, with several sessions focusing on increasing engagement and participation in research. Participatory methods such as, community storytelling, gaming, photovoice, theatre, yarning and embodied mapping were given as examples as accessible and creative ways to meaningfully involve more people in research. In this way another key point explored was inclusivity in research, specifically with a focus on BAME and SEND underrepresented groups. Creative methods not only allow more diverse people to be involved in research but also to be involved in more aspects of the research process. These research methods therefore also effectively promote co-creation and the involving of participants as drivers of the research.
Common struggles expressed by many of the researchers at the conference related to having their work valued and to progressing their projects/ ideas with funding constraints. Enforcing the idea of rebellion and the need for disruptive research that pushes the boundaries and revolutionises the way we conduct research. Creative methods sometimes lead to a feeling of ‘stuckness’ or messiness in the research process. Presenters prompted us to embrace those feelings and to work through them, as often that is where innovation lies.
Overall attending the conference was a wonderful experience and allowed us to talk to many varied and interesting researchers who use creative methods in their projects. We got to share struggles, successes, experiences and ultimately learn from each other. Many presenters spoke on the issues of getting their work published and the impact of funding schemes on their creative research aspirations. To address this, presenters prompted us to think in new ways and to be ‘rebellious’ with our research. The conference also provided a valuable overview of the diverse ways in which creative methods can be used in research.
It was inspiring to see so many established creative researchers in the space. It is clear that creative methods have the potential to make research more effective, inclusive, and impactful. We got a lot out of the conference in terms of knowledge, experience, and networking and we are excited to see where the future of creative methods is heading.