RCN 2013 International Nursing Research Conference Belfast

Some reflections from Suzanne Watts, this year’s Marjorie Simpson New Researcher

Alison Twycross (Editor of Evidence Based Nursing) presents Suzanne Watts with her certificate at the RCN's International Nursing Research Conference
Alison Twycross (Editor of Evidence Based Nursing) presents Suzanne Watts with her certificate at the RCN’s International Nursing Research Conference

Award winner

I suspect that the 2013 RCN International Research Conference will be remembered by the delegates for two things. The first being the breadth and scope of the outstanding presentations and the second the weather.  For some of the delegates the blizzard conditions on the final day may possibly have overshadowed the presentations and other activities, as flights were cancelled, airports and roads closed and anxieties raised about return journeys home.  However, for many of us inside the conference hall, it was only the occasional flicker of lights throughout the day that reminded us of the blizzard conditions blowing outside.

Over the three days, the conference programme was packed with themed concurrent sessions, keynote presentations, symposium and posters. The breadth of presentations was impressive, providing a diverse programme to meet the interests of nurse researchers, practitioners and educators.  As always there was never quite enough time for questions and discussion after the many excellent, thought provoking presentations.  Thankfully, session chairs kept to time providing opportunities for questions from the floor before a quick dash to the next presentation. It is impossible to begin to describe the range of presentations, however they can be downloaded to view from the conference website (together with the comprehensive Book of Abstracts).


This was a truly international conference with presenters from as far afield as Iceland, Australia, USA and South Africa.  In an inspirational plenary address to the conference Professor Wendy Chaboyer described how she nurtured, developed and established the Nursing Centre for Research Excellence at Griffith University, Australia, by demonstrating the contribution of high quality nursing research to the evidence base of health care.

A series of fringe meetings were organised for delegates who were PhD students and supervisors. These meetings were well attended and provided insights into a range of issues.  A mock up viva examination offered helpful hints and some reassurance about the process for those nearing the end of their studies.  A Q&A session provided the opportunity to quiz experienced academics about the PhD process from registration to examination. One of the most enjoyable parts of these events was to meet other PhD students, at different stages of their studies, to share stories and experiences.  These fringe meetings are an excellent way to support and encourage novice researchers. However, talking with other delegates it would seem that there is a need for workshops for those who are thinking about embarking on a PhD and who require advice about the early stages of the process.  In particular for nurses who who may not have strong links with academic departments.

On the second evening of the conference a drinks reception was hosted by the University of Ulster and the Belfast Visitor Bureau. Coaches picked up delegates from the conference venue for a city tour en route to a drinks reception held at Stormont parliament buildings. Despite the bitter cold wind outside, there was a warm welcome at the reception with drinks, delicious nibbles and entertaining speeches.

I was fortunate to receive the RCN 2013 Research Society Marjorie Simpson New Researcher Award. The award is in recognition of the work of Marjorie Simpson who was instrumental in developing and promoting nurse research in the UK in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Her legacy is apparent at this conference in the quality and quantity of international nursing research.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Evidence Based Nursing who sponsored the award covering the cost of my conference registration fees, accommodation and a contribution of £100 towards costs of travelling.

This was my first RCN International Research Conference and I was not disappointed. I am now looking forward to attending the 2014 conference in Glasgow where, hopefully, the weather will be more Spring like.

Suzanne Watts, PhD Student, Oxford Brookes University

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