Report from NCIS grantee Dr Janet Smith

A generous bursary from the National Coalition of Independent Scholars enabled me to attend not one, but two conferences in September, to promote my research and the work of NCIS. I presented at both the Women’s History Network’s Annual Conference at Portsmouth University, England, 1-2 September, and the History of Women Members of Parliament Conference, 5-7 September, jointly organised by the University of Westminster and the British Parliament’s Vote 100 Project.
I felt incredibly fortunate to have secured the bursary which enabled me, as an independent historian, to promote a forthcoming book chapter.  The subject of my paper was The First Woman Parliamentary Candidate: Helen Taylor 1885.
In addition to promoting my research I promoted our organisation at every opportunity.  There were more independent scholars at the Portsmouth Conference, as the Women’s History Network has historically included a greater number of independent researchers than many other academic networks. I managed to have a number of conversations about the Coalition, had some interest and had leaflets to offer and leave in the foyer. Each frame of my PowerPoint featured the NCIS logo (subliminal advertising?) and I acknowledged the support of NCIS on my opening slide.
My affiliation was given at both conferences as the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. This gave me confidence that I was there as an equal.  I lacked this status a number of years back when the delegate list would just have a blank against my affiliation, as if I were an amateur who had just turned up.  I expect many of us Independent Scholars have, at some time, suffered from imposter syndrome, and this affiliation goes a long way to validating our status as bona fide scholars.
Thank you, National Coalition of Independent Scholars, for your practical support, because funding for conferences is always problematic for independent researchers. It can be isolating working independently and conferences are an opportunity to network, showcase our research, exchange ideas with our peers and promote our professional organisation.

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