7 March 2019, London

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This new one-day event took place on 7 March in London with the aim of offering professional advice, insights and career development opportunities, for those at a doctoral, post-doctoral and early career stage. This event was for people working within arts, art history, curating and other cultural fields. The day covered various topics and invited a panel of speakers to talk about specifics within their field of expertise. We asked all 12 speakers to each offer 3 take-away points of advice or insight, and here they are:


• Don’t mind the gap! Add to the map.
• 80% of drafting effort should go on the first 20% of the text.
• Seek guidance and advice from a range of people, across disciplines and sectors.
• Keep it simple but effective – think Scandinavian design.
• Take your time to develop and refine your ideas.
• Remember that you are still a researcher in development and engage with that.
• Develop your profile and think carefully about your audience.
• Apply for things! Make a list of opportunities and their deadlines – even if you are not eligible right now, it is worth noting it down for the future. Remember that big and small, internal and external, are all worth going for.
• Think broadly about your discipline and research.
• Celebrate your successes and don’t take rejection personally. Every application is a learning opportunity and even a rejection could lead to more opportunities.
• Snowball effect – Some funding tends to lead to more.


• Think about how your article will fit with the journal.
• Have patience and don’t submit your article to multiple places at once.
• Follow formatting instructions.
• A thesis is not yet a book (but it is most of the work done).
• New research and rewriting will be required – budget time.
• A book is a commercial object that should promote your ideas.
• Think about marketing when putting together/ submitting a book proposal.
• Keep in mind that the goals of a PhD are different from the goals of a book.
• Allow time to go back to your sources during the rewriting process as you may find something new you want to include.


• Make the best of your energy: teaching, research and public engagement can feed into each other effectively.
• Think precisely about readings for a course and revise the syllabus each year to keep in fresh, and in response to how students engage with readings.
• Make the most of opportunities to teach in a museum or gallery: you need to plan for the challenges, but looking at physical artworks enables a deeper engagement than teaching from slides.
• Take advantage of any training opportunities.
• Participate in peer observation – learn from your colleagues’ teaching and ask for their advice on your practice.
• Consider teaching opportunities beyond HE (e.g. museums and galleries; outreach initiatives).
• Keep being a student and think about what you find helpful as a learner.
• Be a good colleague and lean on your colleagues when you need to.
• Make a plan: decide what you want to achieve and work out what the best way is to get things done.
• Learn how to prioritise.
• Keep going.


• Communicating research intelligibly and coherently to non-specialists is something that you have to practice.
• Recognise your strengths and capitalise on them.
• Overcome a natural fear of being obnoxious when promoting your work. You’re an expert; you have earned and should own your work.
• Your priorities may be at odds with institutional ones; work out how to negotiate these challenges.
• Give new things a try. You can learn to do things that may initially scare you, and you can become good at them.
• Be true to yourself: who you are, where you come from and what you believe.
• Enjoy it. Communicate your entitlement to be in your position (you have earned it!) and your enthusiasm.
• Personal brand. You have an online presence so you should take charge of it. What are your professional aims? Shape your brand through podcasting, blogs, social media.
• Synergy. Sync up the things that you’re doing so that your online brand makes sense, and your different outlets drive each other forward.
• Ask for things. You get lots of nos, but you will get yeses too. Asking can lead to unexpected opportunities.
• Don’t be exploited. Make sure you get credited and paid appropriately for your work.

The Professional Development Day was organised by the Association for Art History’s doctoral and early career research (DECR) committee.

Contributors to the 2019 Professional Development Day were: Chloe Jeffries, Grant Writer, University of Manchester; Thomas Bray, Wellcome Trust; Alison Clarke, Early Career Researcher; Jeanne Nuechterlein, Deputy Editor, Art History; Baillie Card, Editor, Paul Mellon
Centre; Andrew Chen, Research Fellow, St John’s College, Cambridge; Jennifer Sliwka, Deputy Director of the Visual Commentary on Scripture, King’s College London; Katie Faulkner, Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute and at the University of Warwick; Matthew Cornford, Professor of Fine Art, University of Brighton; Danielle Thom, Curator of Making ,MuseumofLondon;CarolineCambpell, Director of Collections and Research, National Gallery; Ferren Gipson, Social Media Marketer at ArtUK, ArtMatters podcast, PhD Candidate at SOAS.
Event Organisers: Naomi Billingsley, Susannah Kingwill and Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth (DECR committe); Claire Davies and Ruth Dorber (Association for Art History).

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