New Researchers Stream 2021

IMPORTANT NOTICE: 2020 Conference update

Unfortunately, current circumstances mean that we have had to postpone the previous arrangements for the 2020 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference at Aston University. This conference will now go ahead in early September 2021. This feels like the only reasonable choice given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, we are pleased to announce VSSN and NCVO will be partnering to host a virtual conference – ‘Times Like These’: Researching civil society responses to and recovery from COVID-19 – to be hosted digitally across the 7th and 8th September.

The following information has been left in place for reference, ready for the 2021 conference:


New Researchers Sessions – Call for Papers

The purpose of the New Researchers Sessions (NRS) is to give those who are new to research or new to the voluntary sector and volunteering research community an opportunity to:

  • present their research to other new researchers
  • get constructive feedback in a supportive environment
  • meet and network with other new researchers
  • network with established researchers and practitioners

Our aim is to foster a strong community amongst new researchers. Many well-established researchers in our sector started out their careers by participating in the NRS. Feedback from past years suggests that attending the New Researchers Sessions helps establish a positive network at the conference and beyond.


Ways to engage

You can do a formal conference presentation or you can choose other ways to present your research – we are open to your suggestions!  Examples could include:

  • a ‘traditional’ paper presentations (typically up to 30 min for presentation and Q&A)
  • a poster session
  • a PechaKucha presentation (20 images, 20 seconds each)
  • a lightening talk (a few minutes, generally part of a panel of presenters)

In the past we organised a mock viva.  Another time a student presented her research ideas and got feedback from the group.  Please think about what works for you and we will do our best to accommodate the different styles and needs of all whose abstracts are accepted.


Opportunity for feedback

We aim to have an established researcher at each of the sessions who will provide you with feedback. If you submit a full paper by a date yet to be determined, you will also be given verbal feedback on the paper during the session.  We also encourage participants to give each other feedback.


How the New Researchers Sessions interacts with the main conference

All delegates of the New Researchers Sessions are invited to attend the open and closing plenary sessions of the main conference and to participate in the World Cafes. You will also have plenty of opportunities to network with established researchers and practitioners during refreshment and lunch breaks.

The NRS Wildcard

All NRS delegates will receive a wildcard; this will enable you to attend one of the sessions at the main conference.

If you want to attend more than one session, you will need to register for the main conference and pay the main conference fee. More information about this is available on the main conference page.


Submitting an abstract

Abstract submission for the 2021 conference has been postponed and will reopen next year. Please see this page for details of the 2020 e-conference.


New Researchers Prize

If you submit a full paper by a deadline yet to be set it will be considered for the New Researchers Prize which includes an award of £100. Your paper should:

  • be between 2,500 and 4,500 words inclusive of references
  • include a literature review
  • include a methodology section
  • provide analysis of (early) findings
  • include full references using a recognised referencing style (eg, Harvard)

If you have not completed your research data collection or analysis, it is fine to give some idea of any emerging themes or your next steps in the project – they do not have to be fully-formed.  We accept that other researchers may have worked on your research project and so may be listed, but the paper itself must be written by one or more new researchers.



As part of its commitment to new researchers, VSSN subsidises much of the cost of attending the NRS.  The fee to attend for the two days is £100; this includes registration, lunch and refreshments and the conference dinner.

Please note:

  • there are a limited number of spaces in the NRS
  • you must be a member of either VSSN or NCVO to receive the subsidised rate
  • there is no early bird rate for the NRS
  • the fee does not include accommodation or travel

VSSN provides a limited number of bursaries to cover conference fee for individuals who do not have access to funding from their organisation/institution and would not otherwise be able to participate. For more information please email


You can read more about the New Researchers Sessions on the NCVO blog.

If you have any queries about the New Researchers Sessions, please contact Jane Cullingworth at: