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The view from the inside: the ADRC Scotland Public Panel at the 2017 Conference

By Carol Porteous, Research Fellow - Public Engagement, ADRC-Scotland ( 

In June 2017, ADRC-Scotland hosted the third annual ADRN Conference. The conference had 3 impressive keynote speakers: Professor Johan Mackenbach from Erasmus MC Rotterdam, David Yokum from the DC Mayor’s Office and Professor Julia Lane from New York University. With 300 delegates arriving over two days at Surgeon’s Hall, it was the biggest ADRN conference to date. However, I think the more impressive deed at this conference was the commitment from ADRC-Scotland to the involvement and inclusion of members of the public at this conference. Seven members of the ADRC-Scotland Public Panel attended the conference and here is what they thought of their first ADRN Conference.

 The public panel members thoroughly enjoyed the conference and how well organized it was:

“This conference was entirely new to me in all aspects and thus it was interesting just to sit and listen and take in as much as I could.”

“It was well organised and staged at an excellent venue well suited to the scope of presentations and sessions on offer. It was always busy and more importantly friendly….”

 The panel members also enjoyed the sessions and suggested they were informative and interesting and thought the conference allowed them to garner new knowledge as well as extend the knowledge they did have

“All the presentations I attended offered something new and interesting and in some instances relevance to my personal and professional life.”

The panel seemed to find themselves as unanticipated attendees at the conference and suggested that some were surprised by their presence:

“A few who were slightly surprised that we, as a public panel were there, but who became very interested once they found out why.”

 However, they also seemed pleased their role and input were acknowledged

“That person said that the ADRC team were proud of our existence.”

In addition, it seems like panel members took the opportunity to network and explain the role of the panel and their potential contribution:

 “Two other researchers approached me after sessions where I had contributed to solicit further information/ explanation of my comments in relation to my role as a panel member.”

 Receiving the panels feedback on the presentations was also interesting. They found that may speakers were excellent in holding the audience’s attention. Others just spoke directly to the projector screen, not engaging their audience. They also thought that preselection of sessions could have helped some sessions from becoming overcrowded. However, on the whole they enjoyed the experience and would be keen to attend future conferences. 

“I never refuse an opportunity to learn and discover, so if the opportunity is there, yes - I would be very interested….”

 So, watch out Northern Ireland, the ADRC-Scotland Panel is ready to invade the 2018 Conference in Belfast!

My gratitude goes to the ADRC-S Public Panel for allowing me to take up even more of their time, to ask them questions about the conference.

Written by Carol Porteous from ADRC-Scotland and published on the ADRN blog under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. 

Published on Tuesday 29 August 2017

Page last updated: 27/07/2018