Annual Research Conference 2021 – Call For Papers

(Re)connecting, (Re)building: Higher Education in Transformative Times
6 – 10 December 2021

International Conference on Research into Higher Education 2021

A Virtual Event

Download and share a PDF version of the call for papers here:

2021 SRHE International Virtual Conference – call for papers

Since our last annual conference, higher education has gone through an unprecedented time of disruption and adaptation. While the sector has responded to the necessities of remote working and learning in agile and inventive ways, it has never been clearer that connection and community are essential to a thriving higher education ecosystem.

The higher education sector engages a wide range of often overlapping communities at local, national, international, disciplinary, and institutional levels. As we move forward into a period of rebuilding and recovery, we now look to identify and sustain the best practices and new insights which strengthen and connect these communities.

Novel possibilities for hybrid learning and flexible working have the capacity to facilitate additional pathways into higher education. How can we, as a community of practitioners and researchers, harness this potential to enhance the inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility of our sector? Creative forms of collaborative working can help us to meet challenges ranging from sustainability issues to disciplinary silos, to enhancing policy impact. What practices, principles, and partnerships should we build on to support higher education as a dynamic and innovative sector?

Recent changes to working structures and patterns also raise a host of important considerations. With different disciplines relying on digital and physical infrastructures in varying ways, how do we configure university spaces effectively? In a sector already strained by internal competition and inequalities in resource distribution, can we enable this period of change to be one of positive transformation? After long stretches in isolation from our colleagues, this event will provide a space to reconnect and exchange knowledge. Together we will ask: what works, what must change, and what new possibilities could we pursue?

The SRHE Annual International Research Conference attracts wide participation from researchers globally. It provides a stimulating international forum for papers of an empirical or scholarly nature relating to research into higher education, in the broadest sense, and from a breadth of different disciplinary perspectives. The conference is highly participative, promoting the dissemination and exchange of ideas in a variety of formats, across a range of research domains.

Please note:

Submissions are invited on any research topic concerned with higher education – no preference or weighting is given in the peer review process in relation to topic. The selection of papers for presentation is based solely on quality.

The 2021 SRHE Conference is open to all postgraduate students, researchers, and practitioners engaged in research into higher education. In the spirit of building connections within and across the sector, this year’s virtual conference will integrate our Annual Conference and our Newer & Early Career Researchers Conference into one combined event. We look forward to creating opportunities for collaboration and dialogue between those at different career stages within higher education. The full and equal participation of everyone in our research and education community is important to us.

We warmly welcome submissions from around the world and look forward to engaging with our global community of researchers at this virtual event in 2021.

The SRHE Conference 2021 will be free to all members of the Society. We encourage all researchers in our global community to take advantage of this opportunity to join the Society and gain access to the wide benefits which come with your Society membership.

Submissions can be made via

Please check our 2021 submission guide for some instructions which will help you to make your submission.

The deadline for submission of all proposals to the SRHE International Research Conference 2021 is Friday 9 July 2021 at 12 midnight in the UK GMT+1 (British Summer Time).


Further information:

If you have any questions not answered in the full Call for Papers, please contact:

Dr Sinéad Murphy, SRHE Manager Conferences and Events:

Katie Tindle, SRHE Team Coordinator:

Assessment Criteria

All submissions are subject to rigorous peer review and the selection of papers for presentation is based solely on quality. There is no requirement for submissions to directly address the conference theme. Empirical and scholarly research from a wide range of perspectives is welcome.

All submissions will be judged by the following criteria*:

  • Originality of the question(s) addressed
  • Effective use and clear explanation of research methodology
  • Clarity of the research aims and objectives and outcomes
  • The extent to which the work is rooted in the relevant literature
  • Significance of the research and the (potential) contribution added to what is known about the area researched
  • Where applicable: the quality of the data and the reliability and significance of the conclusions
  • The quality of the argument/evidence presented, whether derived from empirical work or scholarly analysis

*The SRHE welcomes submissions from every stage of the research cycle – from projects recently underway to published findings. Reviewers will consider the stage of the research project when applying the assessment criteria

Research Domains

Papers are invited for presentation under one of ten broad research domains. This aids the organisation of a thematically streamed programme. Although many papers have the potential to fall under a number of domains, we ask that authors indicate their first preference. The final decision on the domain to which a paper is assigned will be made by the lead assessors as part of the peer review process.

  • Academic practice, work, careers and cultures (AP)
  • Digital University and new learning technologies (DU)
  • Employability, enterprise and graduate careers (EE)
  • Higher Education policy (HEP)
  • International contexts and perspectives (ICP)
  • Learning, teaching and assessment (LTA)
  • Management, leadership, governance and quality (MLGQ)
  • Postgraduate scholarship and practice (PGSP)
  • Student Access and Experience (SAE)
  • Technical, Professional and Vocational Higher Education (TPV)

Presentation Formats

You are invited to contribute to the conference in a variety of forms:

  • Research Paper
  • Symposium
  • Poster

We encourage presenters to share their work in creative ways and welcome different styles and formats – particularly those which maximise the digital format of this year’s event – to encourage and stimulate discussion and engagement with session participants. The same paper must not be submitted to more than one strand.

Research Papers

Research papers may be:

  • Papers which are advanced or complete, and where findings/analysis can be fully reported.
  • Work in progress empirical/data-based studies. The work can be newly underway, and presenters may focus on theory, methodology, and conceptual framework rather than reporting on preliminary/final findings and analysis.
  • Scholarly papers which are discussion pieces or work at the cutting edge of debate on policy and practice featuring novel arguments and exploring difficult questions.

Authors are required to submit:
Part 1 Summary: a 150-word abstract which will be included in the conference programme/available online via the conference website.
Part 2 Paper: a maximum 750-word paper (excluding references and figures), which will be available to download via the conference website.


Symposia provide the opportunity to present 3 to 4 related research papers on a single theme. An individual proposing a Symposium (Symposium Convenor) will be responsible for the title for the session, for inviting colleagues to contribute their papers and is expected to approve the papers from their invited authors before they are submitted.

A Symposium proposal submission must include:

  • A 400-word rationale for the Symposium,
  • The names of the Convenor and/or the Chair of the Symposium,
  • Name of a discussant if appropriate
  • The names and details of all participating presenters plus the title of each presentation planned. Provisional titles are acceptable.

Once the Symposium proposal has been submitted, then invited contributions can then be submitted via the conference system.

Contribute a Paper to a Symposium

Only those invited by a Symposium Convenor can submit a contribution to a symposium.
Your paper will be individually reviewed for its own contribution and how it relates to the symposium rationale. A symposium will not be accepted unless all papers are rated as good or excellent.

Contributing authors are required to submit:
Part 1 Summary:
a 150-word abstract which will be included in the conference programme/available online via the conference website.
Part 2 Paper: a maximum 750-word paper (excluding references and figures), which will be available to download via the conference website.

Poster (E-Poster)

Papers are invited for submission for presentation as a poster. Please note that all Newer & Early Career Researchers who submit a poster will be entered into our annual poster competition.

Our virtual platform will allow you to upload your poster (in PDF format) along with a pre-recorded presentation – conference attendees will be able to view and post comments on your presentation throughout the entire conference. We will also have dedicated poster exhibition sessions within the conference programme; during these sessions, attendees will be able to drop into each presenter’s personal Zoom room to chat about your poster presentation.

SRHE will provide guidance to help you to upload and present your materials successfully.

Authors are required to submit:
Part 1 Summary: a 150-word abstract which will be printed in the conference programme and online via the conference website.
Part 2 Paper: A maximum 400-word outline (excluding references and figures) of the poster’s research question, key ideas, methodology/techniques, and where applicable, preliminary or final results/conclusions, which will be available to download via the conference website.

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