Opposites Attract Collaboration Challenge 2019

Call for individual applications: Thursday 7 March 2019 12.00 (midday) Monday 11 March  CLOSED

Are you ready to take on the challenge of working with another doctoral researcher from a different discipline for two months?

Our Opposites Attract competition returns for the third year running and we’re greatly looking forward to seeing how participants rise to this creative, collaborative challenge.

Opposites Attract pairs up doctoral researchers from different disciplinary areas and invites them to work together to produce an output for our annual Festival of Postgraduate Research. The output might be a blog, poster, video, grant proposal, game, conference paper, hands-on display – the choice is yours! Whatever your output, we ask that you give a ten minute presentation on your project for the festival audience. In previous years we’ve seen collaborative pairings from students in health sciences and business, in computing and environment, in design history and sociology, and more. We’ve seen posters, videos, blogs, conference papers and journal articles on a range of topics including deforestation in Brazil, diabetes and photography, marginalised cultures in recent Olympic games, and AI-driven futuristic fanfiction. We had one participant who’d been a doctoral student for only a couple of months; another who was just weeks away from submission; and others at the various stages between start and finish on the doctoral journey. The one thing all participants have in common was how rewarding they found the challenge to be.

Previous entrants have said:

Opposites Attract has allowed me to break out of the bubble of my own research project and provided an important change of pace through the sometime tortuous writing-up process.
– Adam Talbot, SaSM

Working on this project gave us the chance to be exposed to other disciplines and apply our skills in a new direction. We each came into the project with a different understanding of what constitutes research and were forced to think through our own academic cultures as we worked to produce something we could all agree on. It may not have taken a form that any of us are accustomed to, but this process pushed us to think through what constitutes knowledge and a research outcome.
– Kate McCallum (Humanities), Kate Monson (Social Science), Majed Al-Jefri (Computing, Engineering and Maths)

We’re particularly thrilled to report that the winners of our first competition in 2017, Kate McCallum, Kate Monson and Majed Al-Jefri, recently had a paper published about their FanFutures project in the Journal for Artistic Research. Congrats all!

Opposites Attract (based on an original idea from Bristol Doctoral College) provides a unique opportunity for doctoral researchers to explore the benefits and impacts of working collaboratively across disciplines. The project teams are encouraged to reflect on and document their progress, and to offer insights into the process of negotiating different research pathways, to finding common ground, through to the development of an idea leading to a project conclusion.

If you’re interested in taking part this year, the deadline for individual applications is 12pm on Thursday 7 March Monday 11 March 2019. You do not need to have identified someone to work with in order to participate – the Doctoral College will play matchmaker! But if you do have a plan, we ask that both applicants complete an individual form. We will then invite all entrants to a pairing meeting on Wednesday 13 March, 12.00-12.45, Moulsecoomb. (If you are unavailable on this date, please note this on your application form.) You will then have eight weeks to collaborate and produce an output.

David Arnold Memorial Prize


The resulting outputs will be showcased at our Festival of Postgraduate Research in Moulsecoomb on Wednesday 22 May 2019 and the winning partnership will share a £500 prize, to be awarded in memory of Professor David Arnold, former Dean of the Doctoral College. David’s own vision of multi- and interdisciplinary research is, we feel, well reflected in the Opposites Attract initiative. Offering this prize helps us all celebrate the enormous contribution David made to the Doctoral College.

Key challenge dates:

Individual application period: 4+ weeks
• Application opens – Tuesday 05 February 2019
• Application deadline – Thursday 7 March 2019  Monday 11 March
Consultation and pairing
• Group consultation with applicants and pairing session – Wednesday 13 March, 12.00-12.45, Moulsecoomb
• Confirmation of successful pairs by Monday 18 March 2019

Project collaboration: 8 weeks
• Eight weeks project collaboration period
• Submission of collaborative outputs for judging – Monday 13 May, 12pm (midday)

Presentation and winners announced at Festival of Postgraduate Research
• Opposites Attract presentations/displays – 22 May 2019
• Winning partnership announced – 22 May 2019

See also:

Opposites Attract 2017
Opposites Attract and festival round up 2018