Mixed Quality Research
in a Beautiful Setting
A brief report on the International Society of Sport Psychology’s
Aaaw, I knew this would happen... writing this report really does make me want to go back! For despite August being a slightly unusual time of year to visit southern Australia, the climate was certainly not what us northern Europeans associate with winter. Some evenings were a bit colder, but generally the days were glorious. The fact that the conference venue (the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre) was in Darling Harbour certainly didn’t hurt, with its views, close proximity to touristy sights, and good selection of bars and restaurants. I’d like to be able to have lunch outside every day in the sunshine by the waterfront here in London!
As you can tell, good things spring to mind when thinking back to the ISSP world congress of sport psychology. But to be able to write this report from a slightly wider viewpoint than just my own, I performed a highly unscientific survey with a sample of friends and colleagues who attended as well: Magnus Lindwall from Halmstad University, Jennifer Cumming and Nikos Ntoumanis from Birmingham University, Iain Greenlees from Chichester University, Martin Hagger from Essex University, and Dave Smith from Chester University.
Generally, we all agreed that the location was beautiful and that there was plenty to see and do outside of the conference. The wide range of participants attending was another positive aspect of the congress. Certainly I have never before attended an event that was quite so international, with delegates from not just the “typical nations” of USA and Western Europe, but also from India, Iraq, and the Philippines! Several of my colleagues also agreed that the opportunity to interact with a large, friendly and international crowd was the best aspect of the congress altogether. However, there were few organised social opportunities to make new contacts, with there being no official congress dinner. The dinner cruise that was organised was too expensive for all to attend and also had limited places available. So, more organised excuses to socialise, please!
As for the format of congress presentations, there were generally three concurrent sessions for most of the day, running from an early 8 am (which presented some problems for some of us!) to 6 pm. But although the days were long, there were no designated poster sessions, and this was definitely seen as the most negative aspect of the congress. We would all have valued specific sessions to view posters, so that they would have conflicted less with oral presentations and break times and so that it would have been easier to reach some presenters.
Linked to this, some also thought that there were too many posters and not enough oral presentations, and that the reasons underlying which abstracts “qualified” as orals was unclear at best. Moreover, there were many annoyed delegates who found it unacceptable that the congress organisers converted orals into posters only after having accepted an abstract for presentation. This poor organisation and review process leading up to the conference was highlighted as something that definitely needs to be improved for future congresses.
As for the quality of research presentations, these were generally perceived as mixed. Key notes were not always seen as particularly novel, but were generally of high quality. Four were highlighted as being especially good, including one by Dan Landers about exercise as treatment, and one by Nanette Mutrie about applied exercise psychology. More sports oriented were one by Brad Hatfield about the cognitive neuroscience aspects of sport psychology and, perhaps especially appreciated, the concluding keynote by Ken Ravizza about lessons learned from sport psychology consulting. This mixture of emphasis on sport and exercise was something that we generally appreciated, and it is evident that our field has moved more and more toward health and exercise in recent years. This is particularly encouraging given the increasing prevalence of obesity and related illnesses in our societies. So, the ISSP congress did a good job of showcasing some of the latest research into how the field of sport and exercise psychology is moving forward. Let’s hope that some of the organizational shortcomings of the congress will be addressed for the 12th world congress in Morocco in 2009 so that we can meet up again there with another four years of knowledge to share!
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