Sunday, 26 February 2012

Research Posters & Presentations

Unfortunately, very few university programs worldwide (esp. outside US and in the social sciences) offer meaningful courses in academic writing & presentation relevant not only to theses writing but also to attending conferences and journal publishing.

This very weird phenomenon can be attributed to three major reasons. First, there is noone competent enough to offer such courses. Second, professors don't feel students should know about these things - which means they are undermining their potential. Third, there is the psychological fear that students will learn the 'essential' information: 'Why tell students everything we know? Shouldn't we keep some information to ourselves?'.

Luckily, on the other hand, there are still scientists willing to share what they know. A couple of months ago, I saw Author Aid's resource of the week Many Posts about Posters: the US-based biology professor Zen Faulkes (Dr Zen) blogs on Better Posters about how academic posters should be improved in order to look both informative and beautiful. His blog is updated weekly and he comments on posters' content and design as posters are developed. On the right-hand side of the blog other resources can be found, among which ePostersf1000 and Nature Precedings - from April 2012 new posters are to be submitted to f1000 Research. Even if they are life sciences-centred, some knowledge can be applied to other fields as well.

Dr Zen CC-licensed book Presentation Tips provides advice on how to prepare and deliver a public presentation - a resource that can benfit students as well as other academics and non-academics.

A great aggregator of academic posters info is the Poster Resources & Design Tips guide compiled by the Knowledge Center of the University of Nevada, Reno. Be sure to check the links under 'poster examples' and 'more poster design advice' -- you will see that it is a tree with many branches.

Another aggregator, even more comprehensive, is hosted by the Graduate School of the University of North Carolina. They have assembled tips and advice from a large number of universities on their Poster and Presentation Resources page.

I also recommend Adam Read's Prezi presentation on academic posters as well as the very useful and engaging online tutorial prepared by the University of Leicester Student Learning Centre.

The Scientist has assembled poster do's and don't's in an article and f1000 tips (one page of expert advice) can be downloaded here. My favourite presentation tip is the one given by prof. Ferdinando Boero (f1000):
"Imagine, by John Lenon, is about 3 minutes think your presentation deserves more time than Imagine?"

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