UPDATE: This post was picked up and reposted on the blog of the Research Students’ Society at UWS. You can therefore read it there as well. Good luck to all participating students at the UWS poster event!
On Friday, urticaria May 7, 2010 the University of the West of Scotland is organizing a poster event for its research students. The morning will be dedicated to final year research students presenting their research (M004, Paisley Campus) and the afternoon to first and second year research students displaying a poster related to their research (Student Union, Paisley).
For the students who haven’t attended many conferences as presenters, a poster event is always a valuable opportunity to gain experience in this area. However, the biggest advantage that a university-centered event like can provide is that of networking with peers and getting to know better what other research projects are being undertaken in the university.
I have recently received numerous questions about how should one organize and present a poster. Past experience makes me believe that the most important in a poster presentation is the speaker’s ability to depict and explain his/her research project in a way that is accessible and understandable to a non-academic audience. I would argue that is recommendable to have a sound research idea (with clear objectives, research precedents, methodology and sampling) since that would support the researcher progress in his/her work. However, it is the appeal, enthusiasm and understandable argumentation that would win the attention of the audience. Moreover, I would argue that how the poster looks is less important but when designing it one should keep in mind that the poster’s role is to attract attention. Clarity, balance and color are among the elements that make a successful poster design no matter if the poster uses the traditional rectangular form (be it portrait or landscape) or chooses a different layout. The rule for less clutter applied to powerpoint presentation is valid here as well – the poster’s role is to visually support the researcher’s argument NOT to overshadow it by competing for the audience’s attention. The University of Leicester poster page provides good and sound advice with regards to how a poster can be organized.
I am still hoping to see the day when a poster presentation event would enable better and more innovative integration of new technologies and by that I do not mean allowing presenters to bring a laptop or projecting their poster instead of printing it but rather using augmented reality applications to the give the presentations a new dimension, allowing for live video and audio contact with a second researcher that is not in the room or integrating live voting (using twitter or text messages) for the posters presented.
To conclude, a poster presentation event is a networking opportunity and a chance to practice and polish presentation skills. The poster is there a visual aid but a winning presentation resides from what the researcher says and does than from what the researcher had printed.