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Values in Science – How to Judge Scientific Posters

(apologies if this post isn’t super clear — I just wanted to get it out)

I haven’t posted in ages, but I am at a conference, I can’t sleep, and something is on my mind, so I figured I’d strike while the iron is hot.

I’m at the 2010 Computational Science Graduate Fellowship Fellows Conference in Washington D.C. This evening I had the pleasure of serving as a judge for a poster competition. The current fellows present posters on their graduate research. The poster topics shared the theme of “computational science”, but besides that they can be from any discipline. I’m not going to discuss the specifics of the posters here.

The basic criteria we judged posters on were visual, oral, and impact.

To me, there are fundamental rules governing effective poster design. For example, in the visual category, use no paragraphs of text, and large fonts (even in figures), and well balanced graphics. In the oral category, have a 3 minute speech prepared, and refer to the poster when delivering that speech. I was surprised, however, how other judges had vastly different values when evaluating the work submitted. Most specifically, some judges felt that work of high scientific quality could compensate for poor poster presentation.

Have you ever designed or seen a scientific poster? If so, what do you think are the most important criteria for evaluating this sort of work?

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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Alchemy

 

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The Genetic Carry-On Limit

Flying through Philadelphia is practically the same as asking to lose your luggage. As I wait at the baggage claim for a suitcase I know won’t come, I wish I had listened to my mother and squeezed everything into a carry-on.

Packing for a flight reminds me of a game I played in elementary school, in which we had to list five items we would want if we were stranded on a desert island. I always listed television, my best friend and ice cream, but, for some reason, never a boat.

It’s the same question we face every time we travel. What should we bring, and what should we leave behind? Deciding what to pack is almost equivalent to the philosophical question of what you need to survive and be comfortable.

I think about problems like this a lot…

I wrote an essay (here, page 5) attempting to convey the philosophy behind my research project, and it landed an honorable mention in a writing contest. This led to the nice result of getting to work with a professional copy-editor before the essay went to print, and they gave me a lot of insight into how to tighten up my writing for a general audience. A nicer result was feeling like I had a little win with regard to my research, and those wins seem to come few and far between recently.

Thanks to Jason and Gretchen for help editing my original essay.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2008 in Alchemy

 

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