27 August 2015

Link roundup for August 2015

And this month’s winner for best repurposing of a conference poster goes to Will Mandy:

BioMed Central is starting a series on scientific illustrations called, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

The collection has three articles so far, each of which examines a different specific graph and how it could be improved. The one above takes on bar charts versus box plots and rescaling the Y axis.

This title for the upcoming Society for Neuroscience meeting is sure to ignite debate about whether posters should have funny titles:

12 things you didn’t know about high responder/low responder rats, stress coping, and the dorsal raphe. Number 5 will blow your mind!

Hat tip to My Cousin Amygdala.

Icons can be useful things for all sorts of graphics. There is a big icon library call the Noun Project that might be useful for in poster design. Its splash page boasts that it has 150,000 icons. I gave it a whirl by searching for “crayfish,” because those have been on my mind:

Not bad. You have a choice of downloading PNG or vector based SVG images, and it’s all available under a Creative Commons license. I will forgive them that two of their icons are definitely crabs and not crayfish. Hat tip to Paige Jarreau.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has an album of songs from space. Fellow musician Jud Haynes (of Wintersleep) talks about the process of designing this cover.

Jud is an academic at heart:

I set out on the first phase of every good design project, “research”.

Hat tip to none other than the man himself, Chris Hadfield.

I’m a bit late to this article from two scientific illustrators talking about their craft. These guys are not doing literal interpretations of data, but they still want to get it right. Jon Hendrix says:

In my visual language, science is one of the easiest things to illustrate. There are so many nouns involved. The great thing with science, even in something as abstract as arithmetic, is there’s always some sort of image involved in it, and lots of stuff—whether it’s robots or plant material—that’s exciting to draw. It’s funny, sometimes when I do a science piece, I don’t have to draw things accurately, but I do want to value the science and the research.

Journal covers can have some similarities with posters: a big focus on key images and findings. Cell Press discusses how they pick their cover images: for the journal Neuron:

In particular:

(T)he editors have varying opinions within the team about what they prefer in a cover. Some like somewhat abstract images that require the viewer to stop and think about the connection between the visual and the experiment or idea it represents, and others prefer a beautiful scientific image over a metaphorical work of art. ... Images that look like simple reproductions of figures will most likely not be selected. In other words, no scale bars.

Rebranding a university is always tricky. I’m going through this process now. Penn State is doing this and has a new logo:. Compare the left (old) and right (new):

It hasn’t gone down well. I like the new Penn State logo in its overall design. The only problem is the eyes of the lion looks zombie-like, or, as one person said, “hypnotized.” But there isn’t much you can do about that when that is what the statue looks like:

I’d be a little creeped out having that on my campus.

Speaking of logos and rebranding, here’s an article about the creation of the distinctive NASA logo from the 70s.

Which conferences should you go to? You know, the location on the map doesn’t necessarily tell you about what the conference experience will be like. Jacquelyn Gill has some reflections on this based on her experiences with the Ecological Society of America conference:

I can attest that meeting location usually has little to do with the quality of amenities. Milwaukee, which had the lowest attendance in the last decade, is on a beautiful waterfront with lovely art deco architecture and great breweries. ... Portland and Albuquerque... were far from amenities and it was challenging to get to and from hotels and local restaurants. I hope more folks will realize this, and check out the places that aren’t as glamorous.

I wrote a guest post on the Edge for Scholars blog, describing the top three things you’re doing wrong on conference posters. Yes, I wrote and listicle, and yes, I feel dirty.

I’m also quoted in this article about the future of research conferences. The overarching theme seems to be that people want more interaction at conferences.

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