28 March 2019

Link round-up for March, 2019

Mike Morrison has a 20 minute video describing what a poster session is and how to make a poster.

Unlike Mike, however, I do not believe poster sessions are “holding the human race back in a non insignificant way.” The video, particularly the first half, is pessimistic about poster sessions. Around 13:25, good stuff starts to happen as Mike outlines a good poster design. I think he overestimates people’s willingness to snap pictures of QR codes, though.

Mike has provided templates here, and is working on a study validating the design he has. He is looking for grad students to participate. You can email him at Mike.A.Morrison@gmail.com.

Amy Burgain saw this video and offers this alternative:

Amy writes:

It achieves the clear simple message BUT emphasizes how that message is supported by the DATA. It keeps the goal of understanding how the conclusion is related to the data while also making it easier to glean main messages.

I plan to have my own longer post about this in a couple of weeks.

Hat tip to Chris McTeague.

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Dan Raboksy talks about the difficulty of working in poster sessions with hearing issues.

I have profound hearing loss and struggle in many conf situations. Plenary talks in ballrooms: usually bad to impossible. Poster sessions: terrible.

Dan notes that someplace with background noise, like a poster session, makes it almost impossible to understand speech. Off the top of my head, I think there are a few things that organizer can do to help:

  1. Have posters go up and stay up when no poster presentations are scheduled, so people can view posters in a more quiet surroundings.
  2. Ensure there are “quiet rooms” where someone can go to. Some people just like to have “chill out” rooms, but these could double for quiet conversations. (Science Online used to have these.)
  3. Make posters available online before the poster session. (This idea from Goring et al., 2018.)

• • • • •

BBC journalists have written an explainer on how they generate their graphs in support of news. They are using R’s ggplot2 package and putting out some nice stuff.

ggplot2 gives you far more control and creativity than a chart tool and allows you to go beyond a limited number of graphics. Working with scripts saves a huge amount of time and effort, in particular when working with data that needs updating regularly, with reproducibility a key requirement of our workflow.

The team has generously shared what they have learned by putting out a reference “cookbook” for making graphs and a package to generate the BBC’s house style.

Personal opinion: I’m glad it works for them, but I am never going back to command line.

• • • • •

Morgan Carter suggests a way to integrate posters and preprints:

(I)f you are making a conference poster about work from a recent preprint, throw the QR code at the beginning or end to invite folks to “read the full story”. I did it at a major conference last year, and I got questions about #biorXiv and preprint posting.

BiorXiv has a built in QR code generator. Hat tip to Tim Stearns.

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Stacy Keith has a useful infographic to budgeting time for making anything, including posters.

• • • • •

Bryan Gaensler has a useful Twitter thread on how to deal with the stress of conferences. For example:

Look through the attendee list in advance. If there’s someone coming who you know and trust, ask them beforehand to check in with you during the meeting to see if you’re OK, or to introduce you to the people they’re talking to

Many more tips in the thread.

• • • • •

Speaking of tricks, here is a list of ten tips for making text more readable by Igor Ovsyannykov. A couple of years old, but new to me.

• • • • •

LeeAnn Tan has a wonderful gallery of her poster work at PosterFolk.com. I hope to have more from LeeAnn in the weeks to come!

What seems obvious to you may not seem obvious to a new conference goer. Jesiqua Rapley wrote:

My first conference was an international conference in another country in the first year of my MA. I was alone, incredibly introverted, and terrified. I had NO idea what I was supposed to do. I didnt even know how to properly hang my poster.

Supervisors, don’t do this to students. Don’t leave them hanging. Either go with them or do extensive briefing beforehand.

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