04 July 2019

Critique: ROMS comm

A poster about ROM? I remember ROM!

Oh? It’s ROMS, you say? An acronym for Regional Ocean Modelling System? Okay, that’s almost as good as old Marvel Comics. This acronym is part of this week’s contribution from Stefanie Mack:

Stefanie wrote:

I really like the background. It’s a photo I took myself, while on a research cruise, and I use it or part of it on everything from my twitter background to my CV.  It adds interest, isn’t overwhelming, and gently separates the title from the rest. 

I agree. This is one reason why I am often advocating people try to get more photos for their posters! She continues:

I’m mostly happy with the content.  The section on the bottom left, “Smoothing Criteria,” is one of those sections where I don’t actually talk about it unless someone is asking very specific, detailed questions, and then I have to have it to explain properly.  This was my first presentation on a new project that, unfortunately, had no results to show at this stage.  My objective was to lay out the problem and research direction.  It ended up feeling too negative, so I substituted “So, why ROMS?” section for a typical conclusion. 

Sometimes the presentations that you make early in a project are some of the best ones, because you can focus on the problem and aren’t burdened with all that data.

Finding what “ROMS” stood for took a little more effort than I would have liked. When approaching a poster like this, I almost inevitably scan the headings first, because those are visible from a distance. I could read, “So why ROMS?”, even though that heading was down in the lower left.

My first thought is to look for a definition in the first paragraph. Not there.

I finally noticed the ROMS acronym in “Goals,” just under the affiliations. This should be a good place to put that information. It’s at the top, when you first start reading, right?

But it’s easy to miss. First, you’re going to read the title – which is left aligned. Then you’ll read the authors’ names and affiliations – which are left aligned. Then you normally read the introduction (or “The Problem” in this case) – which is left aligned.

But here, there’s a “Goal” statement  – which is centered. Because the goal statement is not left aligned, there’s empty space between the affiliation and the introduction, making it easy to miss. You have to backtrack up to find it.

Make the goal statement left aligned, like everything else up at the top, and the problem is solved.

I’m also concerned about the backtracking between “The Models” diagram and “The Problem,” as indicated by the arrow. It feels like “The Models” diagram (which also defines ROMS) is supposed to be the entry point for the poster. If that’s the case, there needs to be more signposts to show that.

I would rather the trackback be boxes and right angled arrows instead of ovals and curves. Perhaps more like this:

The poster has some rather long text blocks, which makes for a lot of gray areas. I’m wondering if the diagrams in “Smoothing Criteria” and “Pine Island Glacier Example” could be coloured, or set against a coloured background to break up the grayness a little.

I’m not sure if there is any strong reason for the columns to be different widths, or for those top headings not be be aligned.

External links

Just Swimmingly
Developing a coupled ice sheet-ocean model: challenges and progress with terrain-following ocean coordinates (Preprint arising from this work)