It’s been a week since I made my presentation at the UWS research student poster event last Friday and as promised, I am concluding the experience by writing up Part 2 of my reflections. Overall, the event was an excellent opportunity to meet other PhD students from my school and from other departments in the University – as well as being asked questions about research work from professionals and academics in the wider community. The posters were part of a greater event which included the 3rd year students presenting papers in the morning. There were over 80 posters in total, ranging from sociological projects about Glasgow gang-culture to Science projects about electromagnetic fields, and lasted for roughly 4 hours.
There were a couple of observations which I felt can make or break a poster event if you are considering applying for one:
You are where you stand:
As I was number 81 of 82, I was tucked away at the dark end of the room. The way that the event was organised, many people passed around the central posters (which were lit by natural daylight) and didn’t venture down to the bottom of the room. If you have a choice, get there early and make sure that you pick a place where it is easy for your poster to be seen. No matter how bright and simplifed you make the initial design, it goes out the window if there is small things making it difficult to draw people to your area.
Who are the audience?
Although the event was advertised as an opportunity for research students across the University to present work to a general audience, I it was felt that there was a bias towards scientific research. This was predicted due to the nature of UWS’s other departments and in terms of interdisciplinary research, I totally agree that there should be more realistic opportunities to network (with the intention to work with) people from different fields. As the judges for the competition were from industry relating to engineering and science, there was quite an obvious divide between them and “us” (social scientists) – mainly in what was considered an appropriate poster. As this was my first presentation of this nature, I couldn’t believe that it was seen as a “good thing” to cover a page in really small and hard to read text – basically a research paper blown up to A0. Working towards future events, it would be interesting to attend MeSSCA’s Poster event to see what would happen in a media-specific audience.
Forget the competition – instead network and meet others
I’m very keen to work with people from other disciplines, but I’m not entirely convinced that there is one straight format to pull the WHOLE university’s research community together. Nevertheless, I managed to connect with others after the event who I wouldn’t have met if I did not attend. This was the most valuable of experiences and from this it is hoped that we could come up with ideas to create events which suit our topics or look towards research seminars where we take turn to present our work to a mixed background audience.
In sum, it was a valuable event to attend and although I did not feel as if my school was fully represented in terms of feedback and discussion, it was still a good space to explore ideas and have PhD work challenged and critiqued. Furthermore, I hope that the contacts made will result in future projects and knowledge sharing. Lastly, I’d hope that similar spaces could eventually opportunities to present innovative methods of results and presentation displays; I’d like to see more opportunities for PhD students at UWS to present and disseminate their research.