Some tools to design an academic poster in social sciences

Today’s class with Dr M. Prodeau on Learning Language strategies & development proved to be a bit of a challenge for some students and at least a surprise for me. It so happened that she suggested we share our finished posters (our ma project) with the group, looking at the strategies we had used to prepare for the poster session. I heard an number of useful comments & suggestions when preparing the poster that I will add to my toolkit.

Find out how others do an academic poster, seek advice from colleagues & those with experience. Print out the poster and have an overall look well before the deadline. Does the poster engage you in wanting to read it? Do the visuals, pictures, graphs, colours help you in the process of becoming interested in the subject at hand or do they rather disturb?

It is a poster, so visuals are important. Pictures need to be contextualised and should help explain the topic. I’ve used picture of participants where I did my research. I want to show how everyone, young and adult is involved in moving, constructing realities.

Should it be difficult to find visuals that contribute towards explaining the research subject, then use the texts to create movement, be it by colour, highlights or lines between ideas. In my case, I’ve decided to do away with highlights in order to encourage the reader to read the whole passage as every word there has been carefully chosen and is worth reading.

Design your poster in a way that it can be placed in a room where people may pass and you may not be there. Have an interesting, catchy title and why not original headings that present your research interest.

Be prepared to talk about your poster and answer questions. Why not gather your colleagues for a test run? Use the visuals to explain your poster and in a way ‘sell’ it to your audience, show them how your subject is worth considering and staying a few minutes to look at it.

Be self-sufficient when putting up the poster and be prepared for the worst case scenario, bring the tools needed to put up the poster.

If this is your first poster, it may not be the last one, so start learning from it right now.

Find the balance between all of the above mentioned points. Being prepared well in advance helps the revision process as you can look at the poster over a period of days and the changes you make will be more thought through and without undue time pressure.

Above all be convinced and passionate about your research field and stand up for what you have written on the poster.

Trying to self-evaluate my first poster and being critical about it I wish to say that it has still too much text, although 2 professors thought it was good and excellent. I know myself that during the project I will need to narrow down the unit of analysis but I’ve made much progress on understanding the notion of theory & method.

Facebook, blogs & the net has allowed me to connect with Bahá’í researchers that have much experience in the field of research I’ve just started. I get the feeling that I start to get my teeth into the subject matter and this is fascinating.

As a result of new media I’ve been able to make slight changes to my poster. As a result of today’s class I’ve redone the layout, placing pictures in a way that they point to essential reading areas. I haven’t seen the original size A0 yet, but the A4 looks already better, more balanced. I’ve also taken away text that explains certain points but seem less important as they can be looked up on the internet.

I wasn’t sure about the title, after changing it to: creating new social realities, I’ve switched to: moving between social realities.


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