Academic Posters – Using Pictures to Enhance Your Words:

An academic poster doesn’t have to be a bristol board with some cut outs glued to it along with some glittery letters, an academic poster can be a useful tool to a great presentation.

Either on a backboard or even through a projector lens we can create academic posters, conference posters or presentation posters.

In order to have an effective academic poster the creator must take into account several things:

  1. The audience the poster is directed towards: Pick what the poster will have on it based on the general audience, can you include anything people can relate to? Will it be a focal point of the presentation or will it be an accessory?
  1. Try to use as little words as possible and still have it make sense: Don’t convert your      whole speech to pictures, unless for some reason you want the audience to repeat after you. The poster does what you cannot and that is to give visual aid.
  1. Have a full poster, but not a busy one: Making the audience have a sensory overload is definitely not a goal to strive for, even posters for the wildest rave festivals are simple enough to understand at a quick glance. Including hectic patterns, many different font and font sizes, moving images, sounds, and anything else to distract the viewer can cause more confusion and distract the viewer.
  1. Keep it interesting: Give the audience a reason to want to look at it, include interesting pictures, ask questions, have charts, include quotes, give proof, etc… Just remember to pick the ones that will have the most impact and any other pertinent information can be found elsewhere once the reader has taken interest. It is the “front-line” of advertising.
  2. The poster is a direct representation of the presenter: Whether the speaker created it themselves or if a person with more expertise such as an advertising company created it, it will always be a representation of the presenter and the cause or company they stand for. If it looks sloppy and poorly done, it will reflect itself on every other aspect of it’s origin.

People can sit down and talk until they’re blue in the face or type until their fingers fail about the “do’s and don’ts” about making a visually appealing poster but it ultimately takes practise and constructive criticism from others, trial and error and most importantly: confidence.  

Below are two examples, one is a good poster and the other is a not-so-good poster, take a look and try to find the good and bad aspects of them both:


Example 1:

tennant-catherine-2010

The first example uses colour, making it jump out at the reader, the font goes with the overall feeling of the poster’s concept, it shows pictures that pertain to the message of laughing and the reasons behind doing so. There may be slightly more words and sentences than needed but at least it makes the reader stop and investigate. Overall the general message is conveyed and it makes sense and can be perceived as interesting. Questions are asked, and answered but left the reader still intrigued.

*Example used from: https://wiki.queensu.ca/display/QMoodle/Teaching+with+Moodl


Example 2:

shaha1post

The second example is very plain and to the point, it has about the same word count as the first example but it is displayed very blandly, without any imagination. The pictures are there but they don’t really do the poster any justice, the creator could have left them out and it would have made very little difference. This poster was full of information but would be a bit much for someone merely passing by.

*Example used from: http://sabinashah.blogspot.ca/2010/05/academic-poster.html

Conclusion:

The best way to begin creating good academic posters is to analyze ones that already exist, there are several great websites to help as well which are included below and to develop your own style based on trial and error. There are very few “bad” posters but there many “ok” ones and fewer “great” ones.

As stated above, it is always important to remember that the poster is providing the visual aspect while the presenter articulates the spoken/written portion, if done properly the poster and presenter will compliment each other perfectly, which will make for a pleasant experience for the audience.

References:

http://colinpurrington.com/tips/poster-design

http://guides.nyu.edu/posters

http://colinpurrington.com/2012/example-of-bad-scientific-poster/

https://phdposters.com/gallery.php

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A Perfect Presentation: Effective Data Visualization

Presenting data is an essential part of learning. It helps to process often difficult information. Presenting data to others in order for everyone to grasp a general concept can be a daunting task. Everybody perceives things differently and people have developed different kinds of learning methods that they prosper in. Many people use the help of visual aid to understand data, some need numerical information to be converted into word format to understand the breakdown of statistics, and a few people can look at a jumble of data and derive the necessary information that way. Knowing and understanding what data or information is can be quite difficult when so many disciplines use various methods, such as abbreviations, technical language, numbers, symbols, units of measurement, etc. When presenting very specific data to a very diverse crowd, many people may not be on the same page in regard to having full knowledge of what the speaker is presenting.

So how can one or a few speakers create a presentation that everybody, from tens to hundreds and even thousands of people can all understand simultaneously? Using visualization and data presentation techniques such as graphs, pictures, short videos, mapping and breaking down information properly, a speaker can reach broad audiences with their message.

It is all too common that we throw together a basic slideshow or presentation, include a lot of information, a few pictures then explain it all verbally and hope that it turns out well. People have a tendency to forget who they are presenting to, either over simplifying or not simplifying enough. Some presenters have a tendency to put their whole verbal portion on the presentation itself so the audience is just reading along with the speech. This would be effective if the presenter was perhaps incorporating a Disney sing-a-long, however for the most part that isn’t the case.


The fundamentals of demonstrating a proper presentation can be broken down into six steps:

  1. Simplifying: Keeping it simple or using layman’s terms can help a speaker reach a broader audience who may not be familiar with the topic. An important tip here is to try to engage with an audience without being patronizing or condescending.
  2. Less is More: The speaker is the one who is verbalizing and doing the speaking. If only words were involved there wouldn’t be much need for a presentation, therefore the presentation should include things which the presenter cannot provide alone. The presenter should not include all of his speaking points in the presentation. They should use point form, pictures, graphs, mapping, timelines, and short videos to emphasize their talking points.
  3. Ask then Answer: Ask relevant questions then answer them. The speaker should have a great deal of knowledge about the topic they are talking about and possess the ability to provide questions and answers, also answers for general audience questions. By posing questions to the audience the speaker is engaging them in a more personable way.
  4. Visual Representation: Visual aid helps to process and solidify points in a way that is easy to understand. The use of shapes, colours and patterns will clarify and make the presentation more interesting.
  5. Charisma: A presenter and their presentation are symbiotic. While one half may take the brunt of the presentation, the other half must also carry it’s weight. A great speaker with a poor presentation or a poor speaker with a great presentation are, in essence the same: not effective.
  6. Audience Interaction: People don’t necessarily like sitting down and being “talked to”, people like having their questions to be asked and their voices to be heard and by getting the audience involved through participation can really amplify and even enhance the presentation itself!

Presenting data and information can be both fun and rewarding. It is a very intimate way to present your research and discuss topics you are passionate about. I hope these tips help make a somewhat daunting task easier for those who may be nervous about presenting.

Ethics: Postcolonialism (and its research)

Being a traveller and having a very basic perspective in business I can understand why people would want to colonize places. I mean, there are places in the world that are not as wonderful as others so of course people would want to migrate, industrialize and live in. If I could pick up my entire family and friends, move them to a tropical climate or somewhere deep in the mountains, open a brewery or dive shop I would in a heartbeat.

What if the place we moved to didn’t want me there or what if people in my circle didn’t agree with the inhabitants who lived there before us? What if our religions didn’t agree, or the food we ate offended them or what if the music we listened to was in some way blasphemous?

Do we get guns and massacre them all and turn them into slaves? Do they slaughter us and enslave us? Can we make it work somehow, do we want to make it work somehow? After a decade or a half-century or several centuries how will we feel about each other and what has happened between us?

These are the problems with colonization, ultimately leading to postcolonialization. Many will argue that it is wrong to indoctrinate people who don’t want to be indoctrinated and I for one agree. However, this is not always the case and the people who think they are doing good. I’m sure the CEO of the North Dakota Pipeline surely thinks they are doing good by bringing crude oil through the country, and it can be, except there are many people who highly oppose it for good reason. What will happen in the years later once it becomes established? It will probably end up just like Flint, Michigan. A city with poisoned water and a government who simply doesn’t care to fix the problem, a government who has participated in making the situation far worse than it should be. I used the North Dakota Pipeline for a few reasons to describe postcolonialism, because as bad of an idea as it is, there is underlying good in it. No matter what people say until we find a better solution for crude oil – we need it, literally every single thing you see in the modern world needs or has needed oil during its production in some way or another. This is the same idea that the people who choose to colonize believed introducing (imposing) religion was essential to spread the world of whatever god it is they believed in. This is the same idea why the police force are currently against the people who oppose the pipeline (humans who are hurting humans over money) which can be related to slavery on an abstract scale and this is why the government won’t step down and admit they’re wrong, because in the eye of the public they have to be seen as faultless.

Is the pipeline or colonization wrong? It doesn’t have to be. Has it proven throughout history to be unethical due to the mistreatment of humans and the environment? Of course it has.

In regard to research ethics, any idea can seem good but a person should always try to view the topic from as many perspectives as possible and approach the situation with an unbiased opinion, forming an opinion which has the best possible outcome for everybody involved.

Annotations: Books which are Fundamental to the Future of Interdisciplinary Studies

 

  1. Peleg, I. (1998). The Middle East peace process : Interdisciplinary perspectives(SUNY series in Israeli studies; SUNY series in Israeli studies). Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10588765

This book examines the ongoing conflict in the Middle East between the Israel / Palestine dispute over land since the 1967 war. Due to completely different religions and political beliefs it has proven itself extremely hard to achieve peace, by involving different disciplines in social sciences it is hoped that a resolution can be figured out so everyone can live in harmony.

  1. Bell, R. M., & Yans-McLaughlin, V. (2008). Women on their own : Interdisciplinary    perspectives on being single.New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.      http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=348824

A collection of essays exploring the counter narrative of singleness, traditionally in many (if not all) cultures and societies it is customary for women and men to be together for a plethora of reasons such as: security, procreation, to be provided for and accompaniment. As time goes on and the world changes, women are becoming more empowered, not really “needing” men for traditional reasons anymore. Many women are now choosing to stay single, exercising their power and authority over themselves and themselves alone, forever altering the patriarchy.

  1. Alvarez, A. (2001). Governments, citizens, and genocide : A comparative and interdisciplinary approach.Bloomington: Indiana University Press. http://www.aspresolver.com/aspresolver.asp?HURI;2706491

Comparing the discussion of genocide in an interdisciplinary fashion, through bringing attention to the social phenomena of genocide. It is thought we can prevent such atrocities from happening in the future by shedding light on and studying previous occurrences.

“Silence is the real crime against humanity” – Sarah Berkowitz

  1. Bel-Enguix, G., Dahl, V., & Jiménez López, M. D. (2011). Biology, Computation and Linguistics : New Interdisciplinary Paradigms(Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, v. 228; Frontiers in artificial intelligence and applications, v. 228). Amsterdam: IOS Press. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=784584

This publication discovers why it is important for disciplines to reach out and work together rather than stay exclusive to one another. Being disconnected from other disciplines results in very broad views and leaves many parallels that could have been discovered to be missed entirely.

  1. Meadows, S. (1989). Understanding child development : Psychological perspectives in an interdisciplinary field of inquiry.London: Routledge. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10017785

The concern of this book is to discuss the procedure of child development, Meadows is a psychologist who has recently been working with school teachers that are advancing their degrees such as moving into the developmental psychology field of study.

By teaming up with various people who are involved in different forms of psychology she hopes to broaden the spectrum of child development.

  1. Grumett, D., & Muers, R. (2008). Eating and believing : Interdisciplinary perspectives on vegetarianism and theology (T & T Clark theology; T & T Clark theology). London: T & T Clark. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10427149

Vegetarianism is steadily becoming a common practise for many people because there are so many benefits: health, preventing animal cruelty, supporting local shops, supporting local farms and recently it has been discovered to have positive impacts on the environment by reducing energy consumption and decreasing individual’s “carbon footprint”.

  1. Global Conference on Critical Issues in Sexuality, Breen, M. S., & Peters, F. (2005). Genealogies of identity : Interdisciplinary readings on sex and sexuality (At the interface/probing the boundaries, v. 26; At the interface/probing the boundaries, v. 26). Amsterdam: Rodopi. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10380572

This is a series of publications that are inter- and multidisciplinary research projects which explore a range of critical and cultural perspectives: looking at love, desire, intimacy, betrayal and cheating and how they differ from culture to culture.

  1. Muntigl, P., Weiss, G., & Wodak, R. (2000). European Union discourses on un/employment : An interdisciplinary approach to employment, policy-making and organizational change(Dialogues on work and innovation, v. 12; Dialogues on work and innovation, v. 12). Amsterdam: J. Benjamins. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=622537

Europe is made up of many different countries who can have varying opinions, policies and perspectives on varying topics, this book takes a look at employment specifically and how to maintain an effective economy. There are policies that are made up and need to be refined for linguistic purposes so there is not misinterpretations since Europe as a whole has several different languages.

  1. Le, T., & Short, M. (2009). Critical discourse analysis : An interdisciplinary perspective (Languages and linguistics series; Languages and linguistics series). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=3018296

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a relatively new field in the academic world, meaning it is still somewhat experimental, and has some controversy specifically revolving around Western/European intellectuality, but as it gains attention it should naturally diversify.

CDA covers different subjects such as: language education, health sciences, information technology and examines the differences of these topics through various countries such as: Spain, New Zealand and Indonesia.

  1. Wiesemes, R., & Karanika-Murray, M. (2009). Exploring Avenues to Interdisciplinary Research : From Cross- to Multi- to Interdisciplinarity. Nottingham: Independent Publishers Group.

This book compares the difference between disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies and how taking an interdisciplinary approach can greatly benefit research. Since its emergence in the 1950s, it has forever changed how we look at ecology, biotechnology, discourse studies and cultural studies, and many more. Rather than looking at one topic like the previous books mentioned, this book explains how to take an interdisciplinary approach to all topics, to make interdisciplinary study a lifestyle in essence.

Passive Voice: Becoming an Active Writer

I am often guilty of using the passive voice, and have a hard time differentiating between active and passive. In this post both forms of sentence structure will be researched and I hope to revisit past work to omit passivity. The University of Toronto has a very informative document on the passive voice which helped me with this assignment.

In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is neither a do-er or a be-er, but is acted upon by some other agent or by something unnamed (Greenbaum p. 359). For example: 

passive: The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.

In the active voice the noun is “responsible for the action in the sentence comes first” (Corson p. 1). For example:

active: Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876.

There are instances when a passive voice is acceptable. For example, passive voice can be used when: you are talking about a general truth, you want to be vague on who is responsible, or you want to emphasize the person or thing acted on, or you are writing in a scientific genre reliant on passive voice (Corson p. 1).

Passive sentences can create vagueness in academic writing, which can easily cause confusion when referencing different authors (actors) and their actions. I am often a “wordy” writer, which can make works unnecessarily hard to follow. To remedy this, I will in the following paragraphs rewrite excerpts from past work omitting words such as “is,” “are,” “was,” and “were.”

1. From A Change in Perspective: From East to West

In this state of mind people exist but do not live. Until I moved out west I never truly felt alive. Freedom of exploration exists here, the possibility to pack a bag and disappear into the wilderness for a few days at a time, to climb things, and to meet new people from all over the world.

Non-existent culture lives in the town I grew up in. Due to racism within the communities, cultural exposure resulted in bad experiences generally outweighing the good experiences. Outside of my little suburban bubble lived a plethora of cultures in the Canadian melting pot. However, invisible borders divided cultures. Segregation and little education, left most children in my community ignorant to the many voices around them.

2. From Everyday Liars: Micro-Expression & Facial Recognition

We don’t live in a fairy tale world such as the story of Pinocchio. When he lies his nose grows, giving him away. Humans have far more subtle facial expressions, so subtle that we can rectify an unwanted expression within less than a second. “Micro expression” are our initial expression which we quickly hide, which shows our true feelings before we mask it with an opposite expression.

Advances in psychology and technology enable continuous lying. Visual media outlets such as television and web news lie to manipulate for mass consumption of hidden agendas. The news anchor, politician, religious leader, salesperson can now look millions of people in the eyes and lie directly to them.

3. From Titles: A First Glimpse into the Thoughts, Opinions and Writings of an Author

In academic writing, it can be difficult to be creative with titles. Author’s creativity in titles gives their article that much more of an edge.  Leora Audlander uses an interesting combination of mathematical symbols and punctuation to catch the audience’s attention in “Do Women’s + Feminist + Men’s + Lesbian and Gay + Queer Studies = Gender Studies?” Interestingly, references also add creativity. In “To See and Hear Like Ophelia, or How Not to Take Leave of One’s Senses: Representations of the Madwoman in Youtube Culture” by Monika Sosnowska she references Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” comparing a historically popular character, Ophelia, to today’s modern theatre “Youtube.” A colonic title allows for the interesting comparison.

I am a huge fan of the colonic title. To get a point across, more simple titles work, however a more complex title (like a colonic title) gives room for creativity and clarification. From the list below I tried to find a wide range of titles, however colonic titles stood out. In conclusion, I think content of the articles cause dependence on the title and colonic titles would not always be necessary. However, the difference between a good title and a great title has proven itself to be about creativity and clarity, which a colonic title further allows.

Reference List:

Greenbaum, G. (1993). University Grammar of English. Longman Group, 1-3.

Corson, T. (2016). Passive Voice: When to Use it and When to Avoid it. University College Writing Centre, University of Toronto,  1.

 

Citation: When, How, Why?

In an academic culture that bases most of our own research by building upon the research of others, citation is very important. Research and ideas are intellectual property, and credit is due for those who work so tirelessly on their work. That being said, it is crucial to explore when, how and why we are using citation.

When?

Citations should be used whenever you find yourself using information that you would not know without researching. It is easy to write on a tangent, but it is important to recognize when you are using facts that are not “general knowledge.” I will outline some instances below that would require citation based on my target genre essay on Lewis Wicke Hine’s photography (which I will link here.).

Historic Facts:

An example of when you should use citations is when using historic facts. Below is a quote from my essay:

“Lewis Wicke Hine was an American documentary photographer whose works served as documentation of the need for social and labour reform in “American factories, mines, mills and other industries” (Leaper p. 510).” (Underwood p. 2)

The facts that Hine was an American documentary photographer who explored american factories, mills and other industries in not common knowledge, and therefore those facts need to be supported by a citation.

Research or Ideas of Others:

Citations should always be used when you are directly discussing someone else’s research whether it be comparing it to your own or using it to support your own ideas. I have included an example below:

“For a gelatin silver print, which uses paper covered in a silver salt emulsion and is exposed under a negative plate, there is much grey colouring that suggests a shorter exposure time (Rosenblum p. 380).” (Underwood p. 3)

This quote emphasizes that it was not my idea or research that proves the colouring of the the photo suggests a shorter exposure time, it was in fact Rosenblum’s idea as suggested from their extensive knowledge and research into the medium of gelatin silver prints.


How?

There are many ways to use citations. Again I will pull on examples from my essay to show examples. For the purpose of this class and social sciences, APA (American Psychological Association) is the preferred style. Other common styles include MLA (Modern Language Association) which is used often for humanities subjects, and Chicago which is used for arts.

1. Direct quotation embedded in the grammar of the sentence.

“His work with the organization pushed him to become a professional “social photographer” (Rosenblum 378).” (Underwood p. 2)

This is the style I tend to use most often, using quotes as a fluent part of a sentence. This is especially useful when including factual information from another text. The above example embeds the wording “social photographer” which Rosenblum uses to describe Hine’s occupation. He was in fact a social photographer, so the small quote flows nicely in the description of how his work influenced his own occupation. 

2.Paraphrase (indirect) quotation embedded in the grammar of the sentence.

“He studied sociology at the University of Chicago, Columbia University and New York University and later became a teacher (Leaper p. 510). (Underwood p. 2)

This quote paraphrases a paragraph that Leaper in detail describes Hine’s education background. This sentence condenses facts based on Leaper’s research, and therefore require a citation. The information id paraphrased to condense the facts to be very direct.

3. Direct quotation embedded in the grammar of the sentence, using the author’s name within the sentence.

“The NCLC used his images in “pamphlets, books, lectures and travelling exhibits,” which according to Art Historian, Laura Leaper, arguably lead to the success of passing social legislation prohibiting child labour in 1916 (p. 510).” (Underwood p. 3)

This style is a little more personal than including the author’s name in brackets at the end of the sentence. This form introduces the author of the quotation acknowledging their occupation and area of research. I often like to use this format in the first citation from an author to properly introduce them in the essay or article. It is important to include the quotations where necessary and include the page number at the end of the sentence.

4. Direct blocked quotation introduced with a colon.

Under the act:

“the products of mines that employed children under age sixteen and factories employing children under age fourteen could not be transported by means of interstate commerce. The law also prohibited interstate shipment of products from factories that employed children under age sixteen for more than eight hours a day, for more than six days any week, or at night. Violation of the law constituted a criminal misdemeanor for which factories could be fined” (Ross p. 1). (Underwood p. 4)

When using quotes longer than 3 lines it is a good rule of thumb to introduce them using a colon and indent the large quote following the bracketed citation. Large quotations like this should be used sparingly.

5. Paraphrased quotation, starting with author name, embedded in the grammar of the sentence.

“Rosenblum highlights that at the Ethical Culture School in New York he used the camera as a learning tool to counteract the negative ideas among many American against immigrants (p. 377). (Underwood p. 2)

This quotation is used to show just how important it is when paraphrasing to make citations. In this paraphrase it is made clear at the beginning of the sentence that this is not the original thought of the author (myself), by using the cited author’s name to introduce the paraphrase.


Why?

One thing that is important to remember when using quotations is to ask yourself why this citation is important. At times writers can get caught up in the demand to make citations to ensure there is no chance for plagiarism. However, it is important to make sure that the citations are relevant to your article or essay and add support, not just word count. I like to ask myself:

  • What is this citation adding to my work?
  • Without this citation or information, does my work struggle to support my ideas?
  • Is there a more relevant citation I could use?
  • Is the format of the citation the most appropriate?

If when writing, you answer yes, than I assume you are right. Be critical of your own work and make those you are using to compare or support your ideas proud to be referenced and included in your work.

Top Ten Tips: Important Tools of Writing the Paragraph

In order to produce a well written essay, blog, story, article, or any form of traditional writing, paragraph structure is key. It is important to note the difference in types of paragraphs, specifically for academic writing styles. Most academic works can be divided into three types of paragraphs: introductory, body, and conclusion. Below I will highlight my personal favourite top ten tips for writing a paragraph.

  1. Plan out your paragraph: In order for a paragraph to be complete, planning is very important. I like to plan a paragraph similar to that of an essay and consider the paragraph a smaller version of one. A paragraph should therefore have:
    • a strong introductory sentence
    • strong body sentences supporting the introduction
    • a strong concluding sentence
  2. Brainstorm key points: After the planning process it is important to highlight the key points that the paragraph should include. These point form notes will help to form drafts or “working” sentences.
  3. Write a working strong introduction: A strong introduction sentence should capture the audience and highlight the main points of the following content.
  4. Write working strong body sentences: Sentences following the introduction should support the claims made in the introduction. These sentences should provide evidence and include citations to support the argument.
  5. Write a strong working concluding sentence: The concluding sentence in a paragraph should embody the main claims of the paragraph, summarizing and reiterating such claims.
  6. Re- read: Once the working paragraph has been developed it is important to re-read to check consistency and tone.
  7. Put emphasis on a fluent tone: It is important that a paragraph has a particular flow that will be carried out throughout the rest of the work. With working sentences there may be room to add filler sentences to make the paragraph flow more fluently.
  8. Edit: Like the entirety of a work, editing a paragraph can make or break the trust a reader has in the author. Ensuring spelling and grammatical errors are edited ensure that the reader will trust that the author knows what they are discussing and are therefore more likely to agree or see validity in their points.
  9. Write for yourself, but also your audience: With the reader in mind it is important that you adjust your style and tone for your audience. If you are writing for other academics in your field, you can write using eloquent language that is relevant to that field. However, if you are writing an article on literature for an audience that has more of a social science background, it is important that you pay attention to your word choices and ensure that certain terms that may be unfamiliar are explained. This is particularly important in Interdisciplinary studies.
  10. Have fun with your writing: Language has so much power and there are so many styles to explore. Some academic writing is fitting for a more poetic form, you can explore word play, use humour, and be excited about your topic. It is easy to get lost in the research, which can make academic writing very dull and disengage the audience. If you are having fun writing your paragraphs, so will your audience (in most cases).