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Not only does the exercise deflate the morale of the scholars sharing posters, but the ritual is also incredibly inefficient at communicating science, Morrison argues.
Despite his eagerness, few people stopped to talk to him.
Ironically, he was presenting research on what makes work meaningful to people.
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Mike Morrison, a Ph D student in psychology at Michigan State University, says the experience turns out to be highly dispiriting.
“It’s like standing at a bar or a club and waiting for someone to talk to you—you’re thinking, ‘am I not pretty? Often the people browsing the posters avoid eye contact, so they can keep scanning the titles of the posters until they find one that seems related to their own work.
So Morrison designed a splashy social-media rollout of his template. “Watch this cartoon to see a new, faster approach to designing research posters. #betterposter.” Since then the tweet, and the video, have gone viral, with more than 3,000 retweets and 200,000 video views. ”Use of the template appears to be spreading from discipline to discipline with each new conference.
He spent a year—in his spare time on nights and weekends—producing a 20-minute animated video explaining the problem with research posters and why people should try his idea. Just weeks after he released his design, a researcher in Canada became one of the first to try it out. In Twitter and You Tube comments, some researchers said Morrison was dumbing down the science and missing the point of poster presentations, which they say is to show all the work on the board so that peers can have a conversation at the conference about all the fine points. A blog about the design of scientific posters (yes, there are blogs devoted to this) offered some detailed suggestions for small modifications to the design.
In March, he posted the video on You Tube, with a link underneath pointing to a webpage where anyone can download his poster template. Eugene Ofosu, a social psychology graduate student at Mc Gill University, presented a research poster at the 2019 Mental Health and Law Conference using Morrison’s template. “They said, ‘You’re turning science into a meme,” said Morrison. Morrison has already incorporated some of those changes in a new version of template.
In fact, he has been releasing new updates frequently, as if the template was a piece of software needing regular improvements.