Poster Competitions: Teaching Effective Scholarly Communication

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Goates, Michael C.; Nelson, Gregory M.; Frost, Megan; Johnston, Jed
poster competitions; scholarly communication; undergraduate research; Library and Information Science; Scholarly Communication
poster description
BACKGROUND: Scholarly communication is at the heart of science. Poster sessions are a time honored method of presenting research results in a visually appealing, concise format. However, designing scientific posters that are both informative and easy to navigate can be a daunting task, even for the most experienced researcher. What role does the academic library play to help students learn the artful skill of conveying complex scientific results in a clear and succinct poster presentation? METHODS: Librarians from Brigham Young University sponsored a research poster competition for undergraduate students in the life sciences. As part of the competition, poster judges provided students with direct feedback related to their poster design and its effectiveness in communicating a clear and concise message to their intended audience. In conjunction with the poster competition, the librarians also hosted a series of poster design classes to assist student researchers in creating posters that were both visually appealing and effective at conveying complex scientific information in an engaging and easy to understand manner. RESULTS: The poster competition provided a useful venue for students to present their research findings to other students and faculty mentors. It also allowed students an opportunity to practice explaining their research in terms more understandable to a general academic audience. Formal and informal competition feedback helps students improve their scientific communication skills, both in poster design and verbal explanation. CONCLUSIONS: Student researchers typically need additional support communicating complex scientific findings. At academic institutions, librarians and other educators can facilitate hands-on learning opportunities to improve student scientific information literacy and communication.