At the start of every academic year, PhD students moving from Year 1 to Year 2 of their studies are asked to prepare a poster presentation of their research to date. This year it will be held on Wednesday 30th September from 2.30 to 5pm in the Creativity Zone, a lovely modern space in Pevensey III. The programme is incredibly diverse: we have everything from cognition in lions, to tennis grunts, hypnosis, and psychosocial support in refugees.
Posters are a great way of presenting research findings in a quick and concise way. At larger international conferences, very few graduate students get selected to give oral presentations and poster sessions may be the only realistic option of presenting. These poster sessions are often in very large halls, so it is important that your poster stands out from the crowd. It needs to be visually appealing, but it also needs an informative and engaging title and abstract so that people make the effort to come and visit the poster.
Poster sessions are a good opportunity for networking. If someone in your field is presenting a poster then you have them captive to ask them questions in a relatively small gathering (it is hard to get more than 4 or 5 people around a poster at the same time). At out last PhD awayday, Dr. Eleanor Miles gave out some tips on networking and a great tip was to write to others in your field (not just senior people but other PhD students and postdocs) to encourage them to drop by your poster or to send them a copy after the event.
In our poster session there will be a prize for the best poster (voted democratically). I have previously suggested two criteria: style and substance. The poster should look appealing, not be too crowded, good use of figures, and minimal text. But having interesting and important results is, of course, important too!
The Psychology poster session is not merely a chance for the PhD students to get practice with presenting. It serves at least two other important functions. It provides an opportunity to socialise, and it provides an opportunity to learn about the research being conducted within the School. In a large school it can be very hard for everyone to get to know each other, so I set myself the more modest aim as Director of Doctoral Studies that we should at least be able to recognise our PhD students when we walk past them and have a vague idea what they work on. For our incoming PhD students, we put the poster session as an essential part of their induction. It is a good way for them to see who is who, and also think about the prospect of presenting their own poster in one years time. This year we have managed to integrate a School social into the tail end of the poster session – a Psychology Bake Off – which is very exciting!
We have a very varied line up of topics and this is set to be a fun and informative event.
I look forward to seeing you there…
Jamie Ward – Director of Doctoral Studies in Psychology