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Scholars around the world share their latest research findings with a decidedly low-tech ritual: printing a 48-inch by 36-inch poster densely packed with charts and graphs, and accompanied by blocks of text describing their research hypothesis, methods and findings.Then they stand in an exhibit hall for an hour, surrounded by rows of other researchers presenting similar posters, while hundreds of colleagues from around the world walk by trying to skim the displays.
“It’s not just frustration that’s on the line, it’s human progress itself,” he says.
Morrison says he has a solution: A better design for those posters, plus a dash of tech.
“It’s very complicated material,” she says of her research.
Plus, she says, presenting as much information as possible is “the norm in our department.” But she will consider adopting at least some of Morrison’s ideas, like using the QR code to send people to the full paper.
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.
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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.
And the stakes are high, since the posters could potentially connect scholars to findings or approaches that could help them speed up their own discoveries to, say, cure a disease faster.