How to Effectively Communicate Data & Research Results


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Presented by: Donna L. Vogel, MD, Ph.D.

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  • Book: Mastering the Teaching of Adults (1991)
    Sequential: Clear outline & progressn. Overview, sense of organization, transitions in logical fashion
    Practical: Give a reason, a clear straightforward purpose statement at the beginning. Don’t make them think of it.
    Intuitive: Like to figure out for themselves. Allow them to invest their time and energy and they will buy in (believe).
    Ask questions. If no one answers, wait, then answer yourself.
    BREAK - Black screen - Introduce and do VARK Questionnaire here
  • ASK THEM: Why do we speak?
    Examples: Visibility, Job seminar, Get feedback, Get practice, Enjoy teaching, required by department
  • ASK THEM: Why do we go to talks?
    Interest: Learn more in own field (competitors), Expand knowledge of a new field; career - Check out potential mentor or trainee, Get visibility for yourself, attendance required, need content for for credential or advancement
  • Arrangement is related to size or group and purpose, is related to your style of presentation (example, this course vs. intersession)
  • How to Effectively Communicate Data & Research Results

    1. 1. How to Effectively Communicate Data & Research Results Donna L. Vogel, MD, PhD Director, Professional Development Office, JHMI Society of Women Engineers October 24, 2013
    2. 2. Learning Objectives: • Understand how communicating research is important in achieving a successful STEM career • Understand how to present research findings clearly and convincingly • Perceive the differences between visual and printed reports and how each is best used to to convey information
    3. 3. Planning Structure and Content Visuals Speaking vs. Writing
    4. 4. One model: Jerold Apps •Sequential – follow the outline •Practical – remember what it’s for •Intuitive – interactions, Q&A Another scheme: VARK (N. Fleming) •Visual •Aural •Read/Write •Kinesthetic •Multimodal Adult Learning Styles
    5. 5. Planning: Before You Begin Know your subject Know your purpose Know your audience Know your setting
    6. 6. Know Your Subject Everything flows from your message - the Answer to your Question Yes, you’re the expert, but - Organize your material
    7. 7. Know Your Subject Organize your knowledge Think – Telling a story Gather all information Choose a few key points Find evidence for each Think sequence: Known to new Evaluate the need to include Outline
    8. 8. One outline strategy for a talk (or poster): I. Introduction (~10% of time) II. Body (~80%) A. Key Point 1. Supporting data or example 2. Supporting data or example 3. Significance B. as A. C. as A. III. Conclusion (~10%)
    9. 9. Know Your Purpose Subject vs. Purpose -Subject: a concise statement of the content -Purpose: what is gained, accomplished Understand why you are speaking or publishing
    10. 10. Know Your Audience • How many people? • What is their purpose? • What is their level of background? • What physical materials do I want to give? • What questions can I expect?
    11. 11. Know Your Setting • What size is the room? • How will seating be arranged, fixed? • Where are the doors? • What is the lighting, controls? • How do I control the slides? • What distractions? Come early if possible acclimate; some recommend greeting attendees
    12. 12. From Outline to Talk • Keep a single theme • Check outline for logical order • Insert transitions • Mark where visuals needed • If it doesn’t all fit – Limit, don’t squeeze! • Keep some for Q and A • May make extra slides
    13. 13. Title Abstract Introduction Materials & Methods Results Discussion References Structure and Content Papers
    14. 14. Title • How they choose to read or attend • The first impression • Clear, accurate statement of content – Concise – Interesting – Appropriately limited
    15. 15. Abstract • Often all that is read – indexed on Pubmed • Must make sense alone or with the paper • Be specific and selective • Must contain: Question, experiments, results, and the Answer. • Optional: Background; implications, speculation, recommendation if part of the importance
    16. 16. Abstract: Writing • Answer question as it was asked – same verb, key terms • Verb tense – Present tense: question and answer – Past tense: experiments done and results found • Sentence structure: short • Word choice: simple
    17. 17. A word about Grant Abstracts Include a background statement to orient reader Clearly state overall hypothesis or question Note unique or novel features - why should they fund you? Articulate the relevance to the agency’s mission Give the significance of your work for the field. Get all the reviewers on your side Write for the generalist as well as the specialist Use clear language No jargon, minimal abbreviations
    18. 18. 1…,2…,3…,4…,5… Abstract Specific Aims Page 1 2 3 4 5
    19. 19. Introduction The funnel Overview – comfort zone Known, Unknown, Question State as Question or Hypothesis But must contain independent and dependent variables As short as possible while informing the reader May end with approach but not the Answer
    20. 20. Materials and Methods Shows data - but also validity Overall design – relate to your Question Subjects, patients, animals, cells, structures New or unusual equipment or process Photo, drawing, diagram Detailed experimental methods Actual measurements and assays Data analysis Use past tense Use ‘we’ (first person) if permitted
    21. 21. Results Your Answer to the Question Data and the text that describes them • Start with the Answer to your Question • Don’t start with a figure or a method. • Don’t let the reader miss an important result • State it, don’t make the reader figure it out • Usually chronological, can be in order of most to least important • Verb tense: results are in the past
    22. 22. Discussion Why should the reader believe your Answer? • State the Answer to the Question and support it • Organize as dictated by the science or importance • Assumptions – explain why they are reasonable • Experimental weaknesses • Honestly present the past evidence pro and con • When citing support, indicate why relevant to your work • For contradictions, explain why they don’t undermine your work
    23. 23. Title Introduction Methods Results and Discussion Conclusions Structure and Content Talks
    24. 24. Introduction Purpose – why you did the work Background – why your research is needed Hook – generates interest
    25. 25. Common Intro Mistakes • Beginning with an apology • Asking if they can hear you • Reading the title slide • Omitting the Intro to save time • Telling a joke – unless you are truly funny and the humor is appropriate to your talk
    26. 26. Results and Discussion • Use the “Key Points” of your outline • For each point – What is the simplest way to state it? – What examples do I have to support it? – What is the significance – What do I want them to do with the information?
    27. 27. Results - Do • Use the best evidence to support your points • Relate results to your objectives • Results are connected – Use transitions and titles to show how • Use graphics to display data
    28. 28. Results – Don’t Don’t put every datum on a slide Don’t clutter slides Don’t show information you know will be illegible
    29. 29. Conclusion- Do • Give Take-Home message • Summarize main argument, key ideas • Discuss how findings met objective – Did they support hypothesis, answer question • Discuss how findings may be used • Give something to think about
    30. 30. Conclusion- Don’t • Don’t simply restate the results • Don’t give more than 2-3 • Don’t “conclude” what you don’t support • Don’t introduce new information
    31. 31. Visuals What are visuals for? • Slides, figures, tables are evidence for your points • Use visuals where the information demands – It is better understood visually – It is important enough to reinforce visually
    32. 32. !"#$%&' ()*+, - . /&)0)1&23%&) ! " ! #$" %" %#$" &" &#$" ' " ' #$" ( " ( #$" $" $#$" ) " ) #$" *" *#$" +" ,- - ./01" 23/04/01" /025/67- " 8- 08/67- " ,9: - ; <<4" 0<,9: - ; <<4" 32 4&2, $/5)3. 637' )"7)8 "9%3' 3: )*+9&/)
    33. 33. Hours of nightly sleep according to personality type sensing
    34. 34. Slide Do’s • Decide: graphs, tables, photos… • Flow charts often good for methods • Label or title data slides using words • For text slides: Outline only, except conclusion – 7 x 7 rule • Bulleted list vs. numbers • Consistent format
    35. 35. Slide Don’ts • Don’t be seduced by PowerPoint • Minimize animation unless part of data • Limit number of slides and data per slide – No more than 1 per minute – Show only what you need for your argument • Words should never fly • Don’t use too many colors or low contrast
    36. 36. Color • • Never use red on a dark background –It projects poorly –Many people are color-blind White works in any room lighting
    37. 37. Audience • What would make another scientist interested/excited about my talk? • What information (in my talk) would another scientist be able to use? • If we don’t ask these two questions, we include slides like this . . . Total ERK PhosphoERKY202/4 PhosphoAktS473 Total Akt Figure 5. (a) Representative protein microarrays stained with antibodies for targets indicated at the right of each image. (b) A map of the case placement on the microarrays. A mini dilution curve comprised of 6 spots was printed for each case. ReferenceNormalNormalReference BRCA1ReferenceNormalBRCA1 NormalReferenceBRCA1BRCA1 NormalBRCA1ReferenceNormal Array Map ReferenceNormalNormalReference BRCA1ReferenceNormalBRCA1 NormalReferenceBRCA1BRCA1 NormalBRCA1ReferenceNormal Array Map a. b.
    38. 38. “Ideal” Slides • Limit content to main point, data or text • Background black or blue • Sans serif font • Centered title (30+ pt, yellow) • Bulleted text 20/30 pt, white, Upper/lower • Limit caps, italics, odd characters
    39. 39. Speaking vs. Writing Good Scientific Writing= Good Writing • Your Aim is clarity • Get the reader with you, not against you • See it from the reader’s viewpoint – What kind of papers do you like to read?
    40. 40. Strategy for Writing • Assemble your data • Outline a first draft • Write the first draft – get something saved Methods Results Introduction Discussion References Title Abstract • Revise for content • Revise for style – starting with paragraphs, then sentences, then words
    41. 41. Word choice • Precise not vague • Simple, not fancy or trendy • Use necessary words • Use abbreviations when the word is BOTH long or awkward AND appears often • (2-3 times in a paragraph) • If a term is VERY long, it doesn’t have to be frequent • Can use category words to describe a phrase or group • Beware of commonly misused words • Use a general prose style book such as Strunk and White
    42. 42. Sentence Structure • What’s the sentence about? Make the topic the subject. • The action is in the verb. Don’t use a noun to show action. • Other weak starts: Action given in “There is…” noun or adjective • Break up noun clusters • Write short sentences • Pronouns (they, this, that…) must clearly refer to nouns 1:1 • Use parallelism and comparisons correctly • Subject and verb must agree and make sense
    43. 43. Paragraphs • Topic Sentence • What is the paragraph about? • Without topic sentence, no sense of what paragraph is trying to say • Rest of sentences in paragraph support topic sentence • Then support or list details, • Followed by the exceptions or “con’s” • Beware of missing steps in the logic especially if you are very familiar with the subject
    44. 44. The Science of Writing (Gopen GD, Swan JA, American Scientist 78:550-558 (1990) • Readers look for information in predictable places • Readers have difficulty when – The verb is far from the subject – There is no clear topic sentence • There is no linkage to ‘old information’ • There is no context for new information – Important information is not in the “stress position” – There is a gap in the logic – The verb doesn’t state the action (…is, has…)
    45. 45. Strategy for Presenting • The listener only retains short pieces • The listener cannot go back and review • Talks must be less complex – Short sentences, familiar words, active voice – Contractions are OK but not slang – Avoid words that are obscure or hard to pronounce • You must repeat for emphasis and logic – Assume their attention will wander • Posters – A special case – must limit words!
    46. 46. Delivery Matters • Delivery should not make the listener work • Good delivery can enhance understanding • Poor delivery can undermine your credibility
    47. 47. Delivery Tips - Speech • KEY – vary inflection • Slow, simple, strong; pause for emphasis • One idea per sentence • Speak conversationally • Eliminate um, er • Write out and memorize beginning and end
    48. 48. Delivery Tips - Appearance • Give someone your beeper, phone etc. • Wear neat, comfortable, conservative clothing • Stand naturally, do not pace • Face the audience • Eye contact - forehead OK • Pick 3 friendlies; block out those asleep or rude • Limit use of the laser pointer • Gesture, don’t fidget
    49. 49. Speaking is stage acting • Overdoing it? Yes! • Show enthusiasm • Prepare and practice • Stay easily within your time
    50. 50. Take Home Message You communicate research for a purpose Skilled communication strengthens your argument