Collaboration Workshop


Published on

These slides are from a 4 hour workshop I gave on how to collaborate in science. They are taken from a Professional Development series of lectures I give at the University of California San Diego and are in turn taken from the Ten Simple Rules series which I have published in PLoS Computational Biology. Most of the rules are general and apply to all branches of science.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Collaboration Workshop

  1. 1. Collaboration Workshop Thoughts for Young Scientists on How Best to Collaborate Philip E. Bourne Much of the material presented here is draw from the PLoS Ten Simple Rules Collection Available Here 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  2. 2. Intended Goal • Take away some pointers for how you can enrich your scientific career through interaction with others. That interaction is in turn dependent upon such issues as: – Doing the best science – Knowing how to collaborate – Communicating that science: • Writing good papers • Giving good talks • Making and presenting effective posters • Making the most of informal interactions – Being involved (societies, user groups, data depositor, curator etc.) • We will spend time on each of these 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  3. 3. Intended Audience • Graduate students • Postdoctoral fellows • Research scientists • Early stage faculty • Well anyone willing to listen really 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  4. 4. How Did I Arrive at My Perspective? • BS, BS (Hon.), PhD in chemistry at same provincial Australian university • 2 good postdocs in Europe and the US doing structural biology • Left academia (sort of) for the IT world for 12 years • 15 years in academia – Research Scientist, Adjunct Prof., Prof. • Immersed myself in an emerging discipline (bioinformatics/comp biol) • Pursue many diverse research interests (good or bad?) 411/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  5. 5. A Pot-pourri of What I Have Learnt Over the Years (the Bottom Line for You) • Do cutting edge science (ie pick the right problems) • Do it with the best people • Let your heart guide you not your head • If you are not excited every day by what you are doing you are doing the wrong thing • Never be intimidated • Plan to have impact 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  6. 6. How Did This Workshop Come About? • About 5 years ago the student council of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) asked me to give them a lecture on how to get published based on my new role of EIC of PLoS Comp. Biol. • The exchange that took place was one of the most fun lectures I have ever given • In trying to capture that moment I wrote an Editorial “Ten Simple Rules for Getting Published” … 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  7. 7. How Did This Workshop Come About? • It was downloaded a large number of times • Folks started to approach me with other ideas for Ten Simple Rules • To date there is a “Ten Rules” series downloadable from php • This became a graduate student course at UCSD and is accompanied by on-line versions of some of the lectures • I now get asked to give these workshops in various forums eg annual conferences 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  8. 8. Okay Enough Background .. Lets Get Started .. To State the Obvious More Scientists are Going to Want to Collaborate with You if You are Doing Interesting Work 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  9. 9. Doing Your Best Research – A Philosophical Perspective Adapted from Richard Hamming and Stated as Ten Simple Rules • Richard Hamming 1915 – 1998 • Mathematician • Know to many of us for the Hamming Distance • Winner of the Turing Award from 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop •
  10. 10. Warning • This part of the workshop is like being on the couch • Subsequent parts provide more tangible advice 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  11. 11. Basic Question for Today as Asked by Hamming in his 1986 Lecture ‘‘You and Your Research’’ How can you do Nobel Prize winning Research? 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  12. 12. Rule 1 – Be Honest with Yourself • If you are sitting here sincerely not wanting to win a Nobel Prize then you are probably wasting your time • If you do not want to win a Nobel Prize (or have some equivalent driver) you will not succeed • It is no good just wanting to be a me too you must want to make a difference 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  13. 13. Rule 2 – Prepare Your Mind • Winning a Nobel Prize is not a matter of luck • You not winning the Nobel Prize is not the fault of others • Face up to your shortcomings and work out how to overcome them either by your own efforts or in collaboration with the efforts of others 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  14. 14. Rule 3 – Age is Important • You are smarter when you are younger but less experienced • The foundation for your success will likely come from your work at an early stage – 20’s to mid 30’s – There are exceptions e.g., the field of study may not have existed when you were that old • Experience will help you successfully build on that body of work 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  15. 15. Rule 4 - Brains Are Not Enough, You Also Need Courage • This could perhaps be interpreted as ego • You need to strongly voice an opinion you believe in, even when everyone is against you • The irony is that research is about innovation, yet at the same time the scientific community is very conservative • You need to keep pushing those ideas orally and in print 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  16. 16. Rule 5 - Make the Best of Your Working Conditions • ‘‘It is a poor workman who blames his tools— the good man gets on with the job, given what he’s got, and gets the best answer he can.’’ • The workplace is not about a fancy foyer it is about a place that fosters discourse and stimulates you e.g., MRC Cambridge • If the working conditions are not good find new ones soon or contribute to making them better 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  17. 17. Rule 6 - Work Hard and Effectively • ‘‘Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime.’’ • “Hard work alone is not enough—it must be applied sensibly.” • The person that spends the most hours in the lab. is often not the best • Time management skills are critical • To work hard like this requires real passion that comes from the heart not the head 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  18. 18. Rule 7 - Believe and Doubt Your Hypothesis at the Same Time • ‘‘When you find apparent flaws, you’ve got to be sensitive and keep track of those things, and keep an eye out for how they can be explained or how the theory can be changed to fit them. Those are often the great scientific contributions” • You must see the big picture – it is oh so easy not too • If your hypothesis is proven wrong know when to move on 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  19. 19. Rule 8 - Work on the Important Problems in Your Field • “If you want to do great work, you clearly must work on important problems. . . . I finally adopted what I called ‘Great Thoughts Time.’ When I went to lunch Friday noon, I would only discuss great thoughts after that. By great thoughts I mean ones like: ‘What will be the impact of computers on science and how can I change it?’’’ • Talk is cheap - So what are my current great thoughts? – Improve science dissemination and comprehension through openness and rich content – Really understand using computational and systems biology what happens when we take a drug – Change the way evolution is studied so that we can: • Further prove we are a product of our environment • Understand the evolution of proteins through their structures • I dare you to go back and ask your PI what are her/his current great thoughts Collaboration Workshop11/19/10
  20. 20. Rule 9 - Be Committed to Your Problem • Success comes from the heart not the head • ‘‘So the way to manage yourself is that when you have a real important problem you don’t let anything else get the center of your attention—you keep your thoughts on the problem. Keep your subconscious starved so it has to work on your problem, so you can sleep peacefully and get the answer in the morning, free.’’ 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  21. 21. Rule 10 - Leave Your Door Open • ‘‘There is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work on slightly the wrong thing—not much, but enough that they miss fame” • The door is a metaphor – be open to every idea and person in your field – you cant do it alone 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  22. 22. 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop Discussion/Questions?
  23. 23. Okay so now lets assume you are working on the most interesting problems in a stimulating environment. Collaborations will likely come your way. How should you respond? 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop • .
  24. 24. Intended Goal • Take away some pointers for how you can enrich your scientific career through interaction with others. That interaction is in turn dependent upon such issues as: – Doing the best science – Knowing how to collaborate – Communicating that science: • Writing good papers • Giving good talks, • Making and presenting effective posters, • Making the most of informal interactions – Being involved (societies, user groups, data depositor, curator etc.) • We will spend time on each of these 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  25. 25. Collaboration Workshop Establishing a Successful Collaboration PLoS Comp. Biol. 3(3): e44 11/19/10
  26. 26. Collaboration Workshop My Bias • I don’t like projects where I feel like I am a cog in a wheel • Do not think I am particularly good at collaboration • When I have a collaboration it is usually a long one 11/19/10
  27. 27. Collaboration Workshop My Publication Web
  28. 28. Collaboration Workshop Experiences • Ilya Shindyalov (Research - grants) – 29 papers • Helen Berman (PDB - contract) – 11 papers • Jeff Lakey (Reviews) – 14 reviews • Lei Xie (Research – grants) 13 papers • Worked with someone seriously effected by a bad collaboration Collaborations come in different forms and require different rules 11/19/10
  29. 29. Collaboration Workshop Over Arching Thoughts … • From 1981 to 2001 the average number of authors on a paper rose from 3.9 to 8.4 • Funding (e.g., NIH Roadmap is making us be collaborative; Janelia Farm) • Nothing in Professional Development makes sense, except in the light of evolution - collaboration provided an evolutionary advantage • Collaboration can be fun or a drag • Some collaborators become life long friends • Some collaborations never get off the ground 2911/19/10
  30. 30. Collaboration Workshop Over Arching Thoughts … • Your success as a scientist depends very much on what other scientists think of your work and of you personally so… • They must know you personally – that often comes through collaboration • They must know you to have integrity 3011/19/10
  31. 31. Collaboration Workshop Over Arching Thoughts • “The scale and complexity of today's biomedical research problems demand that scientists move beyond the confines of their individual disciplines and explore new organizational models for team science. Advances in molecular imaging, for example, require collaborations among diverse groups— radiologists, cell biologists, physicists, and computer programmers.” —National Institutes of Health Roadmap Initiative • Sean Eddy – The individual is the interdisciplinary team PLoS Comp Biol 1(1) e6 3111/19/10
  32. 32. Collaboration Workshop Rule 1 – Pick Collaborations Carefully • Do not be lured by money • Do not be lured by a famous co-investigator • Be lured by a shared passion in the science • Consider all aspects of the collaboration – will it make a difference to my long term goals? Do I have the experience? Do I like the team? Can I deliver on time? 11/19/10
  33. 33. Collaboration Workshop Rule 2 – Decide Early • Early delegation of responsibilities is priceless • For a grant revisit the specific aims regularly • Consider an MOU • Discuss expectations for authorship early • Do not blind sight them with related publications – tell collaborators in the formative stages • Be comfortable early not uncomfortable late 11/19/10
  34. 34. Collaboration Workshop Rule 3 – Stick to Your Tasks • Do not digress from the agreed upon questions to be addressed without prior discussion with your collaborators • Do not just think your collaborators will be pleased with your change of emphasis 11/19/10
  35. 35. Collaboration Workshop Rule 4 – Be Open and Honest • Share all data, protocols, materials etc. • Holding things to your chest may be a short term advantage but it is a long term disadvantage – it relates to integrity • Be available but have your collaborator understand your availability 11/19/10
  36. 36. Collaboration Workshop Rule 5 – Mutual Respect is a Must • If you do not respect the scientific work of a potential collaborator – do not collaborate • Respect can change as a collaboration progresses – look for signs of change • Examples of mutual respect: – Advanced notice when you cant make a deadline – Open dialog about your limitations for a given task – Discussing being approached by others to collaborate on related issues 11/19/10
  37. 37. Collaboration Workshop Rule 6 – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate • Face-to-face is best, followed by video, followed by telephone, followed by email – email is asynchronous and brings out unseen personality traits • Shared project documents are good e.g. Google docs • Use scientific meetings for face-to-face – you can justify the cost and get other benefits 11/19/10
  38. 38. Collaboration Workshop Rule 7 – Protect Yourself from a Collaboration That Turns Sour • Projects often do not work out as planned – both you and your collaborators should have a mutually agreed upon Plan B before it is needed • Be sympathetic to life changes that impact a collaboration • If things do not work out think carefully how the impact on your career can be minimized 11/19/10
  39. 39. Collaboration Workshop Rule 8 – Always Acknowledge and Cite Your Collaborators • This applies to preliminary results • This applies even when you are not happy with the collaboration IF the collaborator has contributed anything at all • Make it clear who is responsible for what 11/19/10
  40. 40. Collaboration Workshop Rule 9 – Seek Advice from Experienced Scientists • Collaborations always present challenges • Use mentors to help resolve challenges – they have likely been there done that • Challenges can on occasion lead to major breakthroughs – do not give up too easily 11/19/10
  41. 41. Collaboration Workshop Rule 10 – Keep Good Collaborations Going • Why did Shindyalov and Bourne publish so many papers together? • Why did it end? 11/19/10
  42. 42. Lets Analyze Photograph 51 As One Highly Visible Collaboration 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  43. 43. 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop 43 Discussion/Questions?
  44. 44. Collaborations Often Start Through Science You Have Already Communicated. It Follows the Better You Communication Your Science the More Collaborations You Can Foster 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  45. 45. Intended Goal • Take away some pointers for how you can enrich your scientific career through interaction with others. That interaction is in turn dependent upon such issues as: – Doing the best science – Knowing how to collaborate – Communicating that science: • Writing good papers • Giving good talks, • Making and presenting effective posters, • Making the most of informal interactions – Being involved (societies, user groups, data depositor, curator etc.) • We will spend time on each of these 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  46. 46. Collaboration Workshop Writing the Best Scientific Paper PLoS Comp. Biol. 1(5): e57 11/19/10
  47. 47. Collaboration Workshop Overarching Thoughts … • Your publications are the most important metric by which you are judged as a scientist • That metric is increasingly easy to measure – H factor (ISI Web of Science) – Number of citations (ISI, Google Scholar) – Journal downloads • Your papers will be around long after you are gone – they are your scientific legacy • Think about that immutability as you write • Numbers (regrettably) are important 4711/19/10
  48. 48. Collaboration Workshop Overarching Thoughts Quality is Everything 11/19/10
  49. 49. Collaboration Workshop Personal Experiences • Have one of the most cited papers in the biological sciences (~10,000) – hardly anyone has ever read it • Have papers that are highly read (as judged by downloads) but never cited • The work I am proudest of is not the most cited • As an Editor you see a lot of papers – both good and bad • Even the best scientists write bad papers - they just know how to work the system better 4911/19/10
  50. 50. Collaboration Workshop Emerging Metrics - Gerwick
  51. 51. Collaboration Workshop Emerging Metrics - Bourne
  52. 52. Collaboration Workshop Acknowledgement • The following is a rework of the Ten Rules for Getting Published PLoS Comput Biol 1(5): e57 (there is a rule here - you can always improve your work) • Notes from Bill Gerwick “Writing a Research Publication – 21 Suggestions” which he has prepared for students 11/19/10
  53. 53. Collaboration Workshop Rule 1 – To Write You Have to Read • Read at least 2 papers per day in detail • Review papers through journal clubs and take note of the reviews of others • Put aside papers you and others think are of high quality to refer to as you write even if they are not related to the topic • Look at papers which have open review – learn to write better papers from those reviews • Take lessons from ml 11/19/10
  54. 54. Collaboration Workshop Rule 2 – Learn to be Objective About Your Work • The best scientists are the most objective • It is easy not to be objective when you have buried yourself in it for months on end – see your work in a broader context – how will it impact science as a whole • It is easier for your mentor to be objective (it is only one of a number of projects going on in the lab) but still.. • Have independent colleagues who can be objective review your first draft 11/19/10
  55. 55. Collaboration Workshop Rule 3 – Pick the Right Journal • In order of Priority: 1. Do you read that journal? 2. The quality of the journal as defined by impact factor, Editorial Board and quality of reviews 3. Be realistic about where the work can be published – it will save time and frustration 4. The journal with the readership that is closest to your work 5. Go open access (personal comment) • Use the pre-submission system to be sure it is the right journal 11/19/10
  56. 56. Collaboration Workshop Rule 4 – Learn to Write Well • This is critical to being a good scientist – it is not just about grammar, but comprehension • Take classes to improve your writing skills • This is valuable whatever your career path as you will need to present complex ideas clearly, logically and to a broad audience whatever in whatever you do • This will lead to less rejection and less rounds of editing • Copyediting is on the decline – your mistakes will be left in the literature 11/19/10
  57. 57. Collaboration Workshop Rule 5 – Learn to Live with Rejection • Being objective makes rejection easier • Even the best scientists get rejected frequently • Failure to do so has adversely impacted very good scientists • If all of the reviewers think you have written a poor paper – 9 times out of 10 you have – move on 11/19/10
  58. 58. Collaboration Workshop Rule 6 – Learn to Use the Review Process to Your Advantage • Good reviews will improve the paper significantly • Respond to all the points made by the reviewers • Do so in a polite and non-antagonistic way – particularly when the reviewer has not understood your point – consider it your fault not theirs • Respond in a way that is easy for the reviewer to comprehend: – Address every point head on in the response letter to the editor – Make it easy for the reviewer to see where you made changes e.g. with tracking 11/19/10
  59. 59. Collaboration Workshop Rule 7 – You Know the Rules for Good Science – Do Not Ignore Them • Novelty • Comprehensive coverage of the literature to establish your motivation and hypothesis • Good data and appropriate analysis • A though provoking discussion 11/19/10
  60. 60. Collaboration Workshop Rule 8 – Even if You Obey Rule 7 the Message Can be Lost If.. • The paper is poorly organized – think logical flow not a blow-by-blow – think scholarship • There is not the appropriate use of figures and tables • The manuscript is not of the right length • You are not writing to the intended audience • You do not obey (to the letter) the Guide to Authors – particularly important for the methods section • The title does not convey the message • You overstate your case with words like “novel”, “new” and a host of other adjectives 11/19/10
  61. 61. Collaboration Workshop Rule 9 – Start Writing the Paper on Day 1 (Arguable) • Make a good bibliographic database to draw from as you go • Decide on the journal in which you will publish early • This implies the end result is a paper and not a new finding/knowledge – get real! • Draw up an outline • Structure the paper around the major results as found in figures and tables • Starting early makes it easier to finish – being the best at doing research is not enough – the world needs to know about it • As a PhD student this also implies you are writing your thesis as you do the work 11/19/10
  62. 62. Collaboration Workshop Rule 10 – Become a Reviewer Early in Your Career • Have your mentors give you the papers they are reviewing – write a review and discuss with your mentor to improve your reviewing • Look at the reviews others have written • Understand the review process – EIC, AEs, reviewers • This will allow you to see your work in a new light 11/19/10
  63. 63. Collaboration Workshop 63 Discussion/Questions? 11/19/10
  64. 64. Intended Goal • Take away some pointers for how you can enrich your scientific career through interaction with others. That interaction is in turn dependent upon such issues as: – Doing the best science – Knowing how to collaborate – Communicating that science: • Writing good papers • Giving good talks • Making and presenting effective posters, • Making the most of informal interactions – Being involved (societies, user groups, data depositor, curator etc.) • We will spend time on each of these 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  65. 65. Collaboration Workshop Giving Good Oral Presentations PLoS Comp. Biol. 3(4): e77 6511/19/10
  66. 66. Collaboration Workshop My Bias • Given lots of talks – both good and bad – 31 plenary and keynotes in the past 3 years • Talked to between 5 – 5000 people • Talked on television • Talked on many subjects both science and IT • Talked to many different audiences – 3rd graders (most scary), investors, Nobel Laureates 11/19/10
  67. 67. Collaboration Workshop Experiences • Sydney Brenner • Dorothy Hodgkin • David Searls • Francis Crick 11/19/10
  68. 68. Collaboration Workshop Over Arching Thoughts … • The science you are talking about is more important than the talk • Being a good speaker is a key element of being a good scientist • The best speakers are often the best scientists • Talk for yourself as well as others – talk to get feedback on your work and use it • If you are passionate about what you do your talks will be more compelling and enjoyable 6811/19/10
  69. 69. Collaboration Workshop Over Arching Thoughts • Work within the bounds of your personality • If you get no questions you screwed up • Even after what I am about to tell you sometimes I feel I give bad talks and I do not know why • Conversely sometimes I worry about giving a talk and it turns out much better than I expected • You should be able to give the same talk without visual aids 11/19/10
  70. 70. Collaboration Workshop How Do I know I Gave a Good Talk? • You get invited back to talk • You get invited to talk by someone in the audience • Audience members follow up with you days or weeks later • People are not asleep or reading email 11/19/10
  71. 71. Collaboration Workshop Rule 1 – Tell the Audience What They Want to Hear • Talk at a level of detail that matches the expertise of the audience • Do not talk up e.g. by saying “this is not my expertise but..” if it is not your expertise they do not want to hear it • Do not talk down in a condescending tone • Figure out who your audience will be before you prepare one slide 11/19/10
  72. 72. Collaboration Workshop Rule 2 – Less is More • Do not try and say too much – your message will be lost • Be clear and concise – use visuals to help with this • Your knowledge will come across – do not try and tell the audience everything you know • No more than one slide per minute max. • Too many slides and you tend to talk to quickly – the message will be lost 11/19/10
  73. 73. Collaboration Workshop Rule 3 – Only Talk When You Have Something to Say • Your time is precious – the audiences time is yours x the number of people in the audience – Do not waste it with preliminary material 11/19/10
  74. 74. Collaboration Workshop Rule 4 – Make the Take Home Message Persistent • Test – Ask audience members a week later what they remember from your talk .. If – They remember more that 3 points … no one will – They remember 3 points you regard as key – well done – If they remember 1-3 points but they were not key somehow your emphasis was wrong – They say “what talk” .. Figure that out for yourself 11/19/10
  75. 75. Collaboration Workshop Rule 5 – Tell a Story • People (that includes scientists) love a story • Include a human element i.e. make it different to a paper • Stories have beginnings that set the stage reveal the characters etc. • Stories have middles (the experiment and its results perhaps) • Stories have a big ending, often a surprise one 11/19/10
  76. 76. Collaboration Workshop Rule 6 – Treat the Floor as a Stage • Entertain the audience – think ahead of time what will keep their attention and make them enjoy listening • Do not use techniques that are not in your personality. If you are not humorous by nature don’t try and start in front of an audience ditto telling anecdotes 11/19/10
  77. 77. Collaboration Workshop Rule 7 – Practice and Time Your Presentation • Practice will avoid going off on tangents – this can be dangerous – message is lost, don’t get to the big finish, talk about stuff that you know little about… • Practice with colleagues before the big audience – they will think kinder thoughts if you screw up • Practice speaking through journal club, group meetings etc. 11/19/10
  78. 78. Collaboration Workshop Rule 8 - Slides • Do not read the slide unless you wish to emphasize a point • Slides are a backup for what you are saying • Look at them on the big screen before the audience does • Focus on content not glitz • Avoid information overload • Use animations sparingly and effectively • Use navigation tricks 11/19/10
  79. 79. Collaboration Workshop Rule 9 – Video or at Least Audio Your Practice Presentations and Review (Declared Conflict) • This is a very telling way of seeing bad habits e.g., umming and ahhring, scratching your head (or worse) …. • Work hard to correct those habits 11/19/10
  80. 80. Collaboration Workshop Rule 10 – Provide Appropriate Acknowledgements • This is important – Do not run out of time and so not do it • Acknowledge as you go • Use pictures • Acknowledge people you anticipate will be in the audience who have contributed • Include important references 11/19/10
  81. 81. Collaboration Workshop Additional Thoughts on Slides… • A picture really is worth a lot of words • Spend time on preparing persistent (e.g. introductory slides you will use over) slides – it is a rewarding experience and a skill worth developing • As much as possible a slide should have an understandable message on its own – Its might end up in Google images after all 11/19/10
  82. 82. Collaboration Workshop Additional Thoughts on Slides • Reuse slides to emphasize a point • Provide a roadmap – Navigation on the bottom of the screen – Returning to the agenda indicating the point you are going to discuss next – Use recap slides – On the Web 11/19/10
  83. 83. Collaboration Workshop 83 Discussion/Questions? 11/19/10
  84. 84. Intended Goal • Take away some pointers for how you can enrich your scientific career through interaction with others. That interaction is in turn dependent upon such issues as: – Doing the best science – Knowing how to collaborate – Communicating that science: • Writing good papers • Giving good talks • Making and presenting effective posters • Making the most of informal interactions – Being involved (societies, user groups, data depositor, curator etc.) • We will spend time on each of these 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  85. 85. Collaboration Workshop Preparing and Presenting Posters PLoS Comp. Biol. 3(5): e102 8511/19/10
  86. 86. Collaboration Workshop My Bias • Have not personally made a poster for a long time • Encourage lab members to make posters and review their content – they need at least a poster to go to a conference • Encourage lab members to make “postercasts” • Post them on the walls after too 11/19/10
  87. 87. Collaboration Workshop Experiences • Given posters that have not generated a great deal of interest • Done “Statement posters” as well as research posters • Done “booth duty” with Sun Microsystems 11/19/10
  88. 88. Collaboration Workshop Over Arching Thoughts … • Posters are a key element of scientific communication and dissemination • Big names can be seen giving posters • They are different than other forms of communication and require special consideration • Snapshot of your current research • For a graduate student they are a major facet of your ability to interact • “Postercasts” make posters persistent (not always desirable) 8811/19/10
  89. 89. Collaboration Workshop Over Arching Thoughts • Should be a standalone experience if you are not there • If you are there engage people not intimidate them • Life long collaborations can start in front of a poster • Poster prizes count on your resume 11/19/10
  90. 90. Collaboration Workshop Rule 1 – Define the Purpose • Report latest unpublished work (most frequent) • Report a summary of a body of work • Specifically find collaborators • Spend the appropriate time depending on the longevity of the poster • Figure it being on an institutional wall after the meeting 11/19/10
  91. 91. Collaboration Workshop Rule 2 – Sell Your Work in 10 Seconds • You will likely be one of hundreds of posters – you need to fight for attention • Catch the attention of the person ambling by both with the written word and your elevator pitch • Consider casting your work in the form of addressing an important question which is prominent on your poster 11/19/10
  92. 92. Collaboration Workshop Rule 3 – The Title is Important • It may be the only thing the attendee sees before visiting the poster session • A title is your equivalent of a newspaper headline – short sharp and compelling • Unlike a newspaper headline it should not oversell your work • Make it understandable to a broad audience 11/19/10
  93. 93. Collaboration Workshop Rule 4 – Poster Acceptance Means Nothing • Poster acceptance usually says nothing about the scientific content – conferences need attendees – attendees can often only go if they are presenting – speaking slots are limited - enter posters • Follow up from a poster means everything – do good science and present it well 11/19/10
  94. 94. Collaboration Workshop Rule 5 – Note Similarities to Giving Good Talks and Writing Good Papers • Know your audience – provide the appropriate scope (breadth) and depth • Follow the proven formula for research – State the hypothesis to be tested and why – Show the major result – What does that say about your hypothesis – Conclude with what is next 11/19/10
  95. 95. Collaboration Workshop Rule 6 – Note the Differences to Research Papers • Message needs to be distilled but logical flow maintained • Posters (at least for now) allow you to be more speculative – they are not immutable • Use the poster as an attractant for other materials – supplementary information, reprints etc. 11/19/10
  96. 96. Collaboration Workshop Rule 7 – Layout and Format are Important (more on this when we review posters) • Remember the phrase “eye catching” • There is no need to cover every inch – guide the eye to the most relevant points • Unlike a research article a poster is not a sequential medium – guide the viewer through the logical sequence with numbers arrows, colored boxes etc. • Look at other posters to get ideas not on content but layout • Never use less than a 24-point font • Make sure the main points are at eye-level 11/19/10
  97. 97. Collaboration Workshop Rule 8 – Content Must Be Concise • Every aspect of the poster must convey the main message • Be clear concise and brief • Use pictorials as much as possible • Highlight the main points of those pictorials – e.g. bold emphasis, color coding in tables and figures • The abstract should say more than a paper abstract – it may go into an abstract book 11/19/10
  98. 98. Collaboration Workshop Rule 9 – Posters Should Reflect Your Personality • Unlike a paper a poster does not have to be dry and impersonal • Include a photo so you can be spotted even when you are not at the poster • Have the photo of you doing a hobby etc. – it starts the conversation also collaborations start often for non-scientific reasons • A viewer will likely remember more about you that your poster 11/19/10
  99. 99. Collaboration Workshop Rule 10 – The Impact of a Poster Happens Both During and After the Poster Session … • Work the crowd by being engaging, but not too engaging – one engaged viewer will attract others • Work all the audience at once – maintain eye contact with everyone • Make it easy for attendees to contact you after • For mature posters – have the poster on-line and accessible via a URL 11/19/10
  100. 100. Collaboration Workshop Rule 10 – The Impact of a Poster Happens Both During and After the Poster Session • Leave the attendee space and time • Have a sign-up sheet attached to your poster 11/19/10
  101. 101. Collaboration Workshop Additional Thoughts • What is right and wrong with the following posters? 11/19/10
  102. 102. Collaboration Workshop Closing Thoughts on What NOT to Do.. • Just assume yours is the best poster • Ignore the instructions on poster size etc. • Assume content is all that is important • How you mount the poster does not matter • Do not use dark backgrounds • Do not stimulate the reader’s senses with many random colors 11/19/10
  103. 103. Collaboration Workshop Closing Thoughts on What NOT to Do • Require the reader stand for ½ hr 1cm from your poster • Have long titles in small font • Have the authors names and institution be the dominant visual • Invite collaboration through physical proximity • Require rigorous physical exercise to follow the logic of the poster 11/19/10
  104. 104. Collaboration Workshop 104 Discussion/Questions? 11/19/10
  105. 105. Intended Goal • Take away some pointers for how you can enrich your scientific career through interaction with others. That interaction is in turn dependent upon such issues as: – Doing the best science – Knowing how to collaborate – Communicating that science: • Writing good papers • Giving good talks • Making and presenting effective posters • Making the most of informal interactions – Being involved (societies, user groups, data depositor, curator etc.) • We will spend time on each of these 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop
  106. 106. Being Involved? General Discussion 11/19/10 Collaboration Workshop