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Resources for oral and poster presentations in science

I am scheduled for my first department presentation next monday the 24th.  Although this will be an informal presentation, it inevitably requires a good deal of fiddling with the outline, a great deal of reading, and finally a small bit of nerves in anticipation of standing in front of your peers and colleagues within the field.  Presenting an oral, written or visual explanation of your research is a necessary and valuable part of the scientific process.  As I experienced at the 2010 AGU conference and through reading Randy Olson’s recent book, public speaking and communication (in general) is a unique skill required of a scientist.

It is both an honor and responsibility to be amongst a group of fellow scientists as an invited speaker.  As a graduate student, I believe it is extremely important to take advantage of each opportunity to speak whether formally or informally.  Therefore, I hope these resources will help myself and others to improve our presentations and provide succinct and well designed presentations.  Feel free to leave comments and suggestions if you would like to share related resources.

A few years ago I came across Dr. Purrington’s excellent guidelines for putting together oral and poster presentations.

This great advice is applicable to many fields for different levels of research.  I really enjoy Dr. Purrington’s approach to tackling this subject.  There is also an extremely useful flickr group which allows you to fearlessly post your poster image (in progress or finished) and receive constructive comments.  I find that is the hardest part to constructing either an oral or poster presentation – the feedback part! Sometimes I wish that I had placed an anonymous comment envelope next to my poster or allowed people to give feedback after a presentation.

  • I’d also like to highlight an invaluable resource in the field of oceanography – presented by The Oceanography Society: TOS Scientifically Speaking . This is an excellent reference point for both early and established career scientists.  I prefer to consider the points outlined in this guide as the gold standard of expectations within my field.  I have shared printed versions and pdf’s of this booklet with students as well as colleagues over the years since it was produced.   I highly recommend this guide to students of all ages now that we are expected to facilitate electronic presentations and materials

R: read.delim2 .txt file and calulate mean of 5 classes

################################################################################
# MC TEST data set by H.Wright                                                 |
#                                                                              |
#                                                                              | 
################################################################################
# set working directory file path
setwd("D:\\Projects\\R_analysis\\mc_30.12.2010\\")
# load the test marechiara dataset 
read.delim2 (file="D:\\Projects\\R_analysis\\mc_30.12.2010\\mc_test1.txt", 
          na.strings = "NA", 
          nrows = -1,
          skip = 0, 
          check.names = TRUE, 
          strip.white = FALSE, 
          blank.lines.skip = TRUE)
# assign data table to object 'mc' 
mc<-(read.delim2  (file="D:\\Projects\\R_analysis\\mc_30.12.2010\\mc_test1.txt", 
          na.strings = "NA", 
          nrows = -1, 
          skip = 0, 
          check.names = TRUE, 
          strip.white = FALSE, 
          blank.lines.skip = TRUE))
# obtain the data table column variables
names(mc)
#[1] "year"    "Acartia.clausi"     "Acartia.danae"      "Acartia.discaudata" "Acartia.longiremis" "Acartia.margalefi"      
 
#define variables in object mc
  col2 <-mc$Acartia.clausi
  col3 <-mc$Acartia.danae
  col4 <-mc$Acartia.discaudata
  col5 <-mc$Acartia.longiremis
  col6 <-mc$Acartia.margalefi
#take the mean of each variable
     mean(col2)
          mean(col3)
               mean(col4)
                    mean(col5)
                         mean(col6)

Created by Pretty R at inside-R.org

R: read.delim2 .txt file and calulate mean of 5 classes

################################################################################
# MC TEST data set by H.Wright                                                 |
#                                                                              |
#                                                                              | 
################################################################################
# set working directory file path
setwd("D:\Projects\R_analysis\mc_30.12.2010\")
# load the test marechiara dataset 
read.delim2 (file="D:\Projects\R_analysis\mc_30.12.2010\mc_test1.txt", 
          na.strings = "NA", 
          nrows = -1,
          skip = 0, 
          check.names = TRUE, 
          strip.white = FALSE, 
          blank.lines.skip = TRUE)
# assign data table to object 'mc' 
mc<-(read.delim2  (file="D:\Projects\R_analysis\mc_30.12.2010\mc_test1.txt", 
          na.strings = "NA", 
          nrows = -1, 
          skip = 0, 
          check.names = TRUE, 
          strip.white = FALSE, 
          blank.lines.skip = TRUE))
# obtain the data table column variables
names(mc)
#[1] "year"    "Acartia.clausi"     "Acartia.danae"      "Acartia.discaudata" "Acartia.longiremis" "Acartia.margalefi"      
 
#define variables in object mc
  col2 <-mc$Acartia.clausi
  col3 <-mc$Acartia.danae
  col4 <-mc$Acartia.discaudata
  col5 <-mc$Acartia.longiremis
  col6 <-mc$Acartia.margalefi
#take the mean of each variable
     mean(col2)
          mean(col3)
               mean(col4)
                    mean(col5)
                         mean(col6)

Created by Pretty R at inside-R.org

literate writing

From a compelling post by Dataists: What’s the use of sharing code nobody can read?

Who’s got the time to write a whole PDF every time you want to draw a bar chart? We’ve got press deadlines, conference deadlines, and a public attention span measurable in hours. Writing detailed comments is not only time consuming, it’s often a seriously complicated affair akin to writing an academic paper. And, unless we’re actually writing an academic paper, it’s mostly a thankless task.

I agree with this statement from my current perspective as a graduate student. Documentation and comments throughout the written code of a program or script for example (in R) serve an extremely important purpose at the early stage of the game. I am learning, and documenting the steps involved in the data analysis. Perhaps I am in danger of what these authors suggest as “stream of consciousness” writing.

Dataists also suggest that ProjectTemplate for R may be an efficient way to appease both hardline coders as well as those who adhere to style conventions.  In my blogging prose, I confess that I employ a stream of consciousness approach that allows me to delve into topics without much emphasis on using correct grammar or punctuation.  I apologize to those readers who have to suffer through the terrible writing! E.B. White would be appalled! Should we self-correct so strictly that it prevents us from putting our thoughts down? No, I believe (especially in brainstorming) that writing requires a certain level of nonconformity to inspire our inner muse.  However, in the business of scientific data analysis precise terminology and adherence to standards of conformity is essential.

As I start to compose scripts to process data,  I am thinking about documenting the work quite carefully.  I hope this will provide a reference for myself and others in the future.  I encourage you to read through the blog post again if you haven’t taken the hint yet so that you can begin to incorporate this approach in your projects.  The topic is worthy of further discussion.

References:

The Elements of Style Illustrated (2005), by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White and Maira Kalman (Illustrator), ISBN 1-59420-069-6

David Parnas and Paul Clements. “A Rational Design Process: How and Why to Fake It” in Software State-of-the-Art: Selected Papers. Dorset House, 1990, pg. 353-355

going with the flow

Today is Saturday/Sabato!  In a non-grad school world it might involve sleeping late (oh wait, I already did) and enjoying a leisurely day at the market (oh wait, I will do that on my walk to the lab) and then sitting in front of a computer for the rest of the day (yes, that is true).  However, somehow it seems that despite my efforts to avoid enjoyment, it is still possible! The transition to living abroad for my doctoral program has been a welcome change of pace from my previous life.  It is truly satisfying to wake up every day and just walk out the door without having to drive somewhere.  I will never miss that aspect of my former routine. Read More…

concept map (rough)

This is what I started with:

 

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