The Research Toolkit

CURIE's open research platform

Month: September 2018

Staying calm pre-ICUR 2018

19/09/2018 – Post by Monash ICUR Student Director Peter Halat

ICUR is now less than 1 week away! Are you starting to feel nervous about your presentation?  Don’t worry,  this is the chance to reveal your hard work to the world! There is still plenty of time to prepare and revise your presentation, and it’s completely understandable to be anxious and nervous leading into the event. Firstly, it is a great achievement to present your research at a conference, whether it be by a poster or through a spoken presentation.

You should keep in mind is that ICUR is designed as a showcase for international, interdisciplinary undergraduate research. This means that ICUR is supportive of any research performed by undergraduate students and this motivation will trickle down to every panel. Every presenter will be welcomed with a round of applause and every presentation will finish with a round of applause. The session chair for your panel will make sure you feel comfortable and included in your panel. Furthermore, ICUR solely features undergraduate research, meaning that there are many other undergraduate students who are also feeling just as nervous as yourself. However, you can play a part in the collective audience at ICUR, be supportive of everyone, and expect everyone to be supportive of you.

It goes without saying that practising your presentation will help you feel prepared. You could even anticipate possible questions in your practice. Walking up to present your research feels a lot better when you have a few great rehearsals under your belt. If you’ve proven to yourself that you can speak well by yourself, or in front of your friends, family or pets, then you can prove to yourself that you’re capable of presenting in front in an ICUR audience.

My last piece of advice is to separate your research from your emotions. Your research represents a body of work performed by you and is not a direct representation of yourself. Research is all about learning new things and everyone is on their own journey. Many things may have become clearer to you in hindsight. Questions that might come across as tricky could just represent new avenues of learning and you should treat them as such. In fact, you could take any questions as compliments towards how interesting your research is!

Happy rehearsing! I look forward to seeing your research.

What makes a good poster presentation?

17/09/2018 – Post by CURIE Policy and Project Officer, Hannah Skipworth

Last Wednesday, Ros Haliday (Matheson Library Learning Skills Advisor) put this question to a room of undergraduate researchers at the Poster Preparation and Presentation workshop. With a little bit of head scratching, some answers emerged. A good poster doesn’t have too much text, uses contrasting colours and represents data using graphs.

When asked ‘what are the challenges when starting a poster?’ The conversation was much more animated. I leaned over to my partner, whose immediate (and relatable!) fear was getting the font size incorrect. What is a good font size anyway? We’ll get to that.

Ros took us through a collection of example posters, each time asking us to point out what was good and what could be done better. For example, oftentimes the title could be snappier, the information could be presented in a more logical order, or dot points could be used to break up dense text.

Taking all this on board, the students received an A3 piece of paper each and some markers, and were set to the task of mapping out a poster. Every student organised their poster differently, depending on their methodologies, graphs, images, and conclusions. It was great to see many different approaches.  

And with the library’s walls covered in undergraduate research posters, it was time to practice ad-lib presenting with a partner. This was great fun and it was tough to wrap it up once the workshop ended! We left the session with these key pieces of advice:

On creating the poster:

  • Create a snappy title and use sentence case (do not Capitalise Each Word)
  • Use academic language that doesn’t alienate the audience
  • Have a main point
  • Clearly define your research questions
  • Make it accessible to audience members from all disciplines
  • Make the best use of the page
  • Use an attractive colour scheme (blue writing on a green background is not going to work!)
  • Have photos that invite the audience in
  • Use graphs that represent the data
  • Consider using dot points
  • Don’t forget your references

On presenting the poster:

  • The poster should be able to stand-alone
  • The presenter shouldn’t need to explain the vital information, it should be on the poster
  • It should be presented like a PowerPoint presentation; you can’t be looking back at it!

Still wondering what the right font size might be? Well, anything that can be read from 1 meter away will work!

Good luck with your posters and look forward to seeing you at ICUR next week!

A personal experience of ICUR 2017

10/09/2018 – Post by ICUR Presenter Alice Kim

Not sure what to expect at ICUR 2018? Don’t worry, last year I was in your exact position.

ICUR’17 was the first conference I had ever attended, and it was a great experience. The idea of attending and presenting at a conference seems intimidating (I know I find public speaking scary) but ICUR was a great opportunity to help conquer this preconception whilst developing important transferable skills.

Attending the two-day conference felt very official. As it was held in New Horizons, it felt like going to new place, as a science student, it was a building that I rarely frequented. There was registration, a welcome speech, and lots of coffee to help us stay fuelled.  

Presenting at ICUR was a totally different experience when comparing it to presentations I had done in my course. First off, it was live-streamed internationally – that was a first experience! Secondly as my panel had presenters from Monash Australia and Monash Malaysia, my audience was interdisciplinary and international. I was asked a variety of questions that came from people from different backgrounds – both culturally and disciplinary. Thirdly, as your presentation is unique (no one is presenting the same thing as you) it was up to you to capture the audience’s interest and teach them something new. Thus, it was a great opportunity to practice your oral communication skills, publicize your research and teach others.

Being part of the audience was a great learning experience. In addition to supporting my fellow Compass members, I attended other panel and poster sessions where I learned about things that I had never knew before. Some things I learned included using forum theatre to treat psychological trauma, the role of diet and gut bacteria on asthma, the use of Japanese language in English-speaking online forums and its impact on social inclusion, and the media’s role in the rise of Islamophobia. Hearing people speak about their research was great as you could see their genuine passion for their research

Another thing that stood out from my ICUR’17 experience was interacting and learning from people from other faculties and disciplines.  During our university life, we are often in silos – we interact with people from our discipline and we don’t get much opportunity to interact with people outside of it.  The word “networking” can send shivers down your spine but at ICUR, we got great practice as we easily mingled with other students to chat about our research.

All in all, I am looking forward to ICUR’18 and I hope you are too!


Tips & opportunities for presenting original research at ICUR

03/09/2018 – Post by Senior Student Projects Officer Jenna Barker

ICUR is an event that provides students with an assortment of challenges and possibilities when presenting their original research. While the prospect of presenting your own research to an interdisciplinary audience can be a bit daunting, the benefits outweighs the challenges. 

To begin, it can be challenging to know how much depth to go into to, while still making sure your audience understands, can engage with, and will enjoy your presentation.

What will make your audience curious?

What is unique about your research it? What got you interested in the first place? Try incorporating some of these elements into your presentation to engage your audience. Think about it from their perspective. What’s really special about your research? Practice explaining it in front of your parents, housemates, partners, friends, peers and your Compass group!

Each time you practice you will know your presentation better, and the feedback they provide will help polish it to a point where it’s enjoyable and understandable for the ICUR audience. The process of constructing a presentation suited for an interdisciplinary audience also involves critical thinking about your own research topic. Consider what are the most important messages to get across and why. 

It’s all about skill building!

Presenting original research is also fantastic for practising critical thinking and developing a persuasive and interesting presentation. Thinking about a research topic in a new way or addressing gaps in the literature show that you are able to think independently which is useful for both work and university. As you work on your presentation you are honing your communication skills, overcoming personal challenges, the fear of public speaking and employing time management skills. 

You will be able to demonstrate to future employers that you have these skills, and having had the experience of presenting at an international conference also shows that your research was of a certain quality to be accepted.

Be on the lookout for possible collaborators.

ICUR also provides you with the possibility of getting new people interested in your research topic, and to make them care! This could be around a particular issue, new approaches to old questions, or simply something you find intriguing. Often students at university can feel siloed into their discipline and rarely have the opportunity to learn about what others are doing in different disciplines. More often than not, people are really enthusiastic to learn about new things, and may even draw links with their own areas of study. Who knows, you could meet future colleagues at ICUR this year!

So remember, go out and make friends! Remember to enjoy yourself and be proud that you are presenting your original research!