March 2009
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The Review Process

Recently I’ve been away at a couple of conferences. I presented a (terrible) poster about information flow at ASPLOS/VEE in Washington D.C. a couple weeks back (Mar 9–13). Then I spent finals week back home creating a new (and much improved) poster, which was presented at CGO in Seattle, WA. Though, the CGO trip wasn’t as appropriate to the work, and didn’t result in any useful social networking (the primary point of conferences). The poster was of much better quality, not only because of the additional time spent creating it, but also because of the lessons learned from the first poster session.

Though I think that a whole week spent creating a poster is a bit much, the end result was probably worth it. Everyone in lab spent most of that week creating a poster for each of our separate projects. We were able to give each other feedback that led to improved revisions. I, personally benefited greatly from looking at the posters that other had made, and incorporating (copying) presentation features that I liked into my own work, features that I would have been hard pressed to create on my own (I am not a graphic artist). In the end, we have each created an explanatory device that can be used to advertise our work to visitors for the next year.

I noticed also that the review process works for presentations as well as posters. By practicing a few times in front of the group, I witnessed improvement in others. Though, it’s a hard blow to one’s ego to be critiqued at the end of, or during, a presentation; it’s worth it. The slides, the talk, the content, and the delivery all improve. I personally dislike going through the process, but the end results are fulfilling in their own way. I felt much better about my poster at CGO than I did at ASPLOS.

Also, the best researchers are able communicators. That takes practice to develop and critique to hone.

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