Judging/Poster Guidelines

From 2011.igem.org

In order to guide teams as they create their team poster, the Judging Committee would like to outline the poster judging guidelines used to analyze team posters.

Questions can be directed to Head Poster Judge, Jeff Way, at judging [AT] igem.org

Poster Judging Criteria

The overall criterion is how well the idea and accomplishments of the team are communicated. The common problem that judges have is to separate the quality of the science from the quality of the poster – judges may overlook a mediocre presentation because the science is cool. It is best to keep this in mind during the initial evaluation. I will remind everyone of this problem when we start.

The poster session should serve the goal of teaching the students how to present a poster at future meetings. iGEM will be, for most students, the first time that they will have presented a poster to a critical outside audience, and we have an opportunity to instruct them.

Here are some specific questions that poster judges should ask themselves. There are two general aspects:

  1. Does the poster stand on its own – in the absence of the presentation, the wiki, etc.? This evaluation should be made before the poster presentations (i.e. without the student presenters).
  2. Can the team present the poster and answer in-depth questions? The poster presentations provide an opportunity for a detailed probing that is not possible during the talks.

This is the opportunity to find out if the students really understand what they have done, or whether an advisor had all the ideas.

More specific things to look for. Some of these can be used as points of advice for the students. (Remember that the following list has not been distributed to the students, but with further input the list will probably be distributed next year.)

  1. An ideal poster will have a balance of text, diagrammatic figures and data figures. This is partly because different audience members will have different cognitive styles and prefer to receive information in different ways.
  2. Are the figures well-labeled? Are there legends that allow the figures to stand on their own, without a presenter having to explain them? Are the key concepts diagrammatically represented? It is ideal if a single figure represents the entire concept.
  3. Is the text understandable? Is it physically readable from a reasonable distance? One useful technique is to use different font sizes to represent key points that everyone should get vs. details that only an aficianado will care about.
  4. Is the data presented clearly? Is there redundancy in the presentation of the data that becomes tedious, and at the expense of other information? It is ideal if each type of experiment is only represented once or twice, and then conclusions from this type of experiment are simply listed so as to not take up too much space. (The presenters should be aware that their job is to instruct and not to defend; i.e. it is not necessary to show data convince a skeptic that every control has been done – this can be communicated verbally or when the work is ultimately published.)
  5. Is there appropriate use of color, font changes, etc.? Dramatic colors should be used only to illustrate dramatic points – overuse is simply confusing. Same with italics, etc. Also, is there a consistent use of color throughout the poster to represent the same concept, or are the colors randomly switched?
  6. One specific warning: as 7% of the male-population is red-green color-blind, use of these colors to represent contrasting concepts should be avoided.
  7. Attribution: the poster is a opportunity to give credit to contributors who may not be present, and also to other scientists (e.g. earlier workers or competitors). Referencing and attribution is often not practical during a talk, but the poster offers a chance to record who thought of what. Attribution should be for key concepts and not details (i.e. ~ 5 references but not 20).