I had a good response to my recent posting on the discussion list for feedback about a Physics World article, “Should scientific papers be written in a first-person narrative?” by James Dacey. The topic came to life again the other day in a related science communication experience.
I was on the judging panel for 2011 AIP NSW Postgraduate Awards Day where six students each gave a 20-minute presentation of their postgraduate research in physics. Presentations were judged for (1) content and scientific quality, (2) clarity and (3) presentation skills.
The four judges were very impressed by all the presentations. Each student crafted a narrative structure which was effective in introducing the context and history of their research topic, posing the current problems and presenting what they had done. Although the presentations covered very different areas of physics and some had a lot of technical detail, each student was able to communicate what they were doing to the physics-based audience.
These six students are among the top physics postgrads in NSW and the ACT and clearly had worked closely with their supervisors to achieve great presentations. I’m hoping that this represents a trend which values the importance of clear communication for research reporting.
To quote from the AIP NSW about the judging criteria, “These factors and others contribute to the overall impression of the candidate’s performance. A good talk is more than the sum of good performance in each component. The best talk is well-presented, well-practised, clear, conveys significance and impact, and is stimulating and memorable”.
Email me if you want a copy of the explanation of the judging criteria used for the AIP NSW Postgraduate Awards Day.