Poster Day online has now been run as an alternative event to the campus Poster Day (an annual one-day event where Postgraduate Researchers showcase their work, this year held on the 26th of March) for seven years. Originally set up for off-site students, but with a now wider intake, we are expecting over 150 submissions this year, including both posters and videos. So as the two events diverge in focus further, what is the participants’ experience and what have we learnt from the online event format?
The statistics alone reveal a high degree of interaction, since all online discussions are recorded. In 2014, we had over 120 participants, who with visitors contributed over 1000 comments and responses, which together comprise an aggregate of over 91000 words. There were some very lengthy responses to questions, but it is probably not surprising that most PhD researchers are keen to respond to questions and discuss their research.
The event appears to show a strong sense of community. We do have an attendance requirement for formal completion, requiring participants to respond to at least two other posters, explicitly encouraging cross-faculty discussions which clearly helps to start the discussions. Examination of the data shows that over two-thirds of participants contribute in excess of the formal requirements, with 20% contributing six or more comments on other posters.
Our feedback was obtained through a short online form that was completed by over 20% of participants. We gained a variety of very positive responses to the question, ‘What do you like most about this event?’ Many expressed a preference for the online over the campus event:
‘I have really enjoyed being able to visit and revisit the wide selection of posters displayed and I have probably accessed more through the online event than I could have on the day event.’
Of course, this is a self-selecting group, but clearly being able to choose their event is important.
Over half of the responses explicitly mentioned a valued opportunity for cross-faculty interactions and consequent broad range of topics on display:
‘It offers a great chance for inter faculty academic communication. I learn many things from other participants …‘
For many, the time-span of three weeks allowed for viewing, commenting and the judging of posters, compares positively with the one day campus event, allowing more time to read the posters than in a crowded hall, and time to prepare questions. Clearly the online event is a useful forum for discussion and exchange of ideas:
‘longer period of time – viewed by more people. gives time for viewers to consider the poster and think of constructive criticism/questions, and gives the student time to give serious thought to their answer and give in depth responses.’
Several participants also mentioned the importance of gaining feedback on their poster, which emphasises that this event is a recognised part of their training:
‘It is a good platform that PhD students could communicate with each other from different background and acquire various feedback and ideas. I got some good suggestions for my own research. ‘
In terms of improving the event, one of the biggest complaints was the lack of interest from other parts of the University, and in one case from their ‘own department’:
‘Advertise more widely inside and outside the university as an ongoing online exhibition and forum’
This year we are trying out a Twitter campaign to encourage wider engagement – you can join in at #posterdayonline2015.
Please also visit the event and add your own observations.
For access see: http://www.liv.ac.uk/media/livacuk/pgr-development/pdo15.pdf