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PHYS 499 : Library Resources Guide

Resources & Tips for Physics Research for Seniors & Juniors

Scientific Presentations and Posters

The Craft of Scientific Presentations (ebook)

Provides examples of scientific presentations to show clearly what makes an oral presentation effective. It considers presentations made to:

  • Persuade an audience to adopt some course of action (such as funding a proposal)
  • Communicate information

It considers both from four perspectives: speech, structure, visual aids, and delivery


  • Use of computer-based projections, slide shows & overhead projectors
  • Ways of organizing graphics and text in projected images
  • Using layout and design to present the information efficiently and effectively
  • Advice from successful scientific and engineering presenters, active laboratory directors
  • Errors that cause many scientific presentations to flounder, providing a list of ten critical errors to avoid


Source: Alley, M. (2003). The craft of scientific presentations : critical steps to succeed and critical errors to avoid. Springer.

Effective Scientific Presentations

Clear and logical delivery of your ideas and scientific results is critical for a successful scientific career. Presentations encourage broader dissemination of your work

The Following is a summary of some tips for Good Oral Presentations from the Public Library of Science (PLOS)

  1. Talk to the Audience : know audience members' backgrounds and present at the their knowledge level; what are they are hoping to get out of the presentation?
  2. Less is More : be clear, concise; draw participants into a dialog during the question-and-answer session
  3. Make the Take Home Message Persistent : What 3 things do you want the audience to remember after your presentation?
  4. Be Logical : Think of the presentation as a story with a beginning, middle and end
  5. Practice & Time Your Presentation : the more you practice the less likely you'll go off on tangents; practice in front of a group of peers
  6. Use Visuals Sparingly but Effectively : think no more than one visual for each minute you are talking
  7. Review Audio and/or Video of your Presentations
  8. Give Credit Where Credit is Due


Source: Bourne PE (2007) Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations. PLoS Comput Biol 3(4): e77

Effective Poster Presentations

Posters are a snapshot of your work designed to start a conversation or convince the reader they want to learn more. They should be a summary that can stand on it's own if you're not present. They are time-consuming to prepare, but can lead to great collaborations and new colleagues when done effectively.

The following is a summary of some tips for Good Poster Presentations from the Public Library of Science (PLOS)

  1. Define the Purpose : Ask yourself ask yourself this: What do you want the person passing by your poster to do? Engage in a discussion about the content? Learn enough to go off and want to try something for themselves? Want to collaborate?
  2. Sell Your Work in 10 Seconds : You are going to have competition. You need to grab attention and be succinct
  3. The Title is Important : The title is a good way to Sell Your Work and draw readers in
  4. Identify your Audience & Provide the Appropriate Scope and Depth of Content
  5. Good Posters have Unique Features Not in Papers : including your presence! Posters can be a vehicle for you to distribute papers, supplementary information and handouts
  6. Layout and Form are Critical : "Guide the passerby's eyes from one succinct frame to another in a logical fashion from beginning to end."
  7. Keep It Concise : think clarity, precision of expression, and economy of words
  8. Think Impact During and After the Poster
    • During: Work to get a crowd by being engaging; one engaged viewer will attract others. Don't badger people, let them read; Work all the audience at once, do not leave visitors waiting for your attention; People are more likely to remember you than your work

    • After: Make it easy for a conference attendee to contact you afterward; Have the poster online and make the URL available as a handout; Have your e-mail and other demographics clearly displayed;


Source:  Erren TC, Bourne PE (2007) Ten Simple Rules for a Good Poster Presentation. PLoS Comput Biol 3(5): e102


Print your Posters in Albertsons Library

There is a color poster / large format plotter printer on the first floor of the Library.  Follow the How to Print a Poster on the Plotter instructions to format your poster for printing. If you need help printing, the ASK desk in the center of the Library 1st floor can help.

Annotated Bibliographies and Literature Reviews

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

An annotated bibliography is simply a bibliography with a paragraph or annotation that evaluates the quality and accuracy of a source.

Annotations are typically 150 words or less, summarizing the central theme of the work, critiquing the author or credibility of the source, and discussing why that source is relevant specifically for your research.

Information to consider including:

  • Authority of the author
  • Accuracy of the research
  • Strengths or weaknesses of the article
  • How the paper is related to your own research

Why Write an Annotated Bibliography?

Writing an annotated bibliography may seem like busy work, but it can really save you a lot of time!

Imagine you are writing a paper and you remember a really good quote that would be perfect for the section you're writing, but you can't quite remember where you read it. You end up hunting through 10-20 sources to find that quote wasting a lot of time in the process. An annotated bibliography would help you find that source more quickly.

Annotated bibliographies help you:

  • See how your research is situated within the larger research conversation (context)
  • Reinforce what you just read
  • Think of the research in your own words, which is helpful to avoid accidentally plagiarizing some else's work
  • Decide if you are interested in a topic area

How do I Write an Annotated Bibliography?

Just remember CSE: Cite, Summarize, Evaluate.

  1. Cite your source
  2. Summarize the source
  3. Evaluate the source

As you're writing your Annotation, Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the author credible?
  • What did I like or not like about the source?
  • Are the arguments effective? Does the author support her arguments?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses?
  • How might I incorporate this source into my paper?

Answering these types of questions will help you formulate an effective critique and evaluation of each source.

A color coded example of what your annotation might look like:

Battle, K. (2007). Child poverty: The evolution and impact of child benefits. In K. Covell & R.B. Howe (Eds.), A question of commitment: Children's rights in Canada (pp. 21-44). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Ken Battle draws on a close study of government documents, as well as his own research as an extensively-published policy analyst, to explain Canadian child benefit programs.  He outlines some fundamental assumptions supporting the belief that all society members should contribute to the upbringing of children.  His comparison of child poverty rates in a number of countries is a useful wake-up to anyone assuming Canadian society is doing a good job of protecting children.  Battle pays particular attention to the National Child Benefit (NCB), arguing that it did not deserve to be criticized by politicians and journalists.  He outlines the NCB’s development, costs, and benefits, and laments that the Conservative government scaled it back in favor of the inferior Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB).  However, he relies too heavily on his own work; he is the sole or primary author of almost half the sources in his bibliography.  He could make this work stronger by drawing from others' perspectives and analyses.  Battle does offer a valuable source for this essay, because the chapter provides a concise overview of government-funded assistance currently available to parents.  This offers context for analyzing the scope and financial reality of child poverty in Canada. 

Additional sources that might help you: