Visual software’s open a new world

Before taking the course “Visualizing your science”, Peter Bruce had a hard time to get proper images for his presentations. He watched tutorials on YouTube to learn a visual software, but he found it to be difficult and not suitable to his needs - to use the programs Paint or PowerPoint was still better. Therefore he choose to sign up for the course.

- One major tip is to learn a proper visual software. Software’s like PowerPoint and paint limits my imagination of what I can do, says Peter Bruce.

In the course the students learnt to use Adobe illustrator or Ink scape (which is similar and free). Nowadays many scientists and lecturers use pictures that they are not allowed to use, which the course addresses:

- My imagination of what I could do with images increased so fast. After a week, I had really improved my ability to turn concepts into images for a power point presentation, poster or an article, and so much faster than before, says Peter Bruce.

Understanding is in the eye of the beholder

One aspect that hit Peter was how different the perspectives in interpreting graphics were for the 50 PhD students attending the course.

- It was mind blowing to see what was obvious to you could be interpreted completely different by others. The course teaches you to foresee how others are going to interpret and adapt your image accordingly. It was also good that we were from different fields, to get new perspectives, says Peter Bruce.

Examples from the tool box they learnt was which color draws the eyes, how culture affect interpretation of images, how words should be distributed in the poster, how to use fonts etc. They were also taught how to steer the reader’s eyes in a poster.

Peter Bruce says he uses the online course material as a reference book, where he knows he can get detailed information about a specific issue.

Peter Bruce.
Peter Bruce.

Balancing information and space in posters

One of the lectures was performed by Jonas Dagson a graphic editor. Jonas is responsible for making infographics to the media of the Nobel Prize awarded projects in just a few hours.  He gave the class really rough constructive feedback on old posters. Peter Bruce thinks that it was really good, since it is by your mistakes you learn the most and develop.

- One major take home message from his lecture was how text that seems necessary for me really isn’t. It’s easy to think that all the text is important, but sometimes it will not help the reader to understand. So basically, balance information and space. There are also several tricks to distribute text in strategic ways to draw attention, says Peter Bruce.

Graphical abstract – an overlooked tool

One corner stone of the course was to learn how to make a graphical abstract of your science. In some fields this is more common than in others and to Peter Bruce it was new.

- The graphical abstracts forced me to think in a new way about my science. If you can’t explain it visually you don’t really understand it. Since I’m in the startup phase for some of my projects, this was especially valuable for me.

Peter Bruce says that everyone that need to make posters or even graphs, will benefit from taking the course.

- I recommend to take the course early in your PhD, because it gave me a new tool to help me think about what I can do and gave me a vision of how, says Peter Bruce.

The course gives you 4 ECTS, starts the 19:th of September and you can apply for it here.