Conventional academic research communication is formulated in sentences and paragraphs, charts and graphs, chapters or papers. PhD students are required to do a lot of reading and writing; obsessing over chapter and thesis structure, often becoming lost in multi-clausal sentences. For Sarah Foxen, the academic poster is a form of knowledge communication which explodes the boundary walls of academic convention, opening up a space for alternative forms of expression. Creating an academic poster can enable you to see your research differently, to think about colour and composition, and realise the power and value of alternative mediums of academic expression.
Academia is an institution predicated on convention. The choreography of our words, actions and – dare I say it – “outputs” is implicitly shaped by the historical establishment. As well, of course, as by contemporary agendas: the need to publish; to be measurable; impactful; REFable. Typically, we operate in sentences and paragraphs, charts and graphs, chapters, or papers. Images are often secondary, whilst for some they are a seemingly unaffordable luxury.
The academic poster is a form of knowledge communication which explodes the boundary walls of academic convention, opening up a space for alternative forms of expression. Prose is often ousted, or at least demoted, as shapes and forms, space and image shoulder the semiotic load.
The academic poster is an act of liberation – perhaps even peaceful protest. Not only for the researcher, but for his or her research. In our thesis we all tell the story of our research, except it’s not the story; it is merely a story: the tale we choose to tell as we navigate our way along the doctoral path: through supervision meetings, conferences convening colleagues, and chapter revisions, towards the Mecca to which all PhD students are directed: the successful viva. Subverting the linear constraints of the thesis, the academic poster provides a stage upon which an alternative research narrative may unfold.