Developing Posters as a tool for Public Engagement: KNUST
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At the DRUSSA Benchmarking Conference in Mauritius delegates voted for the best "Demonstrator Research Project" poster. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) won the prize for the best presented poster and Miss Irene Sekyiwaa-Siaw from KNUST takes us through the process of developing their award winning poster.
The Research Uptake poster was designed with the basic tenet of science communication in mind: communicating science not only to scientists but also to non-experts/lay audiences who may well be affected by the results and impact of the research. This tenet was at the back of the mind of the Research Uptake Communications Team as we developed a poster to demonstrate our research uptake communication capacity initially to our DRUSSA university colleagues, and then to more lay audiences. As such we took into account the following:
- Relevance and
"We planned and organised our thoughts on what we actually wanted to achieve and then conceptualised the basic layout of the poster and the information it would contain"
With these guiding principles some of the research communicators, comprising a journalist and a communication designer together with the DRUSSA Leader and Champion, brainstormed on what we actually wanted to communicate. These people, together with the help of communication designer offered useful insights and suggestions in coming up with a creative way of presenting the information visually. We planned and organised our thoughts on what we actually wanted to achieve and then conceptualised the basic layout of the poster and the information it would contain.
Having secured that agreement of the project research team and defined the audience to include non-experts we sought to write a simple 400 word article which covered all the essential findings in a basic news story, with the 5 W’s and H (Who, what, where, when, why and how). As our key message was targeted at the general public we took the angle of “the nutritional benefits for everyone of Moringa Oleifera leaves”.
Role of the Researcher
Researchers may not have the expertise to develop such posters so it is always good to have a research uptake communication team to work hand in hand with the Researcher. Despite the fact that researchers require relatively basic set of skills in order for them to be able to write simple stories from their research findings, the ability to simplify research into a language and images suitable for lay audiences does not come easy. It takes a lot of practice and effort and is therefore time consuming. Researchers, burdened with teaching loads may not have the luxury of time and perhaps patience to learn the skills. We therefore wrote the article and then went back to the researchers with the story to make sure that the meaning and essence of the research had not been diluted. Facts and figures of the entire article were read and cross checked with the original research paper.
"The poster also captured the usefulness of the research finding to the general public, using simplified tables and appealing photographs"
Designing the poster itself also requires some skills but this can be acquired through practice and minimum training. Having taken the audience into consideration, and created a simple concise, clear and easily understandable and relatable storyline, the poster concept was then to tell the story exactly as in the article with the new discovery, that is, the nutritional value of Moringa leaves, as the key message. The poster also captured the usefulness of the research finding to the general public, using simplified tables and appealing photographs.
To emphasise the value of the research the poster also captured the impact of the research – that the Moringa Oleifera leaf powder is used in the management of Sub-Clinical protein energy malnutrition in children between the ages of 0-36 months at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Kumasi. This shows how the research has been utilized by people and the success or otherwise stories, initiatives and policy that has come out of the research.
The poster was entered into a competition, and won the prize for most informative, focussed and attractive poster. Since then the RU Communications team has exhibited the poster on the Research Office notice board and copies have been given to the researchers.
You can see the poster here.