November 10-15

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ACR Convergence 2023

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Use illustrations to get more eyes on your research presentation


2 minutes

Maarten Boers, MD, PhD, MSc
Maarten Boers, MD, PhD, MSc

As important as research results may be, just as important is effectively communicating those results to peers, colleagues, and the broader scientific community. Properly designed visual aids, such as graphs and tables, can be essential in getting the message across.

“Knowing how and when to use various types of graphics to illustrate data and other information is an important skill for scientists and health professionals presenting research,” said Maarten Boers, MD, PhD, MSc, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Amsterdam Rheumatology and Immunology Center, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. “But despite the importance, it’s a skill that is not generally taught as part of traditional scientific or medical education.”

Dr. Boers will offer some practical tips and advice for using visual aids during the ACR/ARHP session, Pump Up Your Presentation: Graphics, Tables and Talks, on Monday, from 9:00 – 10:00 am in Room W184a.

Over the course of the session, Dr. Boers will introduce the principles of data visualization to help researchers determine which messages in a presentation might require a graph or a table and the best tools to create them. He will describe how to choose the best illustration, and discuss issues around scaling, discrimination of data series, minimizing non-data ink, and avoiding “chart junk.”

He will also discuss the concept of truthful design in keeping a direct proportion between graph and data quantities, avoiding forms prone to misinterpretation, labels to prevent ambiguity, keeping data in context, and avoiding more dimensions in the graph than in the data.

“It all boils down to selecting the message with the audience in mind and having a clear vision and a clear understanding of how to use visuals to highlight and tell the story in the data,” Dr. Boers said.