Apr 08

International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

I am particularly happy as I have just found out that a journal article I have written has been accepted for publication in the peer review journal – International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

The title of the article is:
The Impact of Peri Operative Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on the Quality of Life of Maxillofacial Patients who undergo surgery in irradiated fields.

The authors and full reference will be posted on the research page in the not too distant future and although the article may not be a page turner like the Da Vinci Code, it is easier and quicker to read than War and Peace.

I would dearly like to post the abstract here, but having already posted about the topic of self plagiarism it would be fool hardy to do so.

Keep an eye out for the article if its a topic you’re interested in and feel free to ask questions or make comments.

Apr 07

Conference

What should you expect when you attend an academic conference?

I guess the first thing to say is that to date I have only been to one conference when I have not been presenting either a poster, or giving an oral address, and usually I am doing multiple things. So I have relatively high expectations as to how I like things and what I expect from the others that are attending.

Also conferences are often a very good money making opportunity for the people organising them, so never be afraid to ask them questions, as you will probably be making a fair investment of time and money to attend. So make sure you get out of it what you want/need.

So what do I want to know before going to the conference?

If I have achieved a poster presentation I want to know the orientation (landscape or portrait) of the poster. Next when does my poster need to be put up, as some conferences want it shown for the entire duration and others only for a morning or other specified period. Then when I am expected to ‘man’ my poster, that is to stand beside it and answer questions. This is increasingly important as the concept of the ‘oral poster’ is slowly becoming fashionable.

An oral poster is one where you produce a poster then at a specified time have to give a short (usually 3 minute) over view of it’s content, and answer questions posed by the audience.

If I have been given a oral presentation I need to know the amount of time I have to talk for and how long the questioning period is. Next is when I am expected to talk.

Obviously it is also nice to be given an idea of possible hotels etc and maps and directions for getting there.

When I get there, what do I want to know?

Where do I register? This may seem like an obvious point, but I have been to many a conference where the sign posting is rubbish, and you can spend a considerable amount of time trying to track down someone that might know something about anything.

Hopefully after you have registered you will have a conference handbook which will give you all the other information you need, but don’t put money on it. One of the first things to do is make sure your abstract is in it and that the organisers are expecting you. Then the following questions can be asked:

Where do I hang my poster? – Not always obvious

Where is the room I am presenting in?

Is there any where I can check my presentation and maybe practice it? – this is of course something you should have done before you get there, but it always pays to make sure your presentation works on the conference computers. Also take two copies on two different formats (CD and Flash memory are probably the best). This may seem a little OTT, but it can pay to be paranoid about these things 🙂

Is there a dais? – I find it comforting to have something to hide behind, or at least put my notes on!

Can I have a microphone? – don’t be afraid of using a using a microphone, if it’s there then use it and talk normally. It saves you having to shout or not being heard by people that are interested in your work.

When are the coffee/tea breaks? – you may think this is a strange question, but it is really easy to dehydrate at these things and it is rare to go to a conference when drinks, even water, are free available all the time.

and last but by no means least

Where is the bar?

This last question is not because I am an alcoholic, but because at many conferences (especially medical ones) a lot of networking is done over a beer at the end of the day. Also if you have been presenting you will probably really appreciate the down time that the bar offers even if drinking a grapefruit juice and soda.
So hopefully there a few obvious questions to ask before you attend a conference and maybe even a few pointers as to how to make a conference you are organising more attendant friendly.

Mar 18

BBC/AHRC Knowledge Exchange Programme

Last night was the BBC/AHRC Knowledge Exhange Programme panel discussion on collaborative learning (British Broadcasting Corporation and Arts and Humanities Research Council, Mark asked on Twitter what the AHRC was, turns out there are at least 11 AHRCs and 79 BBCs).

Andrew Dubber has a pretty good write up of proceedings, there should be a podcast about at some point also.

There was a pretty good University turn out and a few companies along also to see what the BBC were up to and how that might represent future collaborative opportunities. I’m not sure there was a whole lot of encouragement outside the fairly academic sociology / ethnography work that seemed to be the bulk of projects undertaken. It didn’t sound like this was the start of a lanscape shift in terms of commissioning or technology R&D collaborations. But then the BBC is a pretty big beast and change takes time.

I did have a good chat with the AHRC folks on evaluation and how you measure the longer term outcomes and impact of Knowledge Exchange programmes.  This is a tricky topic since the impacts of knowledge exchange tend to become apparent long after the event, and can rarely be attributed to a single cause. What we tend to end up using are approximations and indicators of success (by ‘we’ I refer to my ‘day job’ with Knowledge West where we’re currently designing and implementing an evaluation of the Knowledge Exchange activities and their wider impact). This is also something that hopefully the newly formed Institute of Knowledge Transfer will champion (Disclosure: I am a member of the IKT and currently standing for election to the Board).

Mar 05

Serious fun in Coventry, part the first

This is one of a serious of posts about the Culture, Heritage & Tourism Technology Workshop at the Serious Games Institute on Tues, 4 March. The event was streamed to the SGI island in SecondLife but I can’t find a link to the slides or any recorded version.

The first session was kicked off by Professor Bob Stone from the Human Interface Technologies group at Birmingham University discussing Virtual Heritage, “Then & Now”. After a quick overview of the history of VR and location reproduction, Bob showed a couple of the older projects and touched on their work with Virtual Stonehenge (which suffered from some clumsy marketing/PR from Intel).

He then touched on a new human factors guidelines for virtual worlds that is about to be published (its currently being vetted by MoD). This should begin to formalise the experiences of the last +10 years into VR. He also mentioned the Virtual heritage network and VIZIN NIZIA (can’t find a website for this) as resources for folks interested in getting into this field (or learning from it).

A few very cool uses of CR that Bob described were Virtual snowshoe mountain, where real meteorological data was being using to show the mountain through the seasons but also demonstrate the effects of climate change over longer time periods. A Virtual great barrier reef where they could model the effect of human intervention and pollution, along with making a CAVE environment for virtual visitors. And a VR dreamscape formed from elements of Lowry’s pictures and reformed into a walk through animation.

Current Work included modelling the Scylla to verify artificial life models. Virtual Scylla blends highly accurate sidescan sonar of the Leander Class frigate with models of how seaweed, fish and silt blooms are degrading the ship faster than expected. There is a serious side to this in that a major tourist site is becoming a potential hazard to diving.

Bob then showed us a quick revisit of Virtual Stonehenge running on the Quest 3D game engine. This allows Bob and his team to link multi-media objects to in-game items quickly and much greater realism that their earlier Stonehenge project.

Mike Gogan, The Virtual Experience Company (now part of Blitz Games) presented 3D Visualisations for Virtual Experience and the interpretation of heritage sites. Having begun some years ago with very (by today’s standards) simple representations of Shakespeare’s birthplace, what Mike was focused on was the story of the heritage site. Mike stressed the need to working subject matter experts for the content but to build in interpretation experts to connect with the audience (and to work out who the audience is).

Around about this the backchannel on Second Life started to heat up. Apparently folks couldn’t see the presenter (cause it was dark) so it just went from night to noon. Folks happier! Except for when the presenter’s didn’t use the mic’s. 🙂

Anyway, back to Mike who was now giving us a flythrough of the Houses of Parliament around 1440. Someone asked about using advertising in-games / media funding to pay for experiences. This wasn’t something that Mike was working on but it might be something to be developed, Blitz have made adver-games for other platforms / purposes.

Last up (before coffee) was Martyn Ware (Future of Sound, Illustrious Company, founding member of The Human League and Heaven 17) with some staggeringly cool examples of 3D soundscape projects from around the world. The focus was on building immersive 3D soundscapes, emotionally engaging experiences through audio. His ambition was to build a “better than Star-trek holo-deck”. Part of the demo was a slightly disconcerting, but very impressive flight of a bird around the room (on the tech front Martyn can control up to 16 sounds, sync’d with 25fps for video meshing).

He was also experimenting with using 3D soundscapes to transport experiences to other locations (Mexico City in Long Beach California). They were also playing with city-scaping (LondonScape) – audio abstraction of a city rather than a representation of that city. The headline project that was on teh title of the presentation was Rome Reborn 1.0 – set in 400ad, Martyn was planning a full 3D sound experience to match the VR experience to convince you you’re in ancient rome. One setting that is in discussion was to repopulate the coliseum with 50k Romans cheering their gladiator.

Another (smaller but no less interesting) project was a sensory theatre at Threeways School in Bath due to opening later in 2008.

I’d really like to get Martyn involved in some research or demonstration projects at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.

And then there was coffee!!

Mar 05

CV enhancement – the reason junior medics/researchers submit abstracts to conferences

It has been the case for quite some time that a medics (Doctor) CV is greatly enhanced by the addition of published research. Ideally ‘published’ means an article in a high powered peer review journal. But it is not until you have been doing research for a year or two that it really strikes you how hard this actually is. So it is no surprise that people new to research find a good first step is to get there work accepted for presentation at a conference.

This is the type of thing I have been working with a group of junior doctors to achieve. We have submitted abstracts and requested both oral and poster presentations and are currently awaiting a response from the organisers. But what is the difference between these formats and what does it mean to the authors.

WHAT IS A POSTER?

A poster is a bulletin board, usually A0, providing an opportunity to disseminate an idea or findings from audit/research for discuss it with your peers. It may be an overview of a technical topic, a problem or question, a product or a case study.

A typical poster is not just a shortened version of a journal paper; posters are less formal, more interactive, and may provoke argument. They tend to be shown throughout the duration of a conference and although the authors are not expected to be present to answer questions all the time there is usually an alloted time for them to answer questions.

WHAT IS AN ORAL PRESENTATION?

An oral presentation is a step up from a poster on the ‘CV’ stakes. The time span you have to talk for varies from conference to conference. It is a chance to tell your story to a group of interested individuals in a more dynamic way than a poster, and to clearly explained the research in more detail and to expounded its virtues (and vices).

The thing to remember is listeners have one chance to hear your talk and can’t “re-read” when they get confused. There are two well-know ways to communicate your points effectively. The first is to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). Focus on getting one to three key points across. But a good rule of thumb is one key point for every 5 mins of presentation time. Second, repeat key insights: tell them what you’re going to tell them (Forecast), tell them, and tell them what you told them (Summary).

WORK LOAD AND PEER SIGNIFICANCE

On a personal development front for a junior doctors, an oral presentation is classed as being a larger ‘CV’ tick then a poster. However both entail significant amounts of work. The preparation of posters is not something to be taken lightly. The colours, fonts, pictures, grammar, spelling are all important in just getting the poster read and all need to be considered and argued to be as important as the actual content. These same factors are relevant to a oral presentation. We have all sat through a meeting where someone has come PowerPoint mad. The other thing that will drive people up the wall at a conference is not sticking to time. Therefore practice practice practice what you are going to say and keep to time. If I achieve nothing else with my group of Dr’s they will run to time when giving a presentation even if they can’t do it when running a clinic 🙂