3 September, 2019

Infographics illuminating research

Sam Musarika reports on a recent STARS course.

PhD projects are complicated and are sometimes not easy to communicate. What might seem to be an interesting project to the researcher and his fellows could be easily dismissed by those outside that sphere of interest. It is important therefore that a researcher presents their work in a way that a ‘mere mortal’ can grasp. However, before anyone can take interest in any project, they must be attracted to it first. This is where infographics come in. Infographics condense information and graphics and present it with simplicity and clarity.

Earlier this summer, some of STARS cohort 3 where joined by students from Envision DTP for an infographic course in Nottingham. The two-day course was intensive but very easy to follow regardless of pre-existing knowledge.

We learnt how to use graphic software (Affinity Designer) and how to make beautiful infographics using the graphics software. To familiarise ourselves with the software we were using, we started with a simple task of tracing a mole. My efforts as illustrated below were not the best, but the task was successful in familiarising everyone with the complex software.

After a successful morning making mole tracings with varying degrees of success, we were put into groups. In these groups, we all used what we had learnt in the morning to make a complete infographic on toast. The main challenge was not lack of skill but working effectively as a team. It was a challenge working as a team as there were so many ideas and everyone had a different approach. Eventually we agreed on an idea and executed it.

The following day, our expertise in Affinity Designer had improved and everyone seemed confident using it. However, the main challenge of the day was set, and it seemed daunting. Like the previous day, we had to work in teams to come up with infographics and then pitch them to everyone. All the infographics were judged. We were put into new groups and were assigned a designer who would help us with our creations. Everyone worked very well as a group. I felt more comfortable than the previous day and felt there was less friction in the group. We had successfully mastered infographics and teamwork.

There were times I was not sure if we were going to make the deadline to complete the project because we’d been over ambitious. However, working together as a team and sharing our knowledge, we did not only finish the project, but our Waitrose themed infographics won! Doing the infographics was a great and practical way to learn about effective infographics.

I personally enjoyed the course so much and I would, without hesitation recommend it to others. Peter from Infohackit is an amazing teacher, he managed to guide us through some very complicated software within a couple of days to create amazing masterpieces. I hope other STARS students who could not make it to this training will get the opportunity to attend the course another time because it is very helpful. I now look at my posters and other presentations differently.

S.Musarika Aug 2019