Science doesn’t have to be ugly

It’s a common assumption among scientists and researchers that the design of their scientific outputs doesn’t really matter. What matters most is what you have to say, not how you say it.

While reasonable and partially correct, this assumption is also quite naive.

Who hasn’t be appalled by slides containing huge chunks of text? Who hasn’t be appalled by a paper written in 9, with tight underlines and virtually no margins? Who hasn’t be appalled by an ugly poster where the text is so little you have to be way too close to read it?

I admit it can be counterintuitive, but to be effective a good presentation has to be appealing both on its substance and on its look – whether it’s a paper, a presentation, a poster or anything else. Human cognition is crippled with a huge list of cognitive bias, which means we’re far from perfect logical machines. This is why presentation matters.

Here enters Brushing Up Science, a blog by Kenneth Hughes (Ph.D. student in oceanography). It contains a lot of good tips on how to better present science.

I’d say I agree with 80% of what he wrote, especially when he reminds some solid basic principles of design every scientist should be aware of. And I’ve already learned one or two things.

The posts are not too long and easy to read, so Kenneth’s blog is a perfect reading for the busy modern researcher!

PS: yes, I do believe economics is a science. So the title of this post.

Olivier Simard-Casanova

I am a Ph.D. candidate in economics interested in non-monetary incentives, economic theory, and agent-based models.

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