Climate and Society: Case Studies

Web Poster Research Project - Fall 2009

Updated November 22, 2009

Creation and presentation of an online web poster addressing an environmental risk issue and its related societal impacts.

This project requires considerable planning and research - start working on this ASAP!

Important Deadlines:

Web Poster implementation plans due: Sept. 30, 2009

2) Web Poster front page and content overview due: Nov. 16, 2009

3) Final web poster project due:before midnight, Monday Dec. 7, 2009

Note: You should self-select your Web Poster team (2-4 people) and ponder project ideas. If no one in your group has any familiarity with html (hypertext markup language) or web publishing software, at least one member of the group will need to learn how to do this through ACIS. The ACIS team has agreed to provide the class with a tutorial on how to publish your own web site - I will get this information to you ASAP.


The poster project is designed to get you to think intensively about a particular aspect of the science-society interactions we're discussing in this course. The project should be well researched, be quantitative (i.e. demonstration of researched (or original) quantitative analysis of the problem), and represent a thorough overview of the problem.

How can I get an "A" for my webposter effort? Read this grading guide (updated 2008) that we use to grade the posters.

By completing this project you will have learned how to research a scientific problem, how to present it in a scientific context, and you will also discover something new for yourselves about specific science-society linkages. You will also learn valuable practical skills, such as how to use the Columbia library and internet resources and how to build and post your own web site.

Here are some web project ideas.

This project requires considerable planning and research - start working on this as soon as you have selected the topic! Here are some examples from previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005a, 2005b, 2007a, 2007b 2008a, 2008b

There are three stages to this project, each with firm deadlines (late submissions without justification are automatically graded 10% lower).

1) Web Poster Implementation Plan:

A three page Implementation Plan will be submitted which gives an overview of the proposed Web Poster topic. Remember: This is a science course so the web content must be mostly scientific in nature, not policy or economics.

The Implementation plan must address the following items and follow this format:

1) team members and responsibilities;

2) proposed research topic title;

3) Background of the scientific problem to be addressed (what it is, why it is important, what is known about it, etc.). The project must have an essentially scientific focus, with discussion of the data that define the problem, the scientific approaches used to constrain it, the hypotheses that were/can be tested, discussion of correlations, use of charts and data. Some policy elements can be woven in (at most 10% of the content), but you should really be posing the problem as a scientific problem that has societal relevance. Together, topics 3, 4, and 5 should be about 2 pages long;

4) Quantitative methods/skills/ to be used (that is, how you will quantify elements of your presentation, issues you will investigate, advancing and testing an hypothesis. This is an important component of the project as it represents your (collective) independent thinking and reasoning);

5) potential problems or complications you forsee with this project;

6) 5-10 sample scientific references you are using to guide your plan, presented in scientific citation format (most of these should NOT be web links or popular literature, but rather scientific papers that you're found through your research; use ISI or ScienceDirect);

7) Assigned (named) responsibilities for the next deadline, with signatures of all participants to confirm that the work load is equally and fairly distributed;

2) Web poster front page and content overview:

For this deadline, each team must submit a draft version of their web poster front page (as a working URL link) and a three page document that summarizes the major themes/content of the poster web page. The reason for this intermediate deadline is to follow your progress with the web page content and its design/construction. The content overview text should address the following topics:

1) Statement and discussion of the research problem,

2) Brief synopsis of each "linked" section of your web page including the theme/idea, probable content and relevance, references and relation to the scope of the overall theme. The links do not need to be active, but you do need to have a sense of that the links will be (roughly 1-3 sentence summary of each distinct page/content);

4) Team member responsibilities and assignments for the final submission, with signatures of all participants to confirm that the work load is equally and fairly distributed.

NOTE: It is *not* acceptable for one member of the team to be assigned with putting the web page together. ALL must participate in the research and planning.

3) Submission of the completed web poster project: five-minute student poster presentations will be on the last two days of classes.

You should be making regular progress on the project throughout the second half of the course. Each of you probably has experienced the heartbreak of procrastination - don't let this happen to you here! The project represents alot of work and a correspondingly high proportion of your final grade, so be sure to give it the time and committment that it needs. I will be very firm about the submission deadline so plan ahead.

The web poster format, content, and referencing styles are summarized below - a hand out will be distributed in class which outlines the format, presentation, citation, and content requirements of the posters, as well as the grading policy. One goal of this project is to have you become familiar with how scientific data and results are presented professionally. The physical format of the poster paper will be similar to that used in scientific meetings: each poster paper will need an introduction, statement of objectives, methodology, results and conclusions. Thorough and proper citation of all sources (graphical and intellectual) is mandatory. 

Each group will have five minutes to present their web poster in the last two days of class. Mountains of pizza and drinks will be supplied to fuel the creative energy for these last classes together.

The grading rubric I use for the web poster project is here.

Lastly, here is a guide on how to prepare your short webposter in-class presentation (10 Steps to Preparing a Great Scientific Talk)

Late projects are marked down 10% each day they are late.


Updated November 22, 2009