Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Peer Review and Research

Guidance and resources to support the research process for librarians.

Effective Presentation


  • The work should clearly communicate the content without calls for clarification.
  • Content should be stated in an appropriate style and language relevant to the level of the intended audience. 
    • If written for the general public, simplification of terms and provision of background information would allow attendees to easily grasp the concepts and research results being reported. 
    • If written for fellow scholars and researchers, the content would presume no need for topic education is necessary, that terminology is consistent with the subject area, and research reporting would be at the level of scholarly writing.
  • The work should be free of grammatical and punctuation errors.
  • Numbers and data, if used, should be presented in a manner which makes understanding easy to achieve.


  • Works submitted for publication in traditional print resources should follow the publisher’s guide to submissions, especially criteria involving relevant value to the readers.
  • Works submitted for publication in an electronic format – web site, digital, PDF, etc. – should be cognizant of the type of format and the format’s strengths in appealing to the reader by use of technology, programming, and audio or video motion.


  • The work should clearly state the purpose of the work, the goals that were designed, the results that occurred, any differences between the goals and the results, and the importance of the research results to the audience or area of interest.
  • The author should demonstrate scholarship in the field by the quality of supporting evidence, research method, research results, and interpretation of those results.

Blogs, Listservs, and Social Media

Electronic presentations are a great way to gage collegial ideas and opinions about the topic you have selected to pursue.  These formats can be done at varying and convenient times.

  • Online brevity is the best – adopt Twitter’s 140 character limit, and select words carefully.
  • Use simple statements.
  • Seek feedback and comments.


Exhibits consist of a visual display of a collection, program, initiative, or body of work (i.e. paintings, drawings, prints, posters, photography, sculpture, ceramics, video, installation, multi-media).

  • Include a general statement of purpose and statements to provide an intellectual context both for the collection as a whole and for its individual pieces.
  • Be prepared to respond to comments and questions.

Facilitated Discussions

Facilitated discussions involve the arranging of attendees into groups, such as tables or round chair setup, and provide topics for discussion.  Topics can be the same for all attendees and groups, or vary by group.

  • Provide a brief introduction – remember that you are not the presenter, and the discussions are the purpose of this event.
  • Develop discussion points, topics, and questions well in advance by polling registered attendees.
  • Be willing to accept ad-hoc discussion topics relevant to the content.
  • Provide for adequate Q&A and open comment time at the end.
  • Ensure that the majority of time allotted for the event is reserved for discussion and report-back.
  • Record group report-back’s on flip charts or other method, so that attendees may view the report-back comments as they are read out, and receive a written copy after the event.
  • Foster collegial conversational exchange.
  • Mingle among the groups or tables to see if attendees are participating, but avoid becoming involved in their discussions.

Keynote Address

The keynote address is perhaps the most challenging presentation.  What you say and how well you communicate your ideas, research, findings, and experience sets the tone for the event.  High level competency and established experience are the minimum content goals.  See Oral Presentations for additional guidance.

  • Presentation much be absolutely relevant to the event.
  • This is a stand-alone presentation.
  • Be prepared to “wow” the audience with a dynamic content, excellent slides, well developed public speaking skills, and inspiration.
  • Professional credibility is presumed.

Oral Presentations

Oral presentations involve the presentation of a paper or research project with or without visual aids.  This is an excellent opportunity to share research findings with colleagues, seek comments, listen to advice, and facilitate discussion and comment.

  • Focus on the purpose, methodology, challenges, and findings of the research.
  • Report laboratory and data results, if applicable.
  • Clearly provide the reason that motivated research interest and commencement.
  • Disclose the strengths and weakness of the research process, and what was learned from failures.
  • PowerPoint presentations should be well done.  See PowerPoint Use in Presentation for more details.
  • Subject mastery is presumed.
  • Expect questions and comments that indicate doubt or disagreement, and respond collegially.
  • Include a Q&A section at the end of the presentation.
  • Provide contact information.

Panel Discussions

Panel discussions involve a limited number of panelists, usually 3-5, presenting and discussing their views on a scholarly topic and responding to audience questions.

  • Select speakers from different perspectives to give balanced presentations.
  • Before finalizing speaker selection, discuss panel content and purpose to ensure that potential speakers understand the purpose of the panel discussion.
  • Ask panelists to state their points concisely and clearly, mindful of the limited time for each panelist.
  • Anticipate questions from both the audience and panelists.
  • Defer comment and questions from the audience to panelists.
  • Provide ample time for individual presentations, statements, general discussion, and Q&A.

Peer Review Publications


Poster Sessions

Posters present a visual display of work on poster boards. Presenters should be able to provide a scholarly introduction to their work and be prepared to entertain the viewers’ questions.

  • Include both charts and pictures.
  • Develop an eye catching format and design.
  • Brevity works best, both for what is on the poster and for answering visitors.
  • Have a one-sheet handout for the main take-away points, including your contact information.
  • Have business cards available.
  • Be prepared for many repeats of your 60-second verbal summary.
  • Expect fast and furious turnovers.
  • Balance the content – not too sparse but not too detailed and complex.

PowerPoint Use in Presentations

Using PowerPoint or any slide programmed should be viewed as a supplemental visual tool for many types of presentations.  They should not be treated as “the” presentation.

  • Don’t read from the slides.
  • Look at the screen as little as possible.
  • Present from knowledge and experience, not from the slides.
  • Slides should be limited in numbers and complexity.
  • Charts, graphics, pictures, and other inserts should be simple and visually clear.
  • Sound, video, and images add value, if content relevant.
  • Use bullet points. PowerPoint slides do not need full sentences, and should never have a paragraph full of information.
  • Use images effectively. You should have as little text as possible on the slide. One way to accomplish this is to have images on each slide, accompanied by a small amount of text.
  • Slides provide focus and guidance, not full details.
  • Never put your presentation on the slides and read from the slides.


Workshops consist of a brief presentation followed by interaction with the audience. The purpose of a workshop is to introduce the audience to your subject and involve them in using a skill or technique.  Learning objectives and anticipated outcomes should be clearly stated.

  • Content should be timely and relevant.
  • Content should be take-away – attendees should be able to leave the workshop, go back to their jobs, and begin brainstorming ideas, developing strategies, and implementing projects soon.
  • Go short on theories and long on how-to methods.
  • Develop learning objectives and anticipated outcomes, and build content around these goals.
  • Develop an agenda that more resembles a syllabus.
  • Select preparation materials, such as articles and documents to read before the workshop.
  • Include data but do not overwhelm attendees with too much or complex data.
  • Provide a bibliography or list of suggested readings.

Academic Presentation Formula

Newbies are strongly encouraged to follow this formula.  Later and with experience, deviation from the formula is more feasible.

  • Introduction/Overview/Hook
  • Theoretical Framework/Research Question
  • Methodology/Case Selection
  • Background/Literature Review
  • Discussion of Data/Results
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Q&A, if permitted

The Audience Is Ready to Listen

Avoid presenting too much information about what is already known, and provide this information, if needed, in the introduction.  Only discuss literature and background information that relates directly to the topic and research results being presented.  Keep this portion of the presentation to five minutes or less.  More time will be needed for the presentation of the research results and audience questions and comments.

Practice Practice Practice

Practice the presentation from start to finish before delivering the presentation – several times.  Repeated practicing provides delivery confidence, efficient time management, and better speaking skills.  Make sure the presentation fits within the time parameters. Practicing also makes it flow better.

Keep To the Time Limit

If the time allotted for the presentation is ten minutes, prepare ten minutes of material.  Regardless of the amount of time provided, a little or a lot, finish within or at the end of the allotted time.  Practice the presentation with a stopwatch to ensure complicity.


Recommended Reading