Science Research Poster: Poster Content
The science research poster is a visual presentation of your scientific results--results that you intend to share with the public. A poster differs from a talk--a good poster, in order to capture your audience, must be eye-catching, well-organized, succinct, and legible. It should be easily readable from 4 feet away. A balance between words, pictures, tabular and visual representations of data (e.g. graphs, drawings, sketches) is important.
The main sections of the poster and a brief description of each section are listed below. However, you may also want to view this YouTube video and consider the alternative poster format it proposes. Here is another great site for poster tips. And here are some tips on using error bars in a figure.
Title: The title should be descriptive but short, in large, boldface letters. The author's name(s) and university affiliation(s) follow and may be in smaller letters. In most cases, your faculty sponsor should be listed as the last author but make sure that your faculty research sponsor wants her/his name listed--some do not or would prefer to be listed in acknowledgements only. Most science is collaborative and so there are multiple authors. A discussion about authorship and order of authors should occur with your faculty sponsor; convention varies widely by discipline.
Abstract (optional): A brief description of the topic, scope, principal findings, and conclusion should be contained in the abstract. Some fields restrict an abstract to as few as 50-100 words, others allow more leeway. Note: Because the poster title and abstract are commonly published (e.g. in poster session booklet) most people feel it is not necessary to include the abstract on the poster too.
Introduction: This section should include relevant background information, including a short review of published research, a description of your study, and a clear statement of project hypothesis. Provide information that places your specific work in a larger context.
Materials and methods: Briefly describe experimental equipment and methods. Include enough detail to allow others to understand what was done and to evaluate the appropriateness of the experimental design and technique. Consider using figures and tables to illustrate experimental design, flow charts to summarize reactions steps or procedures, or a photograph or labeled drawing of the organism.
Results: This is a summarized report of your observations, not your interpretation of the results. Remember that this is primarily a visual, rather than verbal, presentation. Graphic representation of data is almost always more effective than tables or text. Present data analysis that specifically address the hypothesis. There is often additional data that does not make it into the poster.
Discussion and Conclusion: Was your hypothesis supported? Discuss why your results are conclusive and interesting. Relate your findings to other research and cite appropriately. Make recommendations for related future research see also next section.
Future Work: This section is optional but many scientists will share what are the next steps in their work. Based on the conclusions from your study, what are logical new questions? To compliment your study, what other work needs to be done to address the overarching goals of the work?
References: A list of sources that are cited in your poster in the preferred format of your discipline.
Acknowledgements: Thank individuals for specific contributions to the project. Include your faculty sponsor (Dr. First Last, academic dept., university -or- Firstname/Last Name/ PhD, dept./ university) ) if they are not an author. Don't forget to mention sources of funding (grant, SRF program, FDC, NSF/REU, etc)
Put the year somewhere on your poster. That's important because we have many posters hanging around our science buildings and want to tell when the projects were done.
What software program should I use to set up my poster?
Powerpoint is suggested and the new plotter handles both Mac and Microsoft versions well. Use a single slide and do not overlap text box margins. Follow the set of step-by-step instructions located in the notebook that is kept in the plotter room and you should have minimal problems.
For the SRF Annual Poster Session
Size Information: If using landscape orientation, 36* inches is the max. width due to paper size and 48-52 inches length suggested.
Choosing COLORS: Notice to all faculty and students using the Plotter located on 2nd Fl. Julian by Geosciences suite--
I've used our plotter to plot a poster with a large number of color choices and the corresponding codes (hexadecimal & rgb percentages), and have mounted in on the wall in the plotting room (Julian 220). You can use these color chips/codes to choose colors in your software program and be reasonably sure that the color will match accordingly when a poster is plotted using our plotter and current settings.