Preparing An Effective Scientific Poster. July 11, 2008 Summer Program in Computational Biology (SPCB) Seminar Series Kathy Lee Sutphin UMBC College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences. What is a scientific poster?.
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July 11, 2008
Summer Program in Computational Biology (SPCB) Seminar SeriesKathy Lee Sutphin
UMBC College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences
A scientific poster is a method of professional communication that visually tells the comprehensive, but condensed, story of a research project. While a poster can be effective alone, a presenter at a planned gathering enhances the poster by engaging interested visitors in dialogues that
“Criticism and testing are of the essence of our work. This means that science is a fundamentally social activity, which implies that it depends on good communication.”
1Quoted by Robert A. Day in How to Write & Publish a Scientific Paper. The Oryx Press (1998) p. ix.
One Sheet Poster
Multiple Panel Poster - which can be mounted on colorful poster board
on a special printer
or a …
Most opportunities to present a poster begin
with the requirement to submit
of a defined length and style
summarizing the research that will be presented
The suggested content of an abstract may vary but often includes:
It is critical that student researchers work with their mentors to write, review and submit the abstract
Summary of major findings and Conclusions
Future directions, if appropriate
AcknowledgementsSTEP 2 - Plan the Core Poster Elements
The student researcher’s mentor determines who will be listed as the poster author or coauthors and if contact information should be included.
THINK BIG - can the title be read from 15-20 feet away?Poster Title
The title of the poster is important -
make it interesting!
The project overview and background of the topic area are always important
(The abstract will probably be included
in an event program book -
so save space and avoid redundancy)
Provide the methodology or approach used for the investigation
Summarize the major findings
What is the take away message of
this research project report?
Include the future directions of this research, if appropriate
Future directions are optional but often appropriate
for a poster reporting on a limited-duration project
Acknowledge organizations and agencies that contributed fundingto the project, especially through extramural supportAcknowledgements
The Research Mentor and/or
Program Coordinator can provide guidance
Plan the layout of the elements
It is not necessary to fill all of the space - do not “clutter” your posterSTEP 3 - Planning the Poster
Vertical- sequential elements in columns
Horizontal - sequential information in rows
Which layout is best?
Vertical - When information is presented in columns, this layout enables the poster elements to be viewed in progression and helps to prevent traffic jams
Helpful Hint: The most important elements of a poster should be displayed at the viewer’s eye level - which is often about one foot from the top of the poster board
When the layout is finalized, sketch it on a piece of paper to use as a helpful reminder when assembling the poster
font size of
If it is too small, people will move to next poster
Colors and Font sizes -
Identify and give the ‘take home’ message for the poster - the one thing the presenter would like a visitor to remember about the project
Include a summary of the poster’s most important points
Use bullets and/or boldface to emphasize important information
Define all technical terms used throughout a poster
(Hint: An element listing these definitions can be very helpful to visitors.)
Minimize Text -
Maximize Illustrations and Cartoons
(Hint: A poster is not a research paper.)
Avoid long blocks of text and
Use small chunks of information
(Hint: Edit, Edit, Edit to get to the core messages of the poster.)
~ 2 inch Border
For Multiple Panel Posters: Mount each element on a piece of colored cardboard. Some presenters use page protectors, which guard against moisture and allow for quick revisions.Consider having a 36” banner printed with your title information for your presentation.
(Hint: Some presenters number the backs of the mounted elements in sequential order)
For One Sheet Posters:
Use the 36” x 44” template available on the UMBC SURF & Graphics Studio websites
Remember that errors are most readily corrected at the last minute on panel posters vs. one sheet posters
EMBARC: “This investigation was supported, in part, by UMBC and the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites Program Award DBI-0453294.” OR
SPCB: “This investigation was supported, in part, by UMBC and the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites Program Award DMS-0354034.”
If you have additional supporting data that cannot be included in your poster due to space limitations, consider handouts to share with engaged visitors.
Also, some presenters provide business cards or summaries with contact information to interested persons.
(This is optional!)
Participants will use the SURF website to register for the CNMS Summer Undergraduate Research Fest at UMBC and to submit their abstracts by the submission deadline of midnight, Wednesday, July 23, 2008.
Research Mentors, UMBC faculty, guests and other guests are asked to use the website to register their planned attendance as soon as possible and by July 30, 2008 - so that an approximate number of attendees can be given to UMBC’s caterer.
Eleventh Annual UMBC Summer Undergraduate Research Fest
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
First Floor Gallery of the
Albin O. Kuhn Library
Details and poster assignments will be posted on the SURF website closer to the event. Please visit:
All participants must prepare their abstracts using Microsoft Word (using the extension ‘.doc’)
The abstract should fit on one 8.5” x 11” page and use 12-point text and one inch margins on all four sides.
There is a 300-word maximum for the body of the abstract not including the acknowledgement. Abstracts can be less than 300 words but abstracts longer than 300 words will be returned to the student for rewriting.
All abstracts must be reviewed and approved by each student’s research mentor or by an individual authorized by the mentor to review and approve the abstract. The mentors must confirm to the SURF Review Staff that they have reviewed and approved the abstract with the understanding that the abstract will appear in an event program book and may be posted on-line. This can be done on-line at:http://www.umbc.edu/SummerResearchFest/registration07/facultyresponse.php
DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACT SUBMISSION
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Students should submit their abstracts to their research mentors so there is sufficient time to edit the abstract. Talk about this now so that you know what deadline to use for your mentor’s review of your work to ensure you meet the July 23rd SURF abstract submission deadline for 2008.
Use the Student Presenter’s First Initial and Last Name Plus the word “Abstract” as the file name for the student abstract.
Remember, it is essential for you to ask and receive permission in advance from your mentor for any and all additional presentations of your summer research. This is critical!
Special thanks to Zoe Warwick, Ph.D., Stephen Miller, Ph.D., and Lasse Lindahl, Ph.D. for their assistance with this presentation, which has been refined from several prior presentations. Kathy Lee Sutphin - July 10, 2008 ©