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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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preparing an effective scientific poster

Preparing An Effective Scientific Poster

July 11, 2008

Summer Program in Computational Biology (SPCB) Seminar SeriesKathy Lee Sutphin

UMBC College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

what is a scientific poster
What is a scientific poster?

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

  • explain the research,
  • expand the provided information, and
  • ensure the visitor leaves with the desired take-away message about the project.
why share the information
Why share the information?

“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.”

-Hermann Bondi1

1Quoted by Robert A. Day in How to Write & Publish a Scientific Paper. The Oryx Press (1998) p. ix.

why give scientific posters
Why give Scientific Posters?
  • To serve as a basis for structured communication
  • To convey findings in scientific research
  • To share ideas with colleagues
  • To get criticism and constructive input to the project
  • To serve as an alternative to longer oral presentations
  • To learn how to organize and effectively present research data
two types of posters
Two Types of Posters

One Sheet Poster

Banner-style title

Multiple Panel Poster - which can be mounted on colorful poster board

Large

documentprinted

on a special printer

or a …

what is the best format
What is the best format?
  • Various formats can be used successfully
  • There is no single ‘ideal’ format for all poster presentations
how to produce a poster
How to produce a poster
  • Software programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint™, can be helpful in creating a professional display
  • Posters that do not use dark-colored backgrounds save ink and take less time to dry
  • UMBC Illustrative Services offers a template to use for one sheet posters and another template for 36” banners to use with the multiple panel posters
effective posters share the following traits
Effective posters share the following traits:
  • Viewer-friendly style with large (not small) typeface & informative subheadings
  • Use pictures, drawing and cartoons to present the majority of the information
  • Small offerings of information vs. long paragraphs of text (bullets not sentences)
  • Logical and orderly progression of presentation of information
  • Summary statement(s) of key aspects
  • Easily understood language without jargon or undefined acronyms
step 1 begin with an abstract
STEP 1 - Begin with an Abstract

Most opportunities to present a poster begin

with the requirement to submit

an abstract

of a defined length and style

summarizing the research that will be presented

The suggested content of an abstract may vary but often includes:

  • Background
  • Research question
  • Approach and experiments
  • Results of key experiments
  • Conclusion

It is critical that student researchers work with their mentors to write, review and submit the abstract

step 2 plan the core poster elements
Interpretation and discussion of findings

Summary of major findings and Conclusions

Future directions, if appropriate

Acknowledgements

STEP 2 - Plan the Core Poster Elements
  • The title of the poster with author(s) & affiliations
  • Overview/Background of the topic area
  • Statement of the project’s purpose
  • Citations and Definitions of technical terms, as needed
  • Methodology/Materials
  • Findings/Data/Results
poster title
Include the Author(s), department(s), affiliations and/or institutions, and, often, contact information

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!

overview and background
Do not just repeat the abstract, which will be too wordy for this purpose Overview and Background

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)

statement of purpose
Is the research

question for the investigation included?

Provide a statement of the project’s purpose

Statement of Purpose

Think of the audience and their level of expertise on the topics presented

Why is the research relevant

to the audience?

definitions citations
Check with the research mentor for guidance

Do not plagiarize - always use citations

Definitions & Citations

If technical terms are used, provide definitions

methodology and materials
Include brief notes onmaterials and resources, like special equipment, used in the investigation Methodology and Materials

Provide the methodology or approach used for the investigation

findings data results
Avoid the TMI Trap -

too much information

clutters a poster presentation

Limit the Legends

Findings, Data & Results

Charts, graphs and figures of key points are most appropriate

Please remember: data always‘are’ (not ‘is’)

interpretation and discussion of findings
Were there expected or unexpected outcomes? Interpretation and Discussion of Findings

What does it all mean and why does it matter?

Explain why the results were significant or not.

research summary and conclusions
Conclusions will pull the information presented together for the audience Research Summary and Conclusions

Summarize the major findings

What is the take away message of

this research project report?

future directions
Will the researcher or his/her successor continue work on this investigation? Future Directions

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

acknowledgements
Acknowledge individuals who contributed comments and ideasto the project

Acknowledge organizations and agencies that contributed fundingto the project, especially through extramural support

Acknowledgements

The Research Mentor and/or

Program Coordinator can provide guidance

step 3 planning the poster
Plan using the size allotted for each poster presentation; the 2008 SURF preferred maximum size is 36” wide by 44” long

Plan the layout of the elements

It is not necessary to fill all of the space - do not “clutter” your poster

STEP 3 - Planning the Poster
slide22

Two Basic Poster Layouts

Vertical- sequential elements in columns

slide23

Two Basic Poster Layouts

Horizontal - sequential information in rows

slide24

Two Basic Poster Layouts

Which layout is best?

slide25

Two Basic Poster Layouts

Vertical - When information is presented in columns, this layout enables the poster elements to be viewed in progression and helps to prevent traffic jams

slide26

Poster Layouts

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

slide27

Poster Layouts

When the layout is finalized, sketch it on a piece of paper to use as a helpful reminder when assembling the poster

tips for effective posters
Tips for Effective Posters

Use a

minimum

font size of

18

If it is too small, people will move to next poster

tips for effective posters29
Tips for Effective Posters

Colors and Font sizes -

  • Titles: 90 pt for long titles & 100 pt for short titles
  • Typical Affiliation line: 65-70 pt
  • Text: 24-36 pt
  • Font: Use normal, dark colors. No light colors
  • Background: Avoid dark background colors
tips for effective posters30
Tips for Effective Posters

Make the

poster

presentation

understandable

to educated

laypeople

tips for effective posters31
Tips for Effective Posters

Identify and give the ‘take home’ message for the poster - the one thing the presenter would like a visitor to remember about the project

tips for effective posters32
Tips for Effective Posters

Include a summary of the poster’s most important points

Use bullets and/or boldface to emphasize important information

tips for effective posters33
Tips for Effective Posters

Define all technical terms used throughout a poster

(Hint: An element listing these definitions can be very helpful to visitors.)

tips for effective posters34
Tips for Effective Posters

Minimize Text -

Maximize Illustrations and Cartoons

(Hint: A poster is not a research paper.)

tips for effective posters35
Tips for Effective Posters

Avoid long blocks of text and

Use small chunks of information

(Hint: Edit, Edit, Edit to get to the core messages of the poster.)

tips for effective posters36
Tips for Effective Posters

~ 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)

Panel #1

Panel #2

Panel #3

tips for effective posters37
Tips for Effective Posters

For One Sheet Posters:

Use the 36” x 44” template available on the UMBC SURF & Graphics Studio websites

tips for effective posters38
Tips for Effective Posters
  • Reed over for errrors nd ommisssions
  • Use the cheek sppellling feetures on youre komputer

Remember that errors are most readily corrected at the last minute on panel posters vs. one sheet posters

tips for effective posters39
Tips for Effective Posters
  • Make sure to include an approved acknowledgement statement at the conclusion of your presentation, such as:

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.”

presenting the poster
Presenting the Poster
  • Dress in business attire (no jeans)
  • Chewing gum and baseball capsdetract from your presentation
  • Stand beside your poster during your entire scheduled session to invite discussion - don’t block the view of your work
  • Be aware of all visitors
  • Relax and enjoy the opportunity to share your research project
presenting the poster41
Presenting the Poster
  • Prepare a 10-30 second introduction to your research to engage visitors
  • Explain why your research project matters, especially to the general population
  • If there is interest, offer a quick tour of one-to-two minutes and
  • Remember to point to relevant poster elements during the quick tour
  • Don’t forget to emphasize your “take-home” message in a 30-second summary.
presenting the poster42
Presenting the Poster

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!)

important notes
Important Notes

http://www.umbc.edu/SummerResearchFest/Registration08/index.php

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.

important notes48
Important Notes

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:

http://www.umbc.edu/SummerResearchFest/

abstract submission
Abstract Submission

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.

abstract submission50
Abstract Submission

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

abstract submission51
Abstract Submission

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.

Example “SutphinKAbstract.doc”

finally
Finally
  • Use the Internet to discover a treasure trove of information about creating effective scientific posters - For example:

http://www.siam.org/meetings/guidelines/poster.php

  • Seek advice from your research mentor and members of your research lab as your poster reflects their work
  • Practice giving your poster presentation with colleagues

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 ©