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Characteristics of a Good Scientific Poster MBRS-RISE Summer 2009. Dr. Gail P. Taylor Asst. PD MBRS-RISE University of Texas at San Antonio Rev 6/09. Acknowledgements. ABRCMS poster Guidelines.

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characteristics of a good scientific poster mbrs rise summer 2009

Characteristics of a Good Scientific PosterMBRS-RISE Summer 2009

Dr. Gail P. Taylor


University of Texas at San Antonio

Rev 6/09

  • ABRCMS poster Guidelines.
  • Colin Purrington: Advice for designing scientific posters.
  • Knowledge Management in Health Services; HSERV 590A: Creating a Poster Using MS PowerPoint – University of Washington
  • Creating Effective Poster Presentations – Hess and Liegel.
  • University of Buffalo- Designing effective poster presentations
  • University of Kansas- Jeff Radel
what is a scientific poster
What is a Scientific Poster?
  • “Stand alone” summary of research
  • Allows for “Visually augmented” discussion
    • ~5 minutes
    • Few viewers at a time
    • Interactive
where are posters used
Where are Posters Used?
  • General – Poster days, Symposia
    • Tack up poster
    • Stand by poster (1-3 h)
    • Viewers browse and interact
  • Conferences
    • Abstract submitted
    • Limited orals (15 min ea)
    • Increased opportunity for presentation
    • Time/location included in program
  • Hallways
    • Often posted outside labs after presentation
poster benefits
Poster Benefits
  • Research presentation
  • Idea sharing
  • Practice public speaking
  • Opportunity for teaching and learning
  • Deepens understanding of topic
  • Represents you and you mentor
    • Demonstrate expertise
    • Demonstrate attention to detail
  • Builds CV
  • Create collaborations
who is your audience
Who is Your Audience?
  • People in your field
    • Will read even if bad
  • People in related fields
    • Easily persuaded to view
  • Previously uninterested passers by
    • Can be attracted by a good poster
approaching poster design
Approaching Poster Design
  • Consult rules of conference
  • Create a storyboard
  • Visually appealing
  • Primarily image driven
  • Simply and tightly written
consult rules of conference
Consult Rules of Conference
  • Size Max (board size) vs Size Requirement
  • Abstract number
  • Abstract in or out
  • Contact Information
  • Section headings
  • Font size
  • Possible “sentence case” in titles
create a storyboard
Create a Storyboard
  • Rough paper or mental sketch of your poster
  • Select/design figures/tables
    • Results and possibly Intro or Methods
  • Estimate space that will be needed
  • Select number of columns
    • Average 4 (range 3-5)
      • 36”x54” good for 4 column
      • 36”x48” good for 3 column
      • >42” tall is quite big
  • Choose headings desired
    • Abstract, Introduction, Results, etc
  • Use bulleted or numbered lists
should be visually appealing
Should be Visually Appealing
  • Understand reader “gravity”
  • Have an obvious flow
    • Headings
    • Numbers
  • Use white space to organize
  • Neutral backgrounds
visually appealing ii
Visually Appealing II
  • Carry information with colorful images and figures
  • Balance your text and images
  • Use very large font for title (1-2” high)
  • Use at least 20 pt text for body text
    • Read 4-8 feet away
    • Figure lettering must also be large enough!
    • Can make abstract, references, acknowledgements smaller
    • Don’t vary “Intro and Results” font size or type
  • Don’t use “all caps”
  • Format text to prevent sub- or superscripts from altering spacing
primarily image driven
Primarily Image Driven
  • Must be “stand alone”
  • Visitor will NOT read poster if you are there
  • You will “walk” visitor through poster
  • Poster provides visual aids as you talk
  • Can create Methods flow chart
  • Results as figures (tables if necessary)
    • You point at and describe your results
simply and tightly written
Simply and Tightly Written
  • Minimize writing and maximize visuals
    • But…must stand alone
  • Avoid long sentences and paragraphs
  • Can use figure legends/captions as text
  • Assess every sentence and word
  • Put related text and images near one another
  • *** Your Mentor is Always Right ***
  • Length and text style determined by conference
  • Optimally, identical to “paper” title:
    • Very brief summary of research
      • Omits “A study of,” “Investigations of,” etc
      • Put species studied
      • Put limiting information
      • Avoid “cute” or abbreviations
    • May or may not give results
      • Topic – Effects of phenobarbital on learning in the….
      • Conclusive – Phenobarbatal diminishes learning in the…
  • Helps people to choose which posters to view
  • Ex: Effect of Owner Education Level on Number of Cats per Household
  • Ex: FGF-2 Induces Regeneration of the Chick Limb Bud
names and affiliations
Names and Affiliations
  • Names
  • Department, University, Centers, etc
  • Address of Univ. (option)
  • Email Address (may be required)
  • Phone number (may be required)
  • Logos for Universities, Depts, Centers
  • May not be required
  • Placed in upper left of poster body
  • Preferably turned in for abstract book
  • Provide redundant information on poster
  • Approx. 300 words, 2500 characters
    • Use conf. requirements
    • Concise as possible
  • Content: Mini paper
    • Intro with Purpose (2-3 sentences if possible)
    • Hypothesis (req for student conferences; one sent)
    • Methods (2-3 sent) - general
    • Results (2-3 sent)
      • Important data
      • Significance, mean values, n, SD
    • Discussion/Conclusions (2-3 sent)
    • Acknowledgement (Funding source; 1 sent)
creating the abstract
Creating the Abstract
  • Short but time-consuming
  • Very information-dense, but simply formatted
  • Write “long” and pare down if needed
  • Analyze one sentence at a time
    • Each sentence has purpose
    • Each sentence logically follows another
  • Use plain English wherever you can
  • Use active voice when you can
  • State only your most important conclusion(s)
  • There is not good writing, only good rewriting
  • Needed even if Abstract is present
  • Or Background
  • Get viewers interested!
  • Reason you chose to study
    • Foundation for your work
    • General topics to specific
  • Make as brief as possible
  • Equiv. to 1 double spaced 12 pt page
  • Usually contain citations/references (cite!)
  • Include hypothesis
  • Generally completes first column
purpose optional
Purpose (optional)
  • Or…Objective, Aim, Goal
  • Why are you doing?
  • May include a hypothesis here or in Introduction
materials methods
  • Text with subheadings
  • Can include a flow chart to summarize
  • May include citations
  • Make sure to include:
    • subjects
    • experimental design
    • drugs and equipment used
    • statistical methods
  • Largest section
  • Often two middle columns
  • Experiments- what you found
  • Don’t present raw data
  • Make Image-based; use few words
  • Maximize use of Figures
    • Make them simple
    • Must be easily seen
    • Make all lines wide enough
    • All text large enough!
    • Consistent across poster
results cont
Results Cont:
  • Minimize use of tables
    • Difficult to grasp quickly
  • Can use figure legends/captions as text
  • 1-2 paragraphs for each image
  • Or discussion or summary
  • Summarize “take home” findings
  • How did hypothesis work out?
  • Tie back to real world problem
  • Why Important
  • Very few words
  • Bullets good
  • Bigger font if needed
  • If cited, must include reference
  • Generally “short” (title optional)
  • Can make smaller if needed
  • Should be included
  • Thank people
    • Mentor
    • Labmates
    • Technical assistance, etc.
  • Reveal possible conflicts of interest
  • Identify funding utilized while doing – McNair Scholars, RISE, etc.
  • Can be smaller than rest of text
  • Actual layout:
    • Powerpoint (one big slide)
    • Pagemaker
    • Canvas
    • Illustrator
    • Quark
    • Ask print shop about requirements
    • Print directly or convert to pdf
  • Images (compatible with printer driver!)
    • Photoshop
    • MS Photo editor
  • Tables/Graphs
    • Directly from Office (Excel or Word)
  • Has 56” maximum dimension
  • Create at full size (or nearly so) to prevent pixelation
  • Set page size to desired size
poster templates
Poster Templates…
  • Sample posters can be seen online
    • google search
  • A “template” can be found at:
Use standard formats

.jpg, .gif, .tiff, .tif, .bmp

Watch resolution of photos

72 dpi vs 300

72 dpi will look pixelated on a poster

230 dpi prints like a photo

Insert high dpi photos

Make them relatively large

Stretch to correct size

capturing images off of the web
Capturing Images off of the Web
  • Problems- resolution (72 dots per inch)
  • Okay for slides
  • Problem on print/poster
    • Find high DPI (230+ DPI or huge) images
  • In browser
    • Rt click on image
    • Save image/picture as:
    • Note image name
    • Note location where saved
  • Insert as described before
capturing screen shots
Capturing Screen Shots
  • Get what you want on screen
  • Make it as large as possible
  • Press the PrtScn button (top right keyboard)
  • Open Start/Programs/Accessories/Paint
  • Select Edit/Paste (yes to enlarge bitmap – the whole screen appears)
  • Use the selection cursor (shown right) to choose the desired area
  • Edit/copy
  • Click where you want image pasted, and paste.
good ways to insert
Good Ways to Insert…
  • Use Insert (shown)
  • Picture (or whatever)
enlarging images tables figures
Enlarging Images/Tables/Figures
  • To enlarge proportionally:
    • Click on image
    • Put cursor on corner 
    • Left click and slide diagonally
additional info
Additional Info
  • Insert individual text boxes
    • Text
    • Labeling
  • Right click on objects for sizing and formatting
  • Turn green dots for rotation
  • Drawing tools can order objects
  • Drawing tools can align objects
    • Great for sizing and location on poster!
plan flow i
Plan – Flow I
  • Opening sentences
    • Name, school, degree seeking, laboratory mentor
    • What circumstances for research?
  • Flow to introduction
    • Don’t refer to text, do refer to images
    • Why important?
    • Hypothesis
plan flow ii
Plan – Flow II
  • Move to Methods
    • Briefly summarize
    • Point at figures
  • Move to Results
    • Longest section
    • Indicate at beginning if did not work
    • Walk thru all figures
  • Transition to Conclusions
  • Say Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements (optional)
  • Any Questions?
plan transitions
Plan – Transitions
  • Develop 5-10 minute presentation
  • Know first sentence
  • What to say for each figure
  • Transitions between figures
  • What to point at for each figure
  • Finish early enough to practice
  • Practice with labmates and laymen
  • Stand to one side and point
  • Run through ENTIRE poster
  • Memorize key points!
  • Pause long enough for them look at figure
  • Know where you are going with each figure!
  • Know what questions may be asked….
    • Can practice them
transporting poster
Transporting Poster
  • Buy tube for rolling
  • Do not be separated from it
    • Plane
    • Hotel
    • Carry it yourself
  • Have it also in electronic format
  • Do not leave it at home or in car trunk
supplemental materials
Supplemental Materials
  • Mini-poster printed out
  • Poster repair kit
  • Pins
  • Business cards
  • Water
  • Notebook
now on to the real presentation
Now…on to the real presentation!
  • Dress for situation
    • Conference – suit…or minimally khaki's
    • Comfortable shoes
  • Be there on time!
  • Have Business Cards
  • Have mini-posters
  • Have friend there to help
  • Water bottle
  • Don’t leave unless it is very important to do so (if so, leave a friend there momentarily)
first contact
First Contact
  • Stand to side of poster
  • Take initiative
  • Smile, but stay near poster
  • If they come closer (~3-4 feet)
  • Say, “Hello” and shake hands
  • Give name
  • Ask them, “Would you like me to walk you through my poster,” or similar
  • Give title
  • Mention mentor’s lab and context of research.
  • (Optional) Ask if they are familiar with this field of research
    • No- More introduction, careful with acronyms
    • Yes- Can go more quickly through intro

Then…Move into Introduction…

walking them through it
Walking them through it
  • Proceed as planned, above
  • Be friendly
  • Don’t sound like you’ve memorized
  • Be excited about your work
  • Remember to refer to your poster!
  • They may interrupt with questions
  • Give extra information only if they ask
  • Networking – write down ideas and names!
  • Don’t be discouraged if only a few come!
coming home again
Coming Home Again
  • Keep promises that you’ve made
  • Drop emails to folks whom you’ve met
  • Hang poster outside of lab