Academic posters are widely used, typically in academic conferences, as a way to summarize and concisely present information in order to generate a larger discussion.
These posters are usually a mixture of brief text mixed with tables, graphs, pictures, etc. When these posters are presented at conferences, the poster author(s) stand with the poster while other conference attendees come by and view the presentation and have the opportunity to comment and ask the poster author(s) questions.
The website, posterpresentations.com, provides a variety of templates that allow you to turn a PowerPoint into an academic poster. Choose from a variety of templates, poster sizes, and color schemes, then add your text, pictures, graphics, and figures. Check with your instructors to see if there are specific requirements for your posters before you get started.
Your poster should include:
An abstract is a concise summary of your paper. An effective abstract will inform the reader of the scientific hypothesis being tested, the purpose, or “why”, of the study, the main methods, important results and conclusions in only one paragraph. When writing an abstract for a publication or presentation, there is always a maximum word or character count. Many scientists choose to write the abstract last.
Different fields of science have slightly different requirements and formats for abstracts. Here is a general guideline:
A good introduction section should do two things. First, it provides context for your work by describing what is already known in the field, as well as an unknown that your research is addressing. The latter is often called the gap in knowledge. Second, it should identify your scientific question and hypothesis. Usually, the introduction starts broadly, describing the work of other scientists. It is important to summarize this work (do not quote) and to properly cite the work.
When writing your introduction, it is often helpful to start at the end. Identify your scientific question, your hypothesis and the gap of knowledge first. Then brainstorm what you will need to tell your readers in terms of context and background.
For your lab poster, your materials and methods section will detail your analysis of the data. Since this is a poster and not an article, you do not need to worry about including all the details and can keep it pretty brief. Don’t provide any of your results, just the methods. Scientists usually write this section of their paper first, followed by the results section. Some other things you might include would be what type of statistical analysis you decided to do.
The Results section is where you will detail your data in the form of figures, tables and written text. Begin by creating your tables and figures. Place the figures and tables in order of how you want to present them and name them Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Table 2, etc.
In your written narrative of the results, you should go through each figure in order, emphasizing any important results from each one. As you discuss each figure, you will reference the figure or table in parentheses. For example: “RT-PCR analysis shows an increase in gene expression for gene X (Fig 2).” It is important that you present your data clearly and in a logical manner.
Have fun playing around with how to organize your figures with the text to make the poster look professional. You need a minimum of 2 figures for your poster.
The discussion section of the paper is your chance to analyze and interpret your results. Consider the following questions when writing your discussion:
All the references that you cite on your poster must be present in a References section. The reference section can be listed in either alphabetical order or by order of appearance. Most of your sources will be scientific journals and should use the following format:
Authors (year) “Title.” Journal Name, vol. #, page #s, DOI
Example of an online article that is also in print:
Haussecker D., Huang Y., Lau A., Parameswaran P., Fire A. Z. and M. A. Kay (2010) “Human tRNA-derived small RNAs in the global regulation of RNA silencing.” RNA, Vol. 16, page 637-695, doi:10.1261/rna.2000810
Example of an article that is online only:
Marianes, A. and A. C. Spradling (2013) “Physiological and stem cell compartmentalization within the Drosophila midgut.” eLife, doi:10.7554/eLife.00886
To save space on our posters, we will number our references 1 through 5 and use the numbers as citations throughout the text of your poster.
Here's some tips to make your poster eye-catching and easily readable: