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Developing Poster Presentations in the Natural Sciences

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Title: Developing Poster Presentations in the Natural Sciences


1
Developing Poster Presentations in the Natural
Sciences
2
Introduction
Welcome to the online version of the Writing
Center's Developing a Poster Presentation in the
Natural Sciences Workshop. Feel free to use the
arrow below to advance to the next slide, or you
can use the drop-down menu below to skip ahead.
3
Why Create a Poster?
Whether your poster is for a class or a
professional conference, the reason for creating
it is the same there are a lot of people with
data to present, but time does not permit
everyone to give a 10-15 minute talk. Posters for
class projects usually require a less formal
approach than do those presented at conferences
differences will be noted in some sections.
4
Critical Attributes
  • Clarity - Make your presentation easy to
    understand so that ideas can be grasped in one
    read.
  • Brevity - Your readers are standing, not sitting,
    so they will tire quickly get your point across
    using as few words as possible without
    sacrificing clarity.
  • Simplicity - Readers with 100 posters to peruse
    do not want to get bogged down by overly complex
    presentations.
  • Neatness - Looks are important, so take care when
    assembling your poster. Do not make it too fancy,
    though, and avoid a cluttered look occupy only
    65 to 75 percent of your available space.

5
Contents
  • Ingredients of a Standard Poster
  • Technical Details - size and organization,
    typefaces, and general writing tips
  • Materials and Construction
  • Generalized Example Poster

6
Ingredients of a Standard Poster
  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgments
  • Literature Cited

7
The Title
Make it descriptivethe reader should be able to
decide quickly whether to read more or not. Your
title may be better if it suggests some of your
conclusions. Make it bigyou want your title to
grab everyones attention. Include your name
below the titlereaders should know whose great
poster they are reading! Do not use the word by
in front of your name. You may also need to put
your address or class and instructors name here.
8
The Abstract
This is a very brief summary of your research.
Take the bare essentials of the introduction,
methods, results, and discussion and express them
in fewer than 200 words. Citations are typically
left out. For a class poster the abstract may be
more brief, perhaps only 50 to 100 words, or your
instructor might not require one at all. This
should be the last thing you write, but it is the
first thing the reader should see after the
title. Read some abstracts in a professional
journal to get a better idea of what goes into
one.
9
The Introduction
This is where you will put the background
information necessary to bring readers up to date
on your topic. It will also establish the
importance of your own research. If your poster
is for a class project and consists only of
library research, then the introduction, and
especially the methods and results sections,
might be omitted. Instead, create your own
sections that best organize the information you
have and give the new sections appropriate
headings. Do not forget citations!
10
The Materials and Methods Section
Do not describe in detail every step of your
experiment. Where possible, use brief descriptive
terms for procedures (e.g. gel electrophoresis)
and include citations where they are described
thoroughly if readers want to know more, they
can either ask you personally or find a cited
reference at a later time. With some additional
questions or research, your readers should be
able to reproduce your experiment.
11
The Results Section
Here you present the data you collected and the
results of any analyses you performed. Figures
and tables can be extremely effective, especially
when supplemented with a few well-written
sentences. Explanations of your data can be
placed either in the body or, if simple enough,
in the text accompanying a graphic be very clear
either way. The results section is for data
presentation only save your discussion and
conclusions for the next section.
12
The Discussion Section
This is where you discuss your findings and
present what you have concluded based on those
findings. Make sure your data actually support
your conclusions. You may want to compare all of
this with the findings of other researchers. If
your poster is based on library research only,
this section might instead be a brief summary,
but it should still sound confident and
conclusive. Readers should be left with the
feeling that they know something they did not
know previously.
13
The Acknowledgements Section
Surely there is someone with whom you discussed
in detail the topic of your poster thank them
for helping you better understand the principles
involved or for their engaging conversation.
Perhaps another person helped you find an
interesting subject to study here you can
express your gratitude for the inspiration they
gave you. Remember that there is always someone
who deserves your thanks.
14
The Literature Cited Section
If no required format has been specified, adopt
one that is used in an important journal from
your field of research. In the natural sciences
this will typically be based on APA guidelines.
Make sure all of the citations in your text refer
to a document or communication listed in this
section. Conversely, make sure that each listing
is cited at least once in your poster. Note,
however, that a bibliography is different and may
contain more references than are cited in the
text.
15
Technical Details
  • Size and Organization
  • Typefaces to Use
  • General Writing Tips

16
Size and Organization
The size allowed for your poster will probably be
specified to you. For class posters, standard
56x71cm poster board is often used, and 4x6ft is
the limit commonly imposed at professional
meetings. Your readers should be guided from one
section of your poster to the next. This can be
accomplished most naturally by arranging sections
in vertical columns from left to right. Figures
can go anywhere near related text.
17
Size and Organization Example
18
Typefaces to Use
  • Try "Times New Roman," or another easily readable
    typeface at different sizes
  • The poster should be easily read from 6 ft away
  • For the title, try 36 or 48 point type make your
    name one size smaller and the rest here two sizes
    smaller
  • The body, from the abstract through the
    acknowledgments section, should be 20 to 26 point
    type if your abstract will already have been
    published in a meeting schedule, make it a size
    or two smaller
  • For text associated with tables and figures, try
    16 point type
  • Try 12 or 14 point type for the literature cited
    section

19
General Writing Tips
  • Do not use contractions (i.e., "don't" or
    "can't")
  • Use only standard and commonly used abbreviations
    (such as i.e. and e.g.)
  • Use a spell checker
  • Justify all text for a neater look

20
Materials and Construction
  • Foam core from a craft store can be messy, but
    some people like it for the main poster material.
  • Matte board from a framing store is heavy but
    sturdy, and it is not at all messy I prefer it.
  • Try using construction paper as a matte to go
    between text sheets and the primary board use a
    combination of simple colorsone for the main
    board and another for mattethat looks pleasing.
  • With text justified, nearly everything can be cut
    square for a neater look cut your matte ½ to ¾
    in. larger per side than your text paper.
  • Spray adhesives made by 3M and others work very
    well, but be careful they adhere instantly!
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