With both the October GPS workshop on “Conferencing Well” (October 18th, register here) and the Fall 2022 Graduate Research Showcase on the horizon (October 20th, submit your proposal here), it’s important to set yourself up for success when publicly sharing your research. One of the best ways to share your research is by submitting a poster. Whether this is for a conference or for the upcoming Graduate Research Showcase, these tips from Alicia Briançon, a consultant at the Graduate Writing Center, will ensure you set yourself up for success. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a quick guide to using the Baylor Print Center for printing your poster.
Picture this: You are preparing for your first conference as a doctoral student. Maybe, you have a conference paper under your belt and are excited to present your findings for the first time. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to present, but the butterflies kick in, and you are not sure what poster is best. Is this like the 3rd-grade science fair, where you present with a three-fold cardboard cut-out? Should you splurge on a fabric poster? Does it even matter?
Another question you are likely asking yourself is where each section should be placed and how much text you should include.
First, to address the presentation itself, we know that how you display information matters and maybe even more than what you are presenting. Believe it or not, there is poster presentation pedagogy (of course there is!), and here are the key tips for planning and formatting conference presentations.
Checklist for medical presentations (Foster et al., 2019)
- Conference requirements (size, layout, poster ID, number of slides)
- Presentation requirements
- Contributor list
- Funding disclosure
- Conflicts of interest
- Supplementary information (QR codes)
Checklist for general research posters (Hardicre et al., 2007)
Key takeaways: Presenters report that limiting the information to include is the most difficult aspect of poster making. To avoid this challenge, use bullet points, graphs, and charts to demonstrate your points (Moore, 2001). The most commonly used font is Arial, and your poster should be easily readable at 1.5 meters away (Hardicre et al., 2007).
A great article to help you understand what each section entails is Ten Steps to a Successful Poster Presentation (Hardicre et al., 2007). According to their research, the introduction should define your topic and have key literature to add to your rationale. The title should be easy to understand, and it is not the time to get wildly creative. Include all researchers’ names, and if it is appropriate, logos should also be included. The methods section explains what you did and how you did it; diagrams are helpful. The discussion section is where you communicate to your audience what your results or findings actually mean. Ask yourself what the greater implications or impact are related to what you found in your study.
We are all encouraged to attend conferences. Having a polished and engaging poster is a winning strategy, but by incorporating the researched methods above, you could have the best poster of all. Remember, the point is not to include everything for your study on the poster. Focus on the key points so that the audience communicates with you to learn more about your work. Remember that poster presenting can feel awkward, and that is completely normal, so relax, be confident, and have fun. Happy Poster Making!
Foster, C., Wager, E., Marchington, J., Patel, M., Banner, S., Kennard, N. C., … & Stacey, R. (2019). Good practice for conference abstracts and presentations: GPCAP. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 4(1), 1-11.
Hardicre, J., Devitt, P., & Coad, J. (2007). Ten steps to successful poster presentation. British journal of nursing, 16(7), 398-401.
Moore, L. W., Augspurger, P., King, M. O. B., & Proffitt, C. (2001). Insights on the poster preparation and presentation process. Applied Nursing Research, 14(2), 100-104.
Alicia Briançon is an Ed.D candidate at Baylor in the Education department. Her research focuses on informal faculty-student contact and its impact on course retention. She teaches public speaking at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) and is a digital media consultant with a political Super PAC striving to protect our democracy. For two years at CSN, she worked with the Prison Education Program as well. She received a master’s degree in Strategic Communication from American University in Washington, DC, and a BA from the University of Maryland in College Park. She is active with the AEJMC as a Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication fellow and is a member of Kappa Delta Phi. In Las Vegas, she teaches a dance fitness class on the weekends at EOS and loves to go hiking with her partner.