Poster Presentations

Why, What, How of Posters  

According to Colin Purrington (dept of bio, Swathmore), here's the one sentence explanation of the existential/epistemological value of the scientific poster.

A scientific poster is a large document that can communicate your research at a scientific meeting, and is composed of a short title, an introduction to your burning question, an overview of your trendy experimental approach, your amazing results, some insightful discussion of aforementioned results, a listing of previously published articles that are important to your research, and some brief acknowledgement of the tremendous assistance and financial support conned from others—if all text is kept to a minimum, a person could fully read your poster in under 10 minutes.

The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience in creating and "performing" poster presentations, an important form of communication at academic conferences.  To this end, you will create a poster of your research following advice given by a variety of folks, but especially Michael Alley and Colin Purrington (see links above).  Conferences and labs often have their own specifications for what goes on a poster (ex: Purrington says "no abstract" but some labs require them), so check with your PI for lab-specific requirements.

The Poster

Prepare the poster itself using Power Point or Corel (or whatever programs you can use), following the dimensions suggested in the "Poster Presentation Workshop" (unless your discipline/lab PI says otherwise).  Posters will be printed (current cost is $12.00) and you'll deliver your poster at a multi-class conference (see schedule for date/time).  You do not need to mount or laminate your poster (great idea for actual conferences, particularly lamination).  This method saves you anywhere from $50.00 to $500.00 in printing costs, so what we lose in authenticity, we gain in food and gas money.  

The Poster Session

The "Presentation"-- You should prepare a maximum 120 second (2 minute) answer to a general question like "So, what is your project about?" or "Tell me about your work."  This answer should include a statement of the topic, why it's significant, your research question, brief explanation of your methodology, most important results, and implications/applications of your work.   This is the question your instructor will ask (that's me!) and for which you will receive points.  I highly recommend that you prepare this answer and be fairly comfortable delivering it, though of course, it will sound natural and spontaneous when you actually deliver it! See the Power Point workshop for details.

The Poster Handout

Prepare a single page copy of your poster (8 1/2 x 11, color or b/w) with your abstract or overview, key references, and contact information printed on the back.  For a real poster session, you'd bring 50 or so of these, so that interested parties could take it along with them (rather like a brochure).  For class, you'll be turning this in with your research report.


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