Monday, July 22, 2013

Resources for Poster Tips

It's that time of the summer... our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) students are starting to think about and draft their research posters. I love this part of the summer! It's great to see students get excited about sharing the culmination of ten weeks of research experiences in glorious, giant poster format. This is usually their very first scientific poster though so our lab has collected a plethora of resources for them to use as guidelines which are now, conveniently, located here.

Short Summaries of Tips
The legendary overwhelming (but awesome) 
poster session at SfN. (Source
Society for Neuroscience Poster Tips 
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) holds an annual meeting each year that averages about 30,000 attendees who present thousands of posters over the span of a few days. It's a big deal and my favorite meeting to attend! These are some general guidelines that are applicable even if your poster won't be presented at the SfN meeting.

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting which includes six societies from related disciplines (alphabetized so no one's feelings get hurt if I list their society last): American Association of Anatomists (The other triple A: AAA), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP),  American Society for Nutrition (ASN), American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), and the American Physiological Society (APS). The tips here are brief but to the point. The bullet about Balance is particularly important.

The American Physiological Society has their own tips for posters as well.

At my institution, most of us are still stuck on using Microsoft Powerpoint to create our conference posters even though some people abhor it and do NOT recommend it. This presentation explains why Adobe Illustrator is a better choice and also has some good, concrete guidelines on font size, bringing copies of your poster to hand out, etc.

Video, tips, and a great Quick Reference with a summary of tips. The Quick Reference guide also includes many other poster tip resources from the primary literature.

Here's a checklist for when you think you're done (but you're really probably not... remember, your PI still has to read it and cover it with red ink). 

More Detailed and Longer Explanations of Creating Great Posters

This is a go-to resource that many PIs point their students to. Great information covering everything from the template, content, Dos and Don’ts, and motivational advice on preparing posters.

Scicurious's Poster Tips (very thorough with examples of good and bad, plus she's funny) 
Bethany Brookshire, aka Scicurious, wrote this awhile back and there are some great comments! She then updated it to reflect her, um, maturing tastes when it comes to poster design (dark colored backgrounds with white text aren't the best after all). It's a great post with examples of good and bad text (you don't get this with a lot of tips resources, which are generally aimed at a broad audience) plus, she's funny. We like a little funny while we're sucking down caffeine and working longer hours to create the best poster imaginable.  

Better Posters blog
Dr. Zen Faulkes has a lot of great information on his blog! More about style than content, which is almost just as important as the experimental data because more people stop by a poster if the style is clear and easy to understand than if it’s just a wall of text. Just be careful, it’s easy to spend an entire day just reading his posts and getting ideas!

Examples of Posters
  • Also, make sure to use Google to find posters in your discipline, example: biomedical science conference posters or neuroscience (hey, I'm biased, ok?) conference posters. 
And if you're an REU student visiting my blog or a first time poster creator, I wish you the best of luck on your first poster session! Don't forget to practice your spiel, especially with a friend or colleague who's NOT in the same discipline as you. Keep it short and sweet and let them ask questions. If you don't know the answer, look it up and it will help you be prepared for anyone who walks up!

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