How to Make a Research Poster
Who is your audience? Is it the general public? Your peers?
How is your poster going to be presented? Will you be standing next to it to answer questions? Will it be put up on display when you are not around?
These are important questions to ask yourself before you begin your poster. You need to make sure the content on the poster is appropriate for your audience. You may choose to use more lay terms if the general public will be looking at your research poster verses a presentation to your peers. Regardless of your audience your poster needs to have all relevant information, any findings, as well as your conclusion of what those findings signify. How your poster is presented can help you determine how much information to put on your poster. You are generally limited in the size of the area you will be given, so you need to share enough information to be informative, but you may have to omit information in order to meet the size requirements. If you will be standing next to your poster you can answer any questions that may arise. On the other hand, if you will not be present while your poster is on display, it is important that your poster have all details of you project on it, in a clear and concise manner. If you are unsure of the presentation method, present the information as thoroughly as possible.
Components of your poster
1. Your Research Question and project title: Your research question should be a specific and testable question. Use all or part of your question as your title.
2. Hypothesis: This section should be a statement of what you predict will be the outcome of your research.
3. Abstract: This section should be a summary of your research in one paragraph, using 100 words or less. Make sure it includes your research question, hypothesis, procedure and conclusions.
4. Background information: This section should be information that supports your research question and stated in a scientific way. For example, you can discuss how you come up with your research question. You were talking with a peer and they noted that their bird species differed depending on the season. You want to know if this is true in your area too. In this section, you build your case as to why your current study is of scientific interest. This is done by summarizing related studies that relate directly to your own. Do not just present a list. It is important to cite sources in the introduction section of your paper as evidence of the claims you are making
5. Procedure: This section should include a summary of the protocols used to collect your data. You may cite the source instead of writing it out the whole protocol.
a) Example: We maintained the Collembola culture using the methods described in Teaching Ecosystem Complexity website, 11/06. You should include photos or maps of your site with a diagram of your research areas.
6. Results and Data: Your data, including the statistical analysis should be presented in a format that is easy to read and interpret. Usually this is done using graphs. Make sure they have a title, axis labeles and keys to the data points. You may also need to use a table; these also need to be labeled properly.
7. Conclusion: This section is where you bring all the information together. Refer to your data when you consider the following question. Discuss your hypothesis, was it proven? What inferences can you make? Can you explain what happened if things didn’t go as proposed? This should be a convincing and well-organized section. A good conclusion will have evidence of careful analysis and thought.
8. Appearance: Your poster should have a professional appearance. It should be well balanced and visually appeasing. Graphics should be used to enhance the appearance, but need to be relevant to the project.
These components should be considered the backbone of your poster. The actual format you use to display your poster will vary. You may choose to use a tri-fold poster board, individual panels, or a plotter printer. Regardless of presentation format, your poster components will always be the same.