Preparing a Scientific Poster
LuAnn Wilkerson, Ed.D.
Sr. Assoc. Dean for Medical
Education
Special Thanks to Alan LeFor, M.D.
and Michael Galinda, MD
Overview
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Planning a Poster Presentation
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Preparing the Poster
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“The Science”
“The Mechanics”
Critique some Posters
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Putting it all together
The Science: Planning your
Poster
State a research question
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Determine your purpose
State the question that guided your
research
Check the literature
Share it with several people
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Are any of the terms vague?
Does it seem important? Interesting?
Refine
Know your audience
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Professional specialty
Placement in the meeting
Probable attendees for this session
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Level of expertise with this topic
Interests
Setting
Determine your main points
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Distill to a single story supported by 3-4 facts.
Be selective.
Leave room for
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Introduction
Examples and explanations
Visual displays
Summary
Plan for a visual impact
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Readable from 5-6 feet away
Does/Does Not Test
 Clear organization
 Stress of main points
 Visual illustration
Charts, graphs, pictures
Color for emphasis
Special features
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Abstract is NOT generally included
Reference list is not required or limited
Case Report
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Learning objective
Case description -- brief and riveting
Discussion
Implication -- single sentence linked to objective
Literature Review
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Begin with the “problem” or case
Group by findings
Use first author name et al, date. Hand out list.
Common Problems
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Inappropriate level for the audience
Disorganized format
Too much detail included
Poor visuals
No interaction with the viewers
The Mechanics
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Title
Introduction
Methods
Results
Conclusions
Title
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Select a title that communicates
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Brief
Attention grabbing
Author and mentor
Institution
Introduction
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Why is this question important?
Current perspective in the literature
Readability
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Bullet points
A few sentences
Methods
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Amount of detail is determined by how
common the methodology is used
Photograph of any special equipment
Readability
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Divide into sample, instrumentation,
analysis
Bullet points are fine
Results
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Highest readability
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Clear statement of key findings
Bullet points or single sentences
Consider use of color
Graphs / Charts
Data Tables
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Limit to essential cells
If you include a large table, consider a
“blow up” of the essential cells
Conclusions
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Implications
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Patient care
Changed scientific understandings
Future research
Readability
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Succinct
Bulletted
My Special Patient
Stella Resident, MD, with Michael Galinda, MD
Internal Medicine Residency Program, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Learning
Objectives
• Use action verbs describing your learning goals
Discussion
for the reader, usually recognize, diagnose,
manage, etc.
Case Description
• An exquisitely brief and riveting synopsis of
the case.
• Adhere to the standard sequence of HPI ->
PMH -> Fam/SocHx -> PE -> Labs ->
Studies. However, not all of the above are
necessarily relevant, and may not all be
included.
Planningof the poster
Preparing
•Lessons that the case
has to teach, and how a
case like this should
change the way doctors
think drives the structure
of the entire poster.
• Break your discussion into
several headings. E.g.
Pathophysiology, Epidemiology,
Clinical Findings, Diagnostic
Workup, Treatment Options.
• If a common presentation of an
uncommon disease, explain how
it’s like other cases.
Figure 1. Chest X-ray
• Consider breaking the case into sections
(e.g. HPI, PMH, PE). Use visual dividers to
separate sections.
• If an uncommon presentation of
a common disease, explain how
it is special.
• Discuss what factors might have
led to this unusual presentation.
• Avoid bold controversial
recommendations.
• Use tables and charts to
highlight key points.
• Not all of your scholarship needs
to be in the poster, but you
should be ready to quote the
important literature as needed
when they ask you questions
• Do not include an abstract or
references in the poster!!
• ROS should be included in the HPI only
when it contributes to making the
presentation interesting.
Implications
• Give a brief description of the treatment
course and finish with the patient’s last
known outcome.
Figure 2. EKG
• Wrap up the points on how your case should impact clinical practice
• Are there broader policy considerations that make your case even more
compelling?
Mechanical Factors
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Know the dimensions you are allowed
Bring your own tacks!
Use an appropriate font size. ALWAYS use a
sans serif font (e.g. Arial vs Times). Don’t MIX
fonts
Format choices
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Individual slides in landscape orientation mounted
on poster board with banner title
Single banner poster
Cost
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Poster board, spray mount: About $15
One piece professionally printed: $3651 (see Class of 2012 STTP website)
A well-done poster session:
Priceless!!!!!
Putting It All Together
Posters from a surgical
meeting
Photographs by Alan Lefor, MD
Get ready…Go!
Interact with your audience
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Ask if you can tell them more.
Describe the purpose in one sentence
Describe the methodology concisely.
Stress the unique contributions
Be on the watch for new ideas!
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Cedars-Sinai Surgical Residency Training Program