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Poster Session Tips
Introduction: A poster session provides an opportunity to present research in a visual and
interactive way and discuss findings with conference participants in an individual, informal
manner. Many new presenters mistakenly assume that a poster presentation is of lower quality
on comparison to giving a speech at a conference. While there may be a perceived increase in
"vitae" power, posters actually have many advantages over traditional oral presentations
More people can and will see your work
Longer presentation time than a 15-20 minute speech
Greatly enhanced chance for personal one-on-one interaction
Cross discipline interaction (almost everyone looks at posters)
Lower stress in the creation & delivery process
Increased likelihood of acceptance at the conference
Sounds like a pretty good opportunity doesn't it? And keep in mind that submitting a proposal
for an oral presentation does not restrict you from submitting a poster proposal as well! If you
are going to spend a lot of money to travel across the country for a conference then it is
probably in your best interest to maximize the potential benefits and hedge your bets, so to
speak. There are times in which an oral presentation is returned to a presenter to ask if they
would consider giving it as a poster presentation instead. The researcher should not be
disappointed by this because the scheduling commitments of the organization, number of
volunteers, limited rooms, number and quality of proposals, submission dates, etc., all impact
how many oral presentations can be given.
Getting Started on your Poster Proposal: A proposal for a poster presentation typically follows
the same format as other proposals. Space is limited (600 - 800 words*) so try to stick to the
point. The proposal should include the following:
Title - Something that describes your presentation and has a little bit of a catchy edge.
Introduction (100 words*)- Summarize the purpose of your proposal. Describe things
such as how your poster will benefit the target audience that would attend your presentation.
Keep it under 100 words.
Purpose (300-500 words*)- The main section of your proposal might vary significantly
due to the nature of your research. For example, a research study that has been completed will
include a results section whereas a researcher who is submitting a proposed research study will
not have had the chance to collect any data yet. Keep it between 300 and 800 words.
Completed research will typically include the following items: a) research questions; b) a
short review of literature to position the study; c) an overview of the research methods; d) a
summary of the results; and e) an explanation as to why the results are important.
Proposed research will typically include the following sections: a) research questions; b)
a short review of literature to position the study; c) proposed research methods; d) possible
results; and e) an explanation as to why the study may be beneficial.
Theoretical or methodology research will typically include the following sections: a)
justification of need for new theory/method; b) literature review; c) description of proposed
new or altered theory/method; and d) instructional or research applications.
Position papers will often be similar to the theoretical research papers but typically
include the following sections: a) explanation of new position; b) literature review; c)
description of how the position is different from the past or beneficial to the future; and d)
instructional or research applications.
Reference Section - Follow APA Publication Manual 6th edition guidelines. Since
proposals typically have a word limit when submitted electronically, 5-10 references is about all
you'll be able to fit in.
Creating the Poster:
Posters vary in content depending upon the nature of the study and how far it has progressed.
The following is a list of common items:
Research Methods
Review of Literature
Discussion sections
Figure(s) and/or table(s)
Reference Section
Other contextually relevant information such as images, quotations, references, etc. as
There is little benefit in creating a new guide on how to create posters for conferences when
others have already done an amazing job at this. Here's a few examples
Collin Purrington's Guide to Poster Design: - This is a great guide for the creation
of posters. It also provides templates so that you don't have to start from scratch (requires
powerpoint or google docs).
Google Images - Do a search on google images for "conference posters" and you'll see a
seemingly never ending number of pictures of good and bad posters.
What to Expect on Presentation Day: The poster session will run for 30 minutes, during which
the author(s) will discuss her or his project and interact with participants who move around
visiting different poster exhibits. Please bring at least 30 copies of a handout (a synthesis of the
poster presentation) for the visitors.
*Submission requirements occasionally change so follow the guidelines on the actual
submission requirements document or web page.
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