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How to Create a Research Poster

This guide provides resources and information on how to communicate your research visually.

What is a Research Poster?

Posters are commonly used in the academic community, and most conferences include poster presentations in their program. Research posters summarize information or research briefly and attractively to help the researcher to generate the discussion. 

The poster is usually a mixture of a brief text mixed with tables, graphs, pictures, and other presentation formats. At a conference, the researcher stands by the poster display while other participants can come and view the presentation and interact with the author.

When designing a poster you should ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is the most important/interesting/astounding finding from my research project?
  2. How can I visually share my research with conference attendees? Should I use charts, graphs, photos, images?
  3. What kind of information can I convey during my lightning talk that will complement my poster?

Why Should I Present my Research?

The best reason to give a poster presentation:

Your poster presentation presents an opportunity to talk about your research and to interacting with others, you may think of new answers to your research. You may also surprise yourself by asking new questions! 

What to Expect at a Poster Session

Before the conference day: 

  • Make sure to save your poster file as a PDF and double-check the size (it should be 48'' by 36") before sending it to the printer. 
  • Practice your lightning talk ahead of time and be prepared to answer the questions about your research. Some questions to consider:
  1. Why did you choose this particular research question?
  2. What did you learn that you did not expect?
  3.  What is the most interesting aspect that you learned?
  4. What would your next steps be if you could continue this research next semester?

The day of the conference:

  • Don't forget your poster and your handouts/business cards. This will be your way to connect with attendees after the poster session is done. It should include your title, a copy of your poster, citations, abstract, and contact information.
  • Arrive early!
  • Pick up clips to attach your poster as you enter the ballroom and put up your poster in your assigned location. 
  • With your extra few minutes before the poster session starts, make sure that your poster is properly mounted and take a few minutes to introduce yourself to your neighbors. 
  • There will be a lot of people around the posters at any one time - don't focus your attention on only one person. Make sure you use your eyes and body language to draw people into your conversations.
  • Do not leave early. Even if it seems slow, you should stay until the poster session time slot is over. Once the session is over.