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Creating a Successful Poster
Creating a Successful Poster
Congratulations on your poster acceptance to the ADAA conference! First let's take a moment to celebrate that accomplishment and the opportunity to present your work! This is a testament to the scientific contribution of your work and many conference attendees will be looking forward to seeing your poster at the conference.
Posters are a wonderful way to disseminate your research findings and to discuss the implications of them with other researchers. They are also a wonderful way for clinicians to learn about cutting edge research in the field and the clinical implications of that research. But first, you have to create the poster. Below are some tips to help you do so.
There is no one correct way to format a poster.
There are many different formats for posters, all of which can be successful in achieving the goal of a poster - conveying your research findings effectively. There is the traditional poster format, which has the poster title, authors, and affiliations across the entire top of the poster, the left most column including the abstract, introduction (a brief review of the extant literature and an argument for how your study contributes to the literature, hypotheses), and methods, the middle column(s) describing the research results (including tables and figures), and the right most column including the discussion, clinical implications, and references. This format often has anywhere from 3-5 columns. The main point of this format of poster is to convey the research findings in detail and to provide enough information that the reader can understand the take-home message and the finer points of the results as well as the clinical implications.
A new method for posters recently was suggested by Mike Morrison, a PhD candidate in organizational psychology at Michigan State University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RwJbhkCA58. In this new format, the title goes across the entire top of the poster. Below that, there is a small column to the left that includes the authors and their affiliations, a brief review of the extant literature, methods, results, and discussion. The middle section includes a large, wide column with the main research finding in plain English and in large font. Authors can also include a graph in that main middle section. The right-most column then includes any additional tables or figures of the results. The recommendation for this poster format is that the more content that you include, the more cognitive load there is and the fewer folks are going to stop by your poster. In this format you want to convey the main point of your findings and then have discussions with those who come to see your poster.
Both of these formats have their advantages and both formats continue to be used by researchers. There is a lot of discussion of whether one of these is "the right" way to format a poster. You can decide which format you like the most.
Present your data visually (if possible).
Graphs and charts can be extremely effective ways of communicating your results and can ensure that readers can quickly and easily understand your study findings.
Be Concise and clear.
When writing your poster, be concise and clear. This is not the place to comprehensively review everything that's known in the field about your topic. Instead, you want to review the most relevant literature to your topic and make an argument for the value added of your poster.
Use a large font size.
Generally, you want to use a font size that is 28 point or larger. The smaller the font, the more difficult it is to read.
Think about what the take-home message is and the clinical implications.
It is important for you to summarize your main results in a sentence or two. Also, both researchers and clinicians will attend your poster session. Make sure that you present the clinical implications of your results on your poster.
Use this opportunity to start a discussion with others in the field.
Posters are a wonderful opportunity to discuss your research with others in the field to disseminate your findings, but also to get suggestions from others - some of who may be reviewers for journals that you may consider submitting your study to. Use your poster as a stepping stone to start a conversation.
Poster sessions are a great way to network and get to know others in the field. So have fun at your poster session, celebrate your results, and enjoy the process of meeting others!