Poster Preparation


How do I prepare a poster?

Many fellowship programs, such as PRISE and Herchel Smith, require their fellows to give oral presentations or posters on their projects at the end of the program. Other fellowship programs, such as HCRP, require a written progress report. One reason for this requirement is that learning to communicate research results, either through an oral presentation or preparation of a poster or paper, is an important part of a scientist’s training. Another important reason for requiring these presentations or papers is to ensure that students have taken some ownership and responsibility for their projects.

These presentations or papers are not expected to be final articles on your results, but rather progress reports on what you have accomplished thus far. If your program does not provide set guidelines for the paper, you should discuss it with your research mentor well in advance of the deadline; they may have advice or suggest a particular format. Don’t plan to prepare an overly technical paper that emphasizes experimental details. Instead, we recommend that students focus their writing on the "big picture" - what are the scientific questions that led to your research project, and how does your project fit into the context of the field as a whole? Describe your hypothesis and explain how your experiments test that hypothesis. Include a summary of your experimental strategy, but avoid writing a detailed "methods" section unless your lab mentor or fellowship program requires you to do so or if your project involved developing or optimizing an experimental technique or protocol. If you have results you should describe them, and be sure to convey how your findings relate to your hypothesis. Your conclusion should summarize your project and focus on what the next steps should be. Do not worry if your results are unexpected, inconclusive, or even if you don't have any results.

The best thing to do is to be proactive and discuss the paper with your mentor(s) early in the writing process (at the very minimum, three weeks before the paper is due). It is likely that they have had similar experiences in their career, and they may have reassuring comments and advice to help you get started.

Note, each conference/fellowship has specific guidelines on how poster should be prepared and poster size requirements. Please consult website of the conference you are attending for more specific information.

Additional links

Stanford Research Presentation Guidelines

NCSU poster presentation guidelines

Oral presentation guidelines

Elevator Speech

How do I print my poster?
Posters can be printed in the following places on campus and of campus locations such as FedEx. Individuals submitting abstracts are responsible for poster printing fees.

MCB graphics

HMS Mail and Print Services

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