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Creating a Psychology Research Poster
There are two primary purposes for a poster session. 1) A person can quickly see a large number of research findings; and, 2) a person has immediate access to the authors of the research and can ask questions. Information about a typical, empirical poster is described below. In addition to your actual poster, you probably should also prepare the following:
Use either the text of your poster (it is okay to use double-sided copies to save paper), or write a separate paper which may include more detail than there was room to put on the poster.
In either case, you should include contact information in case people have questions.
Depending on the size of the conference, you may want to make 10, 25 or 50 copies. If you run out of copies at the conference, you can always take down people's email addresses and email them a copy of the handout when you get home. Check with your professor for advice on how many handout copies to make.
A short (e.g., 60 second) verbal "blurb"
The purpose of this blurb is to quickly explain what you did and what you found.
This quick summary should be geared toward an audience who wants the "bottom line" on your research, and wants it expressed in an interesting, non-technical way.
One way of creating the physical poster is to have a single sheet of large paper with your poster printed on it. Some colleges have that kind of printing capability, some don't. The Muhlenberg Psychology Department does not have such a printer available yet. The alternative is to print your poster on multiple sheets of regular paper, and use a professionally attractive backing of colored paper.
Read the instructions for the poster session very carefully to determine whether you should mount those papers on a foam board/poster board OR whether you will be provided with bulletin boards and allowed to pin your papers directly to the board. If the instructions don't provide this information, it is best to ask the conference organizer.
There are several good examples of how to construct your posters in the basement of Moyer Hall. In general, note the following:
You need an abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, references, and (if relevant) figures or tables
Arrange your work such that the sections flow from top to bottom in columns, not from left to right in rows. For example:
Use large font that can be read from a distance (i.e., at least 20 point). Your references can be in smaller font.
You can use bullet points to organize your ideas, but write in complete sentences. Unlike a PowerPoint presentation used during an oral presentation, someone viewing your poster should be able to read your poster and understand the project without necessarily talking to you.
Note that you will probably have to pick and choose the most central aspects of your project to report given the relatively small amount of space allowed (see the posters in the basement of Moyer Hall for examples). For example, you might want to choose the one most relevant or glaring "limitation/qualification" to write about rather than listing every limitation you can think of.
Use perfect APA style. Triple check and proof-read.
You do need to cite your sources in the text of the poster. Note that you can automatically use "et al." anytime there are three or more authors.
Research which is analyzed incorrectly reflects extremely poorly on the researchers (and, if your work is being graded, will generally receive a very low grade). Avoid this pitfall easily by reviewing your results with your professor prior to making your poster.
What to wear & What to do.
You should wear business casual attire. No need to dress up excessively, but you do want to look competent and professional.
There will probably be a name tag for you, so look for that when you arrive. In addition, you will either be assigned one of the available bulletin boards or you will be able to just choose a board to pin your poster to.
One member of your research team should be at the poster at all times. You can take turns viewing other posters and/or listening to talks.
When someone approaches your poster, immediately attend to that person. Smile, and offer to answer any questions. If they ask you to summarize what you did - give your verbal "blurb." Be thoughtful and responsive to questions. If you don't know an answer, no problem - say "I'm not sure; what do you think?" If you don't understand a question, say "I'm not sure I understand, could you rephrase that." Be enthusiastic about any insights the person has.
Have fun! You are the "expert" on your research topic because you have done more research on it than anyone else in the room. Take advantage of this opportunity to talk about what you found interesting about the topic, and get involved with conversations with other researchers on their topics.
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