Skip Navigation

2016 Poster Guidelines and Criteria

Poster Guidelines

Please note: The deadline for submission of poster entries has passed.

All undergraduate students are eligible to enter a poster submission.

Research or creative activity can be entered for exhibition, as long as a well-defined part of the project is complete. It is not necessary to have completed the entire project. While the project to be presented may have been accomplished with the support and guidance of a research adviser or instructor, the student participant(s) must be the principal contributor(s). Individual or team projects may be entered. Posters must be entered in one of the poster judging categories listed below.

Entries will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis up to a maximum of 200 posters provided the entry materials are complete.

Poster judging sessions will be held on Wednesday, April 6.  There will be three judging sessions:  9:30 – 11:00 am, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, and 12:30 – 2:00 pm.  Participants are asked to indicate on the entry form the sessions for which they are available and are required to be present for the judging session to which they are assigned.

Poster Entry Forms

Entry forms must be completed and submitted online and also printed out, signed by the student’s research project adviser, and submitted to Room 417 Old Main by 5:00 p.m. on March 4, 2016. (Entry deadline has passed.) The entry form requires a short project description and an abstract describing the work, a list of the authors, the intended area of entry, and available judging times.

Entrants are required to set up posters between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, 2016 or between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6 (Table top easels will be provided.)

Poster Judging Categories

  • Arts and Humanities (including Visual Arts)
  • Engineering
  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Course-based Research Projects (all disciplines)

Projects may be entered in only one category. Only one poster per student is permitted.

Course-based Research Projects

Research or creative work that is completed as a class assignment may be entered in the course-based projects category. This category is included to recognize the continuum of student involvement in research activities and to introduce more students to participation in the Exhibition. Course-based research projects may be limited in scope or have more active faculty direction compared to the independent research or creative projects typically entered for exhibition in the disciplinary categories. Nonetheless, entries in the course-based projects category should reflect student work using research or scholarly methods to address a problem or question. Examples include design projects, research papers, and original experiments. Students who can answer "yes" to the following questions may elect to enter this category:

  • Did all of the work on the project take place as part of a course assignment?
  • Was the project topic assigned by the instructor or determined by a moderated/guided process of selection during class?
  • Was the research or creative work completed within one semester and one course?

NOTE: Thesis work should be entered in the appropriate disciplinary category, not as a course-based project.

Poster Judging Criteria

The purpose of a poster exhibit is to convey to a wide audience a research project's significance to scholars in the field and its potential significance to the general public. Exhibits will be judged on their quality in three areas:


The exhibit must include:

  • Student name (or names, if more than one student is presenting the exhibit)
  • Collaborators, adviser(s), and department(s)
  • A short title of the exhibit
  • Funding sources (if applicable)
  • Proof of regulatory committee approval (if the project involves human participants or animal subjects or biohazardous materials)
  • Objectives
  • Significance to the field
  • Significance to society in general
  • Methods
  • Results, interpretation of results and conclusions, and directions for future research if the project is completed. Creative exhibits must include discussion of meaning and/or reflections on the body of work exhibited.


The core of each exhibit is a poster with text and graphics intended for a general audience. Use of laptop computers is not permitted as part of the exhibit.

  • Table top easels to display posters will be provided.
  • Posters must be attached to the board with tacks (tacks will be provided). NO TAPE IS PERMITTED.
  • Poster should not exceed 4 feet in height and 3.5 feet in width. These height and width dimensions correspond to the space available on the table top easels.
  • Poster should attract attention and convey important information about the project.
  • Language should be simple and descriptions brief. Excessive jargon should be avoided; necessary technical terms should be defined.
  • Spelling and grammar must be correct.
  • Photographs, drawings, charts, tables, or graphs should be simple, well organized, and carefully chosen when used to explain complicated technical concepts to a wide audience.
  • All text should be large enough to be read from a distance of 4 to 6 feet away.
  • Limited table top space is available to each entrant and may be used to display supporting materials such as bibliographies, reports, models, artifacts, etc.

Oral Presentation

  • Each student should prepare to describe and discuss his or her exhibit, tailored specifically to make the work understandable to a non-expert audience.
  • Description should be clear and concise, and should include the major points presented on the poster.
  • Presentation must not exceed 5 minutes; judges will be instructed to observe this time limit. Note: A videotape or demonstration cannot be submitted for the discussion.
  • In cases where the student worked with collaborators, including his or her adviser, the presentation should clearly describe the student's role in the overall project.

NOTE: Two informational sessions on preparing a poster will be offered.

Phi Kappa Phi Peter T. Luckie Award for Outstanding Exhibit by a Junior

The Phi Kappa Phi Peter T. Luckie Award for Outstanding Research by a Junior is sponsored by the Penn State Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. The award recognizes an outstanding junior entry in each of the three following areas: Health and Life Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Engineering. Each award is accompanied by a $200 prize.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1900 and initiates junior and senior students from all disciplines who have demonstrated academic excellence. The society lives up to its motto, "Let the love of learning rule humanity," by sponsoring fellowships and academic services and providing support to encourage the pursuit of learning in all disciplines and at all levels. Information about the Penn State chapter may be found at

The University Libraries Award for Information Literacy

Exploring the wealth of information available to identify quality resources most relevant to scholarly inquiry is a critical part of research. Penn State University Libraries has created the Award for Information Literacy to recognize scholarly work based on a foundation of careful background research and literature review. The award is given to entries that demonstrate excellence in information literacy through:

  • bibliography or literature review contributing to research in any field including the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts, and/or
  • use of manuscript, archival, or other primary resources to conduct original research

All poster entries are eligible for the Information Literacy Award. Judges from the University Libraries will review posters and discuss information research strategies and resources with participants as part of the review process. Students who do not wish to be considered for the award may indicate so to the judges.

Judging will be based on:

  • information research process, strategies, and resources
  • social, ethical, or economic considerations in accessing information
  • relationship of the background information gathered to the project direction
  • credit and proper citation for any quotes, tables, graphs, photographs, and other content used in the poster that are not the student's own work
  • information on critical sources used, as space allows in the poster

Questions about the Undergraduate Exhibition should be directed to Dr. Mary Beth Crowe, Assistant Vice President and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, 417 Old Main, Phone: 814-863-1864, Email: