Share discoveries

A poster is a way to showcase your research visually. It should convey information in a concise way, stand on its own, but also benefit from your presence and what you can add verbally.

Poster Planning

Your first step in creating a poster is to consider your audience, the message you want to present, and the space you’ll have on a poster to do that.

Consider what your audience might already know about your topic, what might interest them about it, and how this research could be relevant to them. 

With your audience in mind, consider what message you want to present. When someone walks away from your poster, what is the one thing you would want them to remember? This takeaway becomes the focus of your poster and will guide the content you choose to display.

Poster Design

Begin your design with a paper prototype so you can see where things might go. At this early stage, you’ll want to think broadly about where to place your content. It’s not necessary to know exactly what all of the text will be.

Make sure you include the following on your poster:

  • title and authors
  • introduction
  • objectives, goals, or major problem(s)
  • methods
  • results or findings
  • conclusions, lessons learned, and future directions
  • references and acknowledgments

Keep in mind these design principles:

  • Leave about a 1-inch margin around your entire poster.
  • Use columns to organize your content and remember that we read information left to right and top to bottom.
  • Keep columns and components aligned.
  • Be consistent with font, images, and column sizes.
  • Use white space to your advantage.
  • Use a font that is easy to read and make sure it’s large enough to read from a distance.
  • Keep all text left justified.
  • For each component, you’ll want to keep word counts under 50.
  • When choosing colors for your poster, keep them simple (no more than two).
  • All images should be labeled and be in high enough resolution when the poster is printed. Images should not be pixelated.

Presenting a poster

Keep in mind your audience and the takeaway you’ve identified in the planning stage. This will help you create an “elevator speech” for when people approach your poster. An elevator speech is a clear, brief summary of your poster.

Having your elevator speech prepared will be helpful, but you’ll need to keep in mind that your audience may differ each time you give the speech and vary in their knowledge on the subject. You might want to ask questions of your viewers to help you better determine how to talk about the work on your poster. 

Another way to share research is to take your findings and turn them into a full-length paper. There are a couple of ways to start this process.

While you could write a paper and then find journals to submit the article to, it is helpful to first identify journals you would want to be published in and see if your research fits within their scope. When deciding on a journal, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Which are journals you are currently reading that are related to your research?
  • Which journals are your PIs, mentors, or faculty partners writing in?
  • Are there any undergraduate research journals that you could contribute to?

When you find a few journals that interest you, you’ll want to check their scope of work. Usually under the “About” or “Policies” sections on a website or in the publication there will be a statement on scope and focus. In this section, journals will also discuss how they like to receive submissions. Some journals want you to email their editor first to float an idea, others want only an abstract to start, and some journals will accept a whole draft.

Once you have some of those decisions made, you can start to write your paper. Keep in mind any formatting the journal might require for submissions (look for a style guide section). Especially if you’re submitting an article to be peer reviewed, there are usually some formatting rules to follow to keep the paper anonymous.

With a draft completely written, you’re ready to start the review process. You’ll need to submit your draft and then wait. Waiting for a journal to let you know their submission often feels like the longest part of writing an article.

If your paper has been peer-reviewed, you will hear back from the journal with the reviewer’s comments and a decision. Journal articles are usually accepted, accepted – pending revisions, or rejected. If it was accepted with revisions, you’ll need to look over the notes from your reviewers and make revisions accordingly. Once your paper has been accepted, you’ll go through a proofreading and editing process before the paper is actually published in the journal.

Keep in mind that even if your article is rejected from a journal, that doesn’t mean your article won’t be accepted to a different journal. This can be a great time to talk to your faculty mentor or PI to discuss other places that might consider publishing your article.

Creativity is not accidental, nor is it random. It involves a process of making intentional choices within a cultural context. 

The context could be a performance venue (concert hall or Beaver Stadium), a genre (Broadway musical), or style period (Elizabethan theatre). The context of the performance determines the reasonable expectations from the performance. 

Preceding a performance should be a scholarly process and development of careful understanding of context. After that, you can make intentional decisions about the use of expressive elements within your discipline. At times you may elect to break from the context for expressive purposes, but it is the result of a choice made in order to express a thought, idea, feeling, or experience.

Consequently, creative performance first requires the collection of thought and understanding about history, tradition, convention, and original purpose for what is being performed. This collection of knowledge, along with the intended purpose of the performance, then shapes your decisions regarding expression and use of skill to create a new contextualized creative performance.