Creating a poster

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Address correspondence lớn Jane E. Miller, Ph.D., Retìm kiếm Professor, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy & Aging Retìm kiếm, & Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning và Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901.

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APPENDIX A.1. Comparison of Research Papers, Presentations, & Posters—Materials & Audience Interaction.

APPENDIX A.2. Comparison of Retìm kiếm Papers, Presentations, and Posters—Contents.


Posters are a common way lớn present results of a statistical analysis, program evaluation, or other project at professional conferences. Often, researchers fail lớn recognize the chất lượng nature of the format, which is a hybrid of a published paper and an oral presentation. This methods note demonstrates how khổng lồ kiến thiết retìm kiếm posters to lớn convey study objectives, methods, findings, and implications effectively lớn varied professional audiences.


A đánh giá of existing literature on retìm kiếm communication & poster kiến thiết is used to lớn identify & demonstrate important considerations for poster nội dung & layout. Guidelines on how lớn write about statistical methods, results, & statistical significance are illustrated with samples of ineffective writing annotated to point out weaknesses, accompanied by concrete examples and explanations of improved presentation. A comparison of the content và format of papers, speeches, and posters is also provided.


Each component of a research poster about a quantitative analysis should be adapted to lớn the audience & format, with complex statistical results translated inkhổng lồ simplified charts, tables, và bulleted text to lớn convey findings as part of a clear, focused story line.


Effective retìm kiếm posters should be designed around two or three key findings with accompanying handouts and narrative sầu description to supply additional technical detail and encourage dialog with poster viewers.

Keywords: Communication, poster, conference presentation

An assortment of posters is a common way to lớn present research results lớn viewers at a professional conference. Too often, however, researchers treat posters as poor cousins to oral presentations or published papers, failing khổng lồ recognize the opportunity khổng lồ convey their findings while interacting with individual viewers. By neglecting khổng lồ adapt detailed paragraphs and statistical tables inlớn text bullets và charts, they make it harder for their audience khổng lồ quickly grasp the key points of the poster. By simply posting pages from the paper, they risk having people merely skyên their work while standing in the conference hall. By failing khổng lồ devise narrative sầu descriptions of their poster, they overlook the chance to lớn learn from conversations with their audience.

Even researchers who adapt their paper into a well-designed poster often forget to address the range of substantive sầu và statistical training of their viewers. This step is essential for those presenting lớn nonresearchers but also pertains when addressing interdisciplinary retìm kiếm audiences. Studies of policymakers (DiFranza & the Staff of the Advocacy Institute 1996; Sorian và Baugh 2002) have sầu demonstrated the importance of making it readily apparent how research findings apply to real-world issues rather than imposing on readers to translate statistical findings themselves.

This methods note is intended to help researchers avoid such pitfalls as they create posters for professional conferences. The first section describes objectives of research posters. The second shows how to describe statistical results to viewers with varied levels of statistical training, and the third provides guidelines on the contents and organization of the poster. Later sections address how khổng lồ prepare a narrative sầu & handouts khổng lồ accompany a research poster. Because researchers often present the same results as published retìm kiếm papers, spoken conference presentations, & posters, Appendix A compares similarities and differences in the content, format, & audience interaction of these three modes of presenting retìm kiếm results. Although the focus of this note is on presentation of quantitative sầu retìm kiếm results, many of the guidelines about how to lớn prepare và present posters apply equally well to qualitative sầu studies.


Preparing a poster involves not only creating pages lớn be mounted in a conference hall, but also writing an associated narrative & handouts, & anticipating the questions you are likely to encounter during the session. Each of these elements should be adapted khổng lồ the audience, which may include people with different levels of familiarity with your topic và methods (Nelson et al. 2002; Beilenson 2004). For example, the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association draws academics who conduct complex statistical analyses along with practitioners, program planners, policymakers, và journalists who typically vị not.

Posters are a hybrid form—more detailed than a speech but less than a paper, more interactive sầu than either (Appendix A). In a speech, you (the presenter) determine the focus of the presentation, but in a poster session, the viewers drive that focus. Different people will ask about different facets of your retìm kiếm. Some might vì chưng policy work or research on a similar topic or with related data or methods. Others will have sầu ideas about how khổng lồ apply or extend your work, raising new questions or suggesting different contrasts, ways of classifying data, or presenting results. Beilenson (2004) describes the experience of giving a poster as a dialogue between you và your viewers.

By the over of an active poster session, you may have learned as much from your viewers as they have from you, especially if the topic, methods, or audience are new to you. For instance, at David Snowdon"s first poster presentation on educational attainment and longevity using data from The Nun Study, another researcher returned several times to talk with Snowdon, eventually suggesting that he extover his retìm kiếm lớn focus on Alzheimer"s disease, which led khổng lồ an important new direction in his research (Snowdon 2001). In addition, presenting a poster provides excellent practice in explaining quickly và clearly why your project is important and what your findings mean—a useful skill to lớn apply when revising a speech or paper on the same topic.


Audiences at professional conferences vary considerably in their substantive và methodological backgrounds. Some will be experts on your topic but not your methods, some will be experts on your methods but not your topic, & most will fall somewhere in between. In addition, advances in retìm kiếm methods imply that even researchers who received cutting-edge methodological training 10 or 20 years ago might not be conversant with the lakiểm tra approaches. As you thiết kế your poster, provide enough background on both the topic và the methods to lớn convey the purpose, findings, và implications of your retìm kiếm to lớn the expected range of readers.

Telling a Simple, Clear Story

Write so your audience can understand why your work is of interest to lớn them, providing them with a clear take-home message that they can grasp in the few minutes they will spover at your poster. Experts in communications và poster thiết kế recommover planning your poster around two khổng lồ three key points that you want your audience lớn walk away with, then designing the title, charts, and text khổng lồ emphakích thước those points (Briscoe 1996; Nelson et al. 2002; Beilenson 2004). Start by introducing the two or three key questions you have sầu decided will be the focus of your poster, và then provide a brief overview of data and methods before presenting the evidence lớn answer those questions. Cthảm bại with a summary of your findings and their implications for research và policy.

A 2001 survey of government policymakers showed that they prefer summaries of research lớn be written so they can immediately see how the findings relate khổng lồ issues currently facing their constituencies, without wading through a formal research paper (Sorian và Baugh 2002). Complaints that surfaced about many research reports included that they were “too long, dense, or detailed,” or “too theoretical, technical, or jargony.” On average, respondents said they read only about a quarter of the research material they receive sầu for detail, skyên about half of it, và never get to the rest.

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To ensure that your poster is one viewers will read, understand, và rethành viên, present your analyses khổng lồ match the issues & questions of concern lớn them, rather than making readers translate your statistical results lớn fit their interests (DiFranza & the Staff of the Advocacy Institute 1996; Nelson et al. 2002). Often, their questions will affect how you code your data, specify your model, or design your intervention và evaluation, so plan ahead by familiarizing yourself with your audience"s interests và likely applications of your study findings. In an academic journal article, you might report parameter estimates và standard errors for each independent variable in your regression model. In the poster version, emphasize findings for specific program thiết kế features, demographic, or geographic groups, using straightforward means of presenting effect form size và statistical significance; see “Describing Numeric Patterns and Contrasts” and “Presenting Statistical Test Results” below.

The following sections offer guidelines on how to lớn present statistical findings on posters, accompanied by examples of “poor” & “better” descriptions—samples of ineffective writing annotated khổng lồ point out weaknesses, accompanied by concrete examples and explanations of improved presentation. These ideas are illustrated with results from a multimàn chơi analysis of disenrollment from the State Children"s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP; Phillips et al. 2004). I chose that paper to lớn show how khổng lồ prepare a poster about a sophisticated quantitative analysis of a topic of interest lớn HSR readers, and because I was a collaborator in that study, which was presented in the three formats compared here—as a paper, a speech, & a poster.

Explaining Statistical Methods

Beilenson (2004) and Briscoe (1996) suggest keeping your mô tả tìm kiếm of data & methods brief, providing enough information for viewers to lớn follow the story line & evaluate your approach. Avoid cluttering the poster with too much technical detail or obscuring key findings with excessive jargon. For readers interested in additional methodological information, provide a handout và a citation khổng lồ the pertinent research paper.

As you write about statistical methods or other technical issues, relate them lớn the specific concepts you study. Provide synonyms for technical và statistical terminology, remembering that many conferences of interest to policy researchers draw people from a range of disciplines. Even with a quantitatively sophisticated audience, don"t assume that people will know the equivalent vocabulary used in other fields. A few years ago, the journal Medical Care published an article whose sole purpose was khổng lồ compare statistical terminology across various disciplines involved in health services retìm kiếm so that people could understand one another (Maciejewski et al. 2002). After you define the term you plan to use, mention the synonyms from the various fields represented in your audience.

Consider whether acronyms are necessary on your poster. Avoid them if they are not familiar to the field or would be used only once or twice on your poster. If you use acronyms, spell them out at first usage, even those that are common in health services retìm kiếm such as “HEDIS®”(Health Plan Employer Data & Information Set) or “HLM”(hierarchical linear model).

Poor: “We use logistic regression & a discrete-time hazards specification khổng lồ assess relative sầu hazards of SCHIP disenrollment, with plan cấp độ as our key independent variable.”

Comment: Terms lượt thích “discrete-time hazards specification” may be confusing khổng lồ readers without training in those methods, which are relatively new on the scene. Also the meaning of “SCHIP” or “plan level” may be unfamiliar khổng lồ some readers unless defined earlier on the poster.

Better: “Chances of disenrollment from the State Children"s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) vary by amount of time enrolled, so we used hazards models (also known as sự kiện history analysis or survival analysis) to lớn correct for those differences when estimating disenrollment patterns for SCHIP.. plans for different income levels.”

Comment: This version clarifies the terms and concepts, naming the statistical method và its synonyms, & providing a sense of why this type of analysis is needed.

To explain a statistical method or assumption, paraphrase technical terms & illustrate how the analytic approach applies khổng lồ your particular research question & data:

Poor: “The data structure can be formulated as a two-màn chơi hierarchical linear model, with families (the level-1 unit of analysis) nested within counties (the level-2 unit of analysis).”

Comment: Although this description would be fine for readers used to lớn working with this type of statistical model, those who aren"t conversant with those methods may be confused by terminology such as “level-1” và “unit of analysis.”

Better: “The data have a hierarchical (or multilevel) structure, with families clustered within counties.”

Comment: By replacing “nested” with the more familiar “clustered,” identifying the specific concepts for the two levels of analysis, and mentioning that “hierarchical” and “multilevel” refer to the same type of analytic structure, this description relates the generic class of statistical Model to this particular study.

Presenting Results with Charts

Charts are often the preferred way to convey numeric patterns, quickly revealing the relative sầu sizes of groups, comparative levels of some outcome, or directions of trends (Briscoe 1996; Tufte 2001; Nelson et al. 2002). As Beilenson puts it, “let your figures vày the talking,” reducing the need for long text descriptions or complex tables with lots of tiny numbers. For example, create a pie chart khổng lồ present sample composition, use a simple bar chart to lớn show how the dependent variable varies across subgroups, or use line charts or clustered bar charts khổng lồ illustrate the net effects of nonlinear specifications or interactions among muốn independent variables (Miller 2005). Charts that include confidence intervals around point estimates are a quiông chồng & effective way khổng lồ present effect kích cỡ, direction, và statistical significance. For multivariate analyses, consider presenting only the results for the main variables of interest, listing the other variables in the Mã Sản Phẩm in a footnote and including complex statistical tables in a handout.

Provide each chart with a title (in large type) that explains the topic of that chart. A rhetorical question or summary of the main finding can be very effective sầu. Accompany each chart with a few annotations that succinctly describe the patterns in that chart. Although each chart page should be self-explanatory, be judicious: Tufte (2001) cautions against encumbering your charts with too much “nondata ink”—excessive sầu labeling or superfluous features such as arrows and labels on individual data points. Strive sầu for a balance between guiding your readers through the findings và maintaining a clean, uncluttered poster. Use chart types that are familiar khổng lồ your expected audience. Finally, remember that you can flesh out descriptions of charts & tables in your script rather than including all the details on the poster itself; see “Narrative to Accompany a Poster.”

Describing Numeric Patterns and Contrasts

As you describe patterns or numeric contrasts, whether from simple calculations or complex statistical models, explain both the direction và magnitude of the association. Incorporate the concepts under study và the units of measurement rather than simply reporting coefficients (β"s) (Friedman 1990; Miller 2005).

Poor: “Number of enrolled children in the family is correlated with disenrollment.”

Comment: Neither the direction nor the size of the association is apparent.

Poor : “The log-hazard of disenrollment for one-child families was 0.316.”

Comment: Most readers find it easier khổng lồ assess the size and direction from hazards ratquả táo (a khung of relative sầu risk) instead of log-hazards (log-relative sầu risks, the β"s from a hazards model).

Better: “Families with only one child enrolled in the program were about 1.4 times as likely as larger families to lớn disenroll.”

Comment: This version explains the association between number of children & disenrollment without requiring viewers lớn exponentiate the log-hazard in their heads to assess the kích thước & direction of that association. It also explicitly identifies the group against which one-child families are compared in the mã sản phẩm.

Presenting Statistical Test Results

On your poster, use an approach to lớn presenting statistical significance that keeps the focus on your results, not on the arithmetic needed to conduct inferential statistical tests. Replace standard errors or test statistics with confidence intervals, p-values, or symbols, or use formatting such as boldface, italics, or a contrasting color khổng lồ denote statistically significant findings (Davis 1997; Miller 2005). Include the detailed statistical results in handouts for later perusal.

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To illustrate these recommendations, Figures 1 and ​and22 demonstrate how to divide results from a complex, multicấp độ Model across several poster pages, using charts and bullets in lieu of the detailed statistical table from the scientific paper (Table 1; Phillips et al. 2004). Following experts" advice to lớn focus on one or two key points, these charts emphaform size the findings from the final Model (Model 5) rather than also discussing each of the fixed- và random-effects specifications from the paper.

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