The Neurophysiological Biomarker Toolbox (NBT)

Table of Contents

Making a poster

A poster is supposed to catch attention at a conference, and bring across the key finding of your study. At the largest neuroscience conference, which is organized by the American Society for Neuroscience, some 10.000 posters are presented in 5 days. Thus, only few people will have time to stay at one poster for 10 min to decipher your long text, unlogical conclusions or ambiguous figures. The following suggestions are fundamental to a poster, you can use them as a check list:

- Title should not be a neutral statement of what you investigated. Rather, put up front your provoking research question, or state your principal finding as a take-home message.
- List the authors of the scientific work.
- Also add a brief affiliation (e.g., 2nd year Master of Neurosciences, VU University Amsterdam).
- Usually the first or last author serves as a 'corresponding author'. His/her e-mail should be listed. You may not be at the poster all the time at a conference, or 10 people might want your e-mail address at the same time in order to contact you on a later occasion.
- Include (in small font) the occasion of the poster (e.g., Human Brain Mapping conference 2011). Posters typically end up on walls in the home institute and your colleagues will have no idea where and when it was made.
- Text layout: It is a good idea to split the poster in two columns, because it is often crowded at a poster and nobody will be able to read the long sentences. Esthetically, the long lines are also less appealing.
- Introduction: The background leading up to the research question should be brief and sharp. Preferably 3-4 bulleted lines.
- References are no a bad idea, but limit it to 5 and use small font for the Reference list.
- Methods: A picture of the setup saves a lot of words.
- A schematic overview of the paradigm saves a lot of words.
- Figures: Make sure the variable and its unit are clearly labelled on the axes of your plots.
- Figures are central to a poster, make the appealing and large. During the presentation of the poster you want to point out what is the important content. - Results: A common mistake is to report a correlation or effect, but forgetting to state what the effect is (e.g., “a significant correlation” instead of “a positive correlation”, or “Condition A and B were significantly different” instead of “condition A showed larger values of the biomarker than condition B”). We don't get wiser from hearing that “something was significant”, we need to know in what way!
- Legend: First sentence of the figure legend is the take-home message. Do not just write what you have plotted, it's your responsibility to do the thinking and offer an interpretation.
- Acknowledgement: Few people in science manage without help from others. It's a strong tradition to give credit to people that do not qualify as authors but still helped making the research possible.
- Note, many conferences have poster-board restrictions, e.g., that A0-sized posters will have to be printed in portrait (as opposed to landscape) as the boards will otherwise be too narrow.

Example poster

An example poster, in which most of these tips were followed, is here.

tutorial/making_a_poster.txt · Last modified: 2011/12/18 21:11 by Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen
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