We all have experienced time and again that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. The human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words and in less than 1/10th of a second, we can get a sense of a visual scene.
This fact should especially be taken advantage of while presenting scientific research where the research needs to be shared comprehensively yet in a way that it grabs and retains the attention of the viewer.
For a scientist or researcher, presenting their work is as important as the research itself.
Scientific research or publication can be presented in various ways such as through manuscripts, abstracts, oral presentations and scientific posters etc.
Poster sessions are an essential part of scientific conferences and a great poster can make the research stand out and even go viral!
But due to their hectic schedules and time constraints, preparing a poster can be a challenging task for a scientist. Often, they are also not professionally equipped to make an attractive poster. Finding the right tool, design, apt illustrations, graphics etc., can be unnerving and time-consuming.
So here is everything a scientist may need to make a great scientific poster out of a research paper.
What is a Scientific Poster?
A scientific poster is an illustrated summary of research that scientists and engineers use to present their scientific discoveries to a larger audience.
More detailed than an oral presentation but less than a manuscript, a scientific poster is a concise method of presenting research findings through a combination of text and graphics.
A scientific poster is usually divided into nine distinct sections. It contains minimal text, with figures and tables being the main focus.
Difference between Scientific Poster and Scientific Paper
A lot many times people confuse a scientific poster with a scientific paper.
A scientific paper is a formal written report of about 4000-4500 words with stated aims and objectives and has several sections. It is submitted to be published in a journal.
A scientific poster is less formal, often limited to a page or two. It is an attractive placement of visuals and graphics with a lesser focus on the text. The readers should be able to grasp the ‘big picture’ in a short amount of time.
Generally, the presenter stands by the poster to explain but it ideally should entice viewers on its merit.
Why Are Scientific Posters Important?
Since in a conference, the audience can be a mix of people with different expertise levels, a scientific poster should be able to provide a visual overview of particular research that can be explained in a short amount of time in an easy manner.
To ensure the message is conveyed concisely and crisply, the basic aesthetics of poster-making such as different layouts, wide choices of available color options, use of illustrations and visuals make it much more appealing compared to other creatives.
As a poster is supposed to show and not tell, in addition to its content, ample focus is put on other aspects such as audience psychology, visual perception, and human nature.
How to Make a Scientific Poster out of a Research Paper – 7 Best Practices
1. Begin with the right questions
A scientific poster is a snapshot of lengthy research. What to include and what to omit is a crucial decision. This can be achieved by asking the right questions such as:
a. What is the most important or astounding finding of the research which needs to be highlighted?
b. Which visual aids will help accentuate the message in the best possible way – graphs, pie-charts, images, tables, pictures?
c. What is the target audience so that the poster can be customized accordingly?
For instance, a scientific poster to be presented at an educational conference can be chosen to be less elaborate and with less jargon as compared to the same poster when presented at a scientific conference.
2. Focus on the outline
The poster outline provides a definite structure and eliminates randomness. It channelizes the flow of thoughts and sequence of action.
A scientific poster generally has nine sections but it is not sacrosanct. A few sections can be eliminated or some can be added depending on the specifics of the research and the objective of the poster presentation.
For instance, you may wish to add your photo given the scenario that you may not be physically present at all times in the conference. People can approach you if they wish to discuss further.
3. Use bigger fonts
A scientific poster should be legible from several feet away. Using bigger fonts ensures readability from a distance. Bigger, the better!
You can also decide to use two different font styles. One for the section titles and the other for the body of the sections. This makes the sections stand out and the poster becomes more navigable.
Less is more!
An organized and clean scientific poster will attract more eyeballs compared to a cluttered and congested one. Needless to say, it is also easy on the eyes.
Some tips to declutter a scientific poster are:
a. Include only as much which can be explained in 5-15 minutes
b. If the target audience is not experts in the field, you can include lesser details in sections of research methodology, references, and acknowledgement
c. Ask colleagues and peers to edit and proof-read. You can also use professional proofreading and editing services
5. The design makes all the difference
You might have the perfect content, an excellent outline, and apt visual illustrations. But if the execution in terms of design is poor, the outcome will not be great.
The components of most scientific posters are the same, but there is no standard design protocol to follow.
Some of the basic design tips to consider are:
a. Size and Orientation of the poster – Though it may vary, the most common size is 48″x36″ and the most common orientation is landscape
b. Layouts – Choose the layout which brings out the central element of the research to the fore, makes the poster look elegant and uncluttered
c. Poster background – Should be light and as little distracting as possible. Photos, bright colors, and distracting patterns should be avoided
d. Colors – The colors should capture attention but at the same time should not distract
f. Some popular design tools to consider are Photoshop, Illustrator, and Corel Draw.
6. Online Scientific Poster Maker
Online Scientific Poster Maker is a specialized online tool that has made scientific poster making very easy and quick.
Within a few clicks, a comprehensive research paper or article can be converted into a crisp and elegant Scientific Poster.
The AI-enabled poster maker tool which is free of charge grabs information directly from the published paper and creates a poster layout based on the paper content.
It selects textual content, shortens and summarizes content, organises images and creates an appropriate layout saving valuable time. You can also add scientifically accurate and beautiful illustrations from among its gallery of 40,000 illustrations.
Follow these simple steps to use the poster maker:
Step 1: Go to the Poster Maker website and ‘start creating’
Step 2: Upload the research paper or article which you wish to convert in a scientific poster, directly from the computer or from the web using its URL.
Step 3: The poster maker will read the content and automatically fill in all information. You may also add/edit other information.
Step 4: Change any information in the header and inside each section if required. The upward and downward arrows can be used to change the section sequence
Step 5: Add illustrations from among its exhaustive collection by choosing the category that suits the best.
Step6: Your scientific poster is ready!
Wasn’t that easy? Have a look at a few scientific posters made by real users:
7. Follow the rules
It may not be entirely true for all conferences, but many have set rules and procedures for scientists who wish to present a scientific poster.
It is a good idea to learn beforehand if there are any such rules and adhere to them.
As important as it is to undertake scientific research, equally important is to share the results and findings in a meaningful and consolidated way to a larger audience. A scientific poster is one such effective way to present a quick visual overview of a research project.
But scientists and engineers find it time-consuming and often beyond their comfort levels to prepare a scientific poster.
The ideas and tips discussed in this article and by using the online poster maker tool, it will help to create a professional scientific poster.