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Academic Research Posters

This guide will help you create an academic poster to present research for your class.

Humanities Posters Versus Social Science Posters

There are some key differences between humanities posters and science posters.

Science posters typically follow a very rigid format. They run three or four columns, to be read top to bottom, left to right. They also include (in this order) an abbreviated abstract, an intro section, a methods section, a results section (usually comprised of lots of tables and figures), and a discussion section (usually a bulleted list of several conclusions drawn from their findings).

Sometimes, reports in the social sciences and humanities will follow the same IMRaD (intro, methods, results and discussion) format.

However, sometimes our research in humanities and social sciences is not reported accordingly. When it is not, we have several strategies for organizing the narrative or exposition of our writing. We can follow the same flow of info (top-down, left-right) but organize our info around contextual themes or headings that organize our points.

a) The humanities can include visuals inspired from the imagery and illustrations in our text—topics, key terms or issues with pre-existing or readily available pictures. For example, in the second column of the poster below, the text mentions a web site, and a screen shot of the site is included.

b) The humanities can use a visual metaphor as backdrop for the text. For example, the poster below uses the reference to a “bridge” in the title of the report as a background image for the entire poster. The paper actually discusses strategies for people across disciplines to work together.

c) The humanities use remediation to organize the poster and render the expository argument visually. Bolter and Grusin (2006) invented the term remediation, which means taking an old medium and refashioning it as a new medium. In the example below, the poster remediates a popular board game to discuss the gamble and risks of starting a new academic program.




Adapted from University of Houston Downtown - Professor Aimee Roundtree

Common Poster Elements

Your poster may include some of these elements!

  1. Research question, hypothesis, or abstract
  2. Methodology: What is the research process that you used? Explain how you did your research.
  3. Your interview questions.
  4. Observations: What did you see? Why is this important?
  5. Findings: What did you learn? Summarize your conclusions.
  6. Themes: Pull out themes in the literature and list in bullet points.
  7. Consider a brief narrative of what you learned - what was the most interesting/surprising aspect of your project?
  8. Add interesting quotes from your research.
  9. Data: Use your data to generate charts or tables.
  10. Images: Include images. Take your own or legally use others.
  11. Recommendations and/or next steps for future research.
  12. Citations: Only list 3-5 most important on your poster. If you have more, put them on your handout.
  13. Acknowledgements: Don't forget to thank your advisor, department, or funding agency.

Some Tips!

More helpful tips

  1. Read Colin Purrington's suggestions for successful poster design.
  2. Be creative in your display, think beyond the text of your paper. You can use boxes, formatting, font, and images to break up the sections of your research poster.
  3. Think carefully about your title. If you would like a longer, more descriptive title, consider a subtitle. Brainstorm several titles and have a peer/colleague/friend/teacher rank them. The title needs to highlight your subject matter, but it does not need to state all your conclusions. Some good titles simply ask questions, others answer them.
  4. You can section your poster according to the major points about your research you want to convey. For example: title, abstract, methodology, data, results, and conclusion. Consider the flow of your poster--these should be in a logical, easy-to-read order. Remember that most people read from left to right and top to bottom.
  5. Qualitative data (e.g. quotes from references and/or interviews) can also be shared on your poster. Make sure you include captions, legends, annotations, citations, and footnotes, if necessary.
  6. Design your poster as if you were designing for a professional publication. Be consistent with your layout, color choices, fonts and sizes.
  7. All text of your poster should be *at least* 24 font size and an easy-to-read font style (e.g. Arial or Verdana). Anything smaller is too difficult to read.
  8. What is the number one mistake made in poster presentations? Too much information! Try to keep your poster to the point and and clear. You can always include more information in your handout or on a website.


Infographic Inspiration from the Library Stacks