Geology & Geophysics AGU News

Effectively Evaluate Scientific Posters

In poster sessions, students and scientists convey research to an audience walking through a busy hall. To reach that audience, posters should be eye-catching, to the point, and easy to understand.

By Kelsey Watson

If you are judging a poster or being judged on one, giving student feedback, or just interested in the ingredients of a successful poster, here are some things to keep in mind:

Is the abstract succinct and informative? An abstract summarizes but also presents research findings. It should include methods, results, and conclusions as well as overarching ideas and the purpose of the study.

Are the introduction and background clear, informative, and mindful of prior research? Do you understand what the author is trying to convey? Does the discourse adequately cite previous studies? Citations allow scientists to trace the genealogy of ides and understand how those ideas are applied throughout a field.

Why was the research done, and why are the results important? The author should clearly state why this research was carried out and how its results will benefit the scientific community.

How easy is the poster to read? Easy-to-follow posters present information in a logical order, use space efficiently, and avoid redundancy as well as large blocks of text. They leave out the clutter of nonessential details. A well-chosen font and text size help make a poster more readable.

Do the figures convey the research? Labeled, readable figures can summarize research and indicate big-picture themes, providing readers with a quick grasp of an author’s research. The poster text should reference the figures.

Are statistical analyses explained? A reader should not have to sort through a researcher’s data to draw conclusions and see patterns. The poster’s text and figures should explain statistical analyses.

Can the presenter expertly discuss the poster and answer questions? A poster presenter should have a command of the research. This includes the ability to dive deep and answer detailed questions, to draw connections between the research and broader implications, and to explain the work in understandable terms to someone with no background in the topic.

Providing feedback on a scientific poster is much like providing peer review for a manuscript. The  questions above might help you not just evaluate other researchers’ posters but also craft better scientific posters yourself (see page 241).

—Kelsey Watson, AGU Education and Public Outreach Intern; email: [email protected]

Citation: Watson, K. (2015), Effectively evaluate scientific posters, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO041043. Published on 10 December 2015.

© 2015. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0