Scientific Poster Assignment

Scientific Poster Assignment

Scientists share their findings (often before they are otherwise published) by attending scientific conferences and presenting talks or posters. Conferences generally have poster sessions where many posters will be set up in a room and attendees can walk around and view the posters that interest them. The poster presenter generally stands by their poster to explain their work or discuss ideas with attendees who view the poster. This is a great way for scientists to quickly share the basic concepts of their projects with others who are particularly interested in it and to exchange ideas one on one. Thus posters need to be visually appealing, easy to read and understand, and simplify their work to the most important concepts/findings. Work presented in posters does not need to be complete and is often ongoing current research.

This semester you must create an electronic poster for your yeast UV protectant experiments. A power point template file is available for you to use for this but you may choose to work in whatever program you prefer. For your assignment you will need to upload your final poster file to Blackboard but do not need to print out a copy. Posters are individual assignments and wording should be entirely in your own words with all work appropriately cited as needed.

General Guidelines
– This is an individual assignment. Every student must write their own poster in their own words. Be mindful of plagiarizing from your lab partners, scientific papers or internet sites.
– Maximum of one page at 36×48 inches.
– All text must be at least 28 point font.
– Be as concise as possible while maintaining all information necessary for the audience to understand and appreciate your work.
– You should assume your reader is familiar with general biology but not specifics of your field or experimental techniques.
– Your introduction must include at least 4 references with at least 2 primary literature references (papers presenting new findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals).
– You must include at least 2 original data figures (charts not tables) in your paper that address unique sub-questions for your research.
– References should be cited in the text using the name-year convention of the Council of Scientific Editors (first author last name and year or publication in parentheses). For example “..found that C. elegans are able to distinguish between two food sources (Smith et. al., 2011).
– You should save your document using the following filename format ‘LastName_FirstName_Instructor_UVPoster’.

Honor Code
You may discuss ideas and concepts with others but must generate all the text and figures for the paper on your own. Be aware of potential plagiarism issues such as sharing text with other students, using text too closely related to published work, not properly citing work, etc. If you are ever confused about a whether something would be considered plagiarism please email your instructor or Dr. Cole before turning the assignment in.

Helpful Resources

The title of your poster must be succinct (20 words or less) while still describing your main finding or question. Under your title you should list the poster authors with yourself listed first, then all other significant contributors (such as lab partners), and with the PI (here your lab instructor) listed as the last author.

Poster introductions are relatively short (~3 paragraphs) and serve to introduce the general research area to the audience. Introductions should convey a strong sense for why the research area is important to study and what the current state of scientific understanding is. You may reference figures in your introduction if needed (such as pathway diagrams).

Here you should clearly define the specific objectives of your research – i.e. what specific research question/s you are trying to answer. You may state them in paragraph or bullet point format but should be succinct.

This section should be written in the style of paper methods sections using past tense, passive voice and written in paragraphs. You may also include figures in the methods section for clarity if needed. The key to writing a good methods section is to provide a clear description of experimental details while being as concise and organized as possible. You can assume your reader has a basic understanding of general laboratory equipment and techniques (ie. you do not need to explain how to use a micropipette or include the brand and model of centrifuge used).

Results text should follow a logical flow based on the questions explored. Thus, paragraphs often begin by stating the question being researched and the experiment performed to address it and then continue to describe the results. For example, ‘in order to determine whether C. elegans prefer OP50 or wild type E. coli we performed choice plates using OP50 and E. coli. As seen in Figure 1, worms strongly preferred…’. Your results section should also refer to your figures (for example – ‘C. elegans preferred OP50 over HB101 (Figure 1)’). This allows you to concisely describe your results without having to list specific numbers in the text (although results can point out any numbers that are particularly striking or important to note). Results sections should describe important findings or patterns within your data but interpretations of these should be reserved for the discussion. For example, ‘C. elegans showed a strong preference for OP50’ could be a statement in results while ‘C. elegans prefer known food sources’ should be in the discussion. A good rule of thumb is that statements that could be refuted because they go beyond simply stating the data should be reserved for the discussion.

Figures & Tables
Just as you want your scientific writing to be as concise as possible you also want your figures to be concise while conveying all the information needed. Every figure should demonstrate a point/question you discuss in the results text. Condense data so as to make it easier to see the points being made. For example, replicates should almost always be combined with only the average and standard deviation error bars graphed. Figure axes must be clearly labeled and indicate their units. Your poster must include at least 2 data figures (tables do not count as a figure) with captions.
Figure captions should serve as stand-alone text such that someone could view the figure and caption and without reading the actual text of your paper understand what the figure is demonstrating and how the data was obtained (not in enough detail to replicate the work but enough to understand the general concepts). Captions should begin with the figure number and a descriptive title. For example, Figure 1. C. elegans prefer ethanol over methanol. Figure captions should be stand-alone text such that a reader could fully understand the figure without reading other sections of the poster. For example, captions generally describe the experiment (worms were placed on choice plates with two types of bacteria and the number of worms near each bacteria was counted at several time points), and include important information on the graph preparation (such as the number of replicates that were averaged and what the error bars represent).

You should summarize your key findings here in paragraph format. This is also where you may interpret your findings and go beyond just stating the trends in the data. Be succinct and clear and do not overstate or over-interpret findings. Be sure to tie your findings back to the larger research area you discussed in your introduction.

Future Directions
You should include potential future research work to explore. Suggested work may include ideas to fix technical issues with the experiments or new research questions to address. Future directions should directly relate to your past work either as continuation or inspiration.

This section is optional but is typically included in scientific posters as an area to acknowledge funding sources for the work and/or people who have supported your work in some way (technically helping with experiments, reading and editing your write-ups, etc.).

Include a bibliography for all texts cited throughout your poster. Follow any standard scientific conventions for the format of the references.

Grading Rubric

Category Description Possible Points
Visual appeal & format Poster follows formatting and organization outlined in the instructions and is visually appealing. 4
Introduction – research area and motivation Poster provides strong motivation for the work and ties it to a larger research question.
Introduction – background Clearly lays out the background knowledge needed of the field and specific research questions. 6
Objectives Clearly defines specific research objectives in succinct manner 6
Methods Accurately and unambiguously describes research methods for experiments presented in the poster. 6
Results text Summarizes main purpose and findings of each figure. 6
Results figures Appropriate graphical representation of data with stand-alone figure captions 6
Conclusions & future directions Clearly summarizes main conclusions and future research ideas for this study. 6
References Must appropriately reference at least 2 primary scientific articles and at least 4 total articles. 4

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