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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 224-226  

Poster presentation at medical conferences: Points to ponder

Date of Web Publication1-Mar-2016

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DOI: 10.4103/0975-2870.177670

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. Poster presentation at medical conferences: Points to ponder. Med J DY Patil Univ 2016;9:224-6

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. Poster presentation at medical conferences: Points to ponder. Med J DY Patil Univ [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Aug 10];9:224-6. Available from:

In medical conferences of state, national or international level, posters are a common way for the participants to present their research work. Many students or young researchers are likely to face the challenge of presenting their research via an academic poster. The aim of this editorial is to guide and convey ideas/suggestions for preparing better scientific posters.

Some advantages of presenting research findings in conferences are:

  1. It helps to develop scientific ability in early career scientists by providing opportunities for learning different research approaches
  2. It facilitates early dissemination of the information, which may have direct or indirect impact on the decision making in clinical practice [1],[2]
  3. At a personal level, a good poster at a conference helps to develop your national reputation, network, collaboration, and helping in job opportunities
  4. It also helps with manuscript preparation by organizing your thoughts, shaping analyses, interpretation, and future research direction based on the feedback obtained from delegates and judges of the poster session. [3] It has been documented that about 45% presented abstracts reach full publication. [4]

Medical students and specialists lack the training related process of writing abstract, organizing the data for preparing for a poster presentation at the scientific conference. Recently, the STROBE (Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology) initiative published a checklist for conference abstracts which includes a list of items and recommendations for abstracts to gain better positions in research conferences. [5]

Most conferences provide an opportunity to present the research work as either a poster or oral presentation. Each has its distinct advantages. Poster presentation may attract a larger audience and provide an opportunity for longer discussions as compared to oral presentation, which has time constraints. Poster presentation receives visitors who are interested in or having expertise in that particular field. This makes it more interesting and challenging to the presenter. On the other hand, oral presentation allows in-depth presentation of the methodology, diagrammatic analysis of the data which may not be possible on the poster due to space constraints. Most conferences have fewer slots for oral presentation as compared to the poster. We recommend poster presentation as a suitable first presentation experience for the junior scientist at national level conferences. Details of the oral presentations can be found elsewhere. [6]

One needs to select the appropriate conference to present research work. Preparation and submission of an abstract are important stages in the life cycle of a research project presentation. An abstract is a condensed version of a full scientific paper. It describes a study and its results. It is a mean of conveying to one's peers what was done and why, what was found, and what the implications are. [7]

In any poster, although the content of the research work is the most important part, factors increasing a poster's visual appeal include high-quality pictures, graphs, and limited text. In preparing the poster, the first step is to visit the conference website for specifications and guidelines of the poster session. The instructions for the posters should be meticulously followed as regards size, word count, etc. Poster templates may be in landscape or portrait format.

While preparing the poster, one has to remember the rule of 10. A person should be able to scan your complete poster within 10 seconds from 10 feet away. When someone stops, you should be able to introduce your poster in 10 seconds, and they should be able to assimilate all of the information and discuss it with you in 10 min. [3] The title catches potential readers' first glimpse of your poster, so make it interesting, catchy, short, and easy to read from a distance. Start by introducing the two or three key questions you have decided will be the focus of your poster, and then provide a brief overview of data and methods. Given the limited time allotted to the presentation, the idea that "a picture is worth a thousand words" clearly comes to the fore. The images are the most attractive part of the poster and should catch the attention of the viewers. The images can be of clinical photography, photomicrography, intra-operative photography, and radio-images. It is a good idea to put black or contrast matching border to make it more visually appealing. It must also be mentioned that explanatory notes to the figures should be bold and readable. Many of the delegates are tempted to read the title, look at the images, and then decide whether to go into the details of the poster. Any bar diagrams and three-dimensional (3D) graphs should be used with proper color perceptions. 3D graphs look impressive, but may obscure true differences among bar heights. [8]

Close with a summary of your findings and their implications for research. The "take home" message should be explicit, short, and easy to remember and highlighted to gain attention.

Putting few references indicates that you have reviewed of the literature pertaining to the subject. The references should be up to date and from standard resources. These should be few in number, keeping to the key references, and the font size should be smaller (about 50%) of the text words. The ideal formats and details of how to prepare abstract and posters can be studied from the literature. [3],[4],[7],[9]

Many experts in the field have also expressed the need to improve the quality and educational value of poster exhibitions. [10] It is a good idea to ask your peers in the institute/department to review the poster at least 2 weeks before the conference and solicit their comments/suggestions as regards readability, figures, clarity, flow of ideas, and summary in the drop box kept by the side of the poster. This will give you feedback and thereby an opportunity to improve your poster before final presentation. Your presentation should not be merely a traditional academic poster, but also an effective means of communicating the research work to the attendees when it is accompanied by oral communication with delegates. The presenter should be ready with a brief oral synopsis of the purpose, findings, and implications of his/her work to inform interested parties as they pause to read the poster. One may prepare handouts to distribute to interested viewers. [11]

A new system for presenting posters called "Digital Interactive Poster Presentation" (DIPP) has been proposed by De Simone et al. [12] The DIPP is a pdf version of a traditional poster that can be projected on a wall or screen at allotted times. The advantage of DIPP is that a presenter can enlarge parts of the poster to concentrate on specific aspects of the research. The DIPP file can be made available online by conference organizers so that the participants can browse through and retain the information. This contrasts with the traditional poster, which often remains on the departmental walls for some time before it eventually deteriorates and is thrown away.

Electronic poster (E-poster) presentations are similar to traditional poster presentations but presented on a large computer screen. It is projected on liquid-crystal displays in the "Landscape" position. An E-poster can consist of a pdf version of a traditional poster or multiple power point slides, which may include multimedia or videos. E-posters are evolving "day by day" for making poster sessions more informative, attractive, and interactive. The latest version is the web-based E-poster. E-posters have advantages such as low cost, ease of preparation, carriage, display to a broad audience, and huge archival capabilities, as compared with traditional posters. [13] Such E-posters are now being frequently used in national and international conferences, even in India.

In conclusion, poster presentations are very important learning opportunities in the career of a budding scientist. It is hoped that this article will be helpful to junior research workers for upcoming conferences of various medical disciplines.

  References Top

Deonandan R, Gomes J, Lavigne E, Dinh T, Blanchard R. A pilot study: Research poster presentations as an educational tool for undergraduate epidemiology students. Adv Med Educ Pract 2013;4:183-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
Falagas ME, Rosmarakis ES. Clinical decision-making based on findings presented in conference abstracts: Is it safe for our patients? Eur Heart J 2006;27:2038-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Wood GJ, Morrison RS. Writing abstracts and developing posters for national meetings. J Palliat Med 2011;14:353-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Pierson DJ. How to write an abstract that will be accepted for presentation at a national meeting. Respir Care 2004;49: 1206-12.  Back to cited text no. 4
Hulegar A, Tandon N, Rangarajan S, Gharaibeh A, Francisco J. Bonilla-escobar poster presentations: A presenting opportunity in conferences for medical students. Int J Med Stud 2014;2: 38-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Keshavan V, Tandon N. How to give an effective presentation. Asian J Psychiatr 2012;5:360-1.  Back to cited text no. 6
Boullata JI, Mancuso CE. A "how-to" guide in preparing abstracts and poster presentations. Nutr Clin Pract 2007;22: 641-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
Block SM. Do′s and don′t′s of poster presentation. Biophys J 1996;71:3527-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
Miller JE. Preparing and presenting effective research posters. Health Serv Res 2007;42:311-28.  Back to cited text no. 9
Beamish AJ, Ansell J, Foster JJ, Foster KA, Egan RJ. Poster exhibitions at conferences: Are we doing it properly? J Surg Educ 2015;72:278-82.  Back to cited text no. 10
Goodhand JR, Giles CL, Wahed M, Irving PM, Langmead L, Rampton DS. Poster presentations at medical conferences: An effective way of disseminating research? Clin Med 2011;11: 138-41.  Back to cited text no. 11
De Simone R, Rodrian J, Osswald B, Sack FU, De Simone E, Hagl S. Initial experience with a new communication tool: The ′Digital Interactive Poster Presentation′. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 2001;19:953-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
Powell-Tuck J, Leach S, Maccready L. Electronic poster presentations in BAPEN - a controlled evaluation. Clin Nutr 2002;21:261-3.  Back to cited text no. 13

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