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Undergraduate's Guide to Creating & Communicating Research


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Erin Owens
NGL 223D
ORCID: 0000-0001-9520-9314

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What's a Research Poster?

Example of a research poster on internet inequality from the University of TexasMany researchers will present about their methods or findings at conferences before publishing them. This is a great way to get feedback from other researchers in the field so they can make their work better before publication.

Presenting at conference often takes the form of a poster presentation or a paper presentation. A paper presentation is how you might normally think about "presenting" -- You stand in front of a room and talk (probably for 20, 30, or 60 minutes) about your work, maybe with PowerPoint slides.

A poster presentation is a different way of sharing information about your work. Did you ever do a science fair display in elementary or middle school? It's a bit like that. You design and print a large poster which highlights important details about your research purpose, method, and findings. Other people at the conference walk around, look at the posters, and may ask you questions about your study. Talking about your work is less structured and mostly one-on-one in these situations, compared to writing an hour-long talk.

Posters can be an easier way to get started with sharing your research, but it still takes plenty of work to design a poster that will be eye-catching, readable, and convey the most important pieces of information clearly without a lot of clutter.

Image source: Undergraduate Research Poster Samples, University of Texas at Austin

Preparing Research Posters

If presenting in person, keep in mind:

  • Important information should be readable from about ten feet away
  • Title and text sections are clear and concise
  • Limit number of colors and fonts
  • Selected graphics should be high-quality and high-resolution to print well and not look grainy

If presenting virtually, keep in mind:

  • Just because viewers aren't standing ten feet away, don't make them squint at tiny print on their monitor
  • Content should still look clean, uncluttered, and readable
  • Use of color should still be selective and thoughtful


This 4-minute video from the American Chemical Society is a great illustration of basic poster design principles:


Poster Design Resources

Don't overdo it on your poster with busy background images that will distract readers. If your only images are your own study-related figures, that's fine! But if you find yourself needing an illustrative photo to make a research finding more clear, these resources may help.

Posters can be printed at competitive prices in the SHSU Library. We require a minimum of 48 hours to complete a print job. A 25% discount is available on poster printing requests for SHSU faculty and staff members and university departments. View sizes, prices, and policies below:

Alternative Academic Poster Format Proposed by Mike Morrison


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