I've just finished making my first research poster. Making a research poster was a new experience for me! As I tackled creating my first research poster, I found that pieces of it were intuitive, and other pieces were not. For example, I first imagined making my poster in software that supported graphic design; but, I found out that most people make their posters in PowerPoint. Also, in my opinion, a poster should have lots of graphics or pictures. However, I found that many research posters have more words than pictures. The poster is like a giant (in size), mini (in writing) paper. I thought I would provide the steps I took for mathematics education research poster-making.
Step 1: Submit your abstract and receive acceptance.
I submitted my abstract last winter to PME-NA for the conference in Chicago. The abstract is one page description of your study. It's a challenge to fit in the theory, the results, and the implications into a one page document (which also includes your references). If that abstract is accepted, then you can start making your poster! The conference wasn't until November of this year, so I didn't start my poster right away. I decided to start making my poster in October. I thought 2-3 weeks before the conference was a enough time for printing.
Step 2: Find the maximum size of poster for your conference.
You will hang your poster on an easel or on a wall provided by the conference. If the conference provides you dimensions, do not go over those dimensions if you can avoid it. Otherwise, it may be a bit awkward hanging your poster up. The maximum size for PME-NA is 4 feet by 6 feet.
Step 3: Find a poster template.
You can create your own poster template in PowerPoint with the proper dimensions. Or, you can find many free templates that are great online. Here are some websites for free templates: http://www.posterpresentations.com/html/free_poster_templates.html#36x48
When you decide what template you want, you also need to select a size. Again, making sure your template fits within the maximum space for a poster is 4' x 6'. I decided to use a template that supported a 36" x 48" (3' x 4') poster.
Step 4: Determine the main compoents/flow of the poster.
After I selected the template and the size, I decided on the essential components of my poster and the flow. For example, I decided on an introduction, methodology, results, conclusions, and contact sections. I placed these sections on the poster first and then started to fill in the information. As I filled in things got switched around.
Step 5: Words, Words, Words.
The best piece of advice for posters is less words, words, words, and more pictures, graphics, tables, etc. I think pictures, graphics, and tables are more visually appealing. Also, people will walk around during a poster session from poster to poster and although they may read some components of your poster, they may not read the whole poster. It is important the information on your poster be easily accessible. However, it seems from looking at other posters at PME-NA and NCTM last year, that many posters are full of words, words, words describing their study! My poster is full of WORDS, WORDS, WORDS because of the nature of my study. But, I think that posters with student work or pictures would certainly be crowd pleasers. I used about three different charts in my poster and tried to make them visually appealing.
Step 6: Get the poster printed.
Proof read your poster and get it printed! My friend, Megan, suggested mailing the poster to the hotel you are staying at. That way, you don't have to take the poster on the plane with you. This year, PME-NA is in Chicago, so it will be quite easy to carry the poster myself. I am getting the poster printed through the online company that provided my template and am having it delivered to my house.
Step 7: Enjoy!
Enjoy your physically giant paper/poster! I am planning on hanging it above my fire place after PME-NA. :) Just kidding! I hope if you are at PME-NA that you will stop by and see my poster!