As you may know, Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, is well known for research. Many of you have been working with, or are beginning to work with research groups under the guidance of a professor. These research projects are a good start to presenting your research at research conferences. Presenting research at conferences looks good on your curriculum vitae (CV) and is highly looked upon by graduate schools. It also gives you confidence to go on and present to many different people. There are many conferences to attend, but one of the main ones that Psi Chi attends is hosted by the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA). SWPA will be held in Fort Worth, TX from April 5-7 in 2013. This conference is an opportunity to present a poster in front of a group of people and to get to know other Psi Chi members. Learning the ropes now can help you be confident in presenting at future conferences. Don’t worry, presenting at conferences may be nerve-racking at first, but before you know it, you will be a pro.
The best guideline to succeeding in presenting at conferences is to prepare (Psi Chi, 2012). If you don’t prepare you will be more stressed and create a poster that does not show your true skill level and knowledge. The first thing to do is to look at the conference website to give you an idea of the requirements that judges look for while judging posters (University of Leicaster, 2012). This can usually be found under the tab “Annual Conventions” or “Upcoming Conventions.” Then click on “Submission Guidelines”. Under this tab you will find all the information of what needs to be included in an abstract for SWPA (Southwestern Psychological Association, 2001-2012). The submission deadline for SWPA this year is November 30th by 11:59 PM. All abstracts must be turned in before this time as you will not be able to submit your abstract after this time. Make sure you include all of the required sections and keep at or under the word limit so that the judges can review the abstract. Another requirement is to make sure that you are a SWPA member (Southwestern Psychological Association, 2001-2012). You can find all of this information on the website at http://www.swpsych.org. Its important to know the deadline of submission since this knowledge can help you space out your work over time so you will not do a sloppy job. This ensures that you won't miss the deadline and regret forgetting to turn it in. The best thing to do is to write down the deadline somewhere that you will remember it, such as in your planner.
The next thing to do is to make sure that you have a professor or mentor that you can work with. This professor will advise you and help you along the way. They will also give you corrections and help you write the best abstract that you can. These professors are here for you to consult and ask questions. Let one of the professors know if you would like to work with them on research. At the last general meeting we assigned research teams and discussed research. Make sure that you have contacted the professor if you have not done so already.
The next thing is to make sure that you have a solid research problem to test, a method section, results section, and discussion. Most conferences require you to have these four sections in your abstract (Russell & Ponferadda, 2012). The abstract gives a summary of the study. The judges want to be able to thoroughly understand what the study is about. Many research poster abstracts are at least 500 words in length and include the above sections so that judges can get a thorough explanation of the study.
After your abstract has gotten approved there is still plenty to do. Presenting research as a poster is all about making your poster stand out. You want to attract the audience and have a well structured poster. The people that come to these conferences want to learn about current psychology research. This is your chance to inform them about your research and to be in the spotlight.
You must decide how you want your poster to look to make it stand out. You can have your poster horizontal or vertical. You must decide and read about how many sections you need to have on your poster. Each poster has a title along with sections such as Problem, Method, Results, and Discussion section. You must decide how you want each section to look. Each section has a header that will be smaller than the title of the poster. Another thing that you must think about is what colors you want on the poster. You can go very simple or with school colors. One thing that you should make sure about if you choose to use colors is using colors that contrast each other. The poster should be easy to read and attract the attention of the audience (University of Leicaster, 2012). You can see examples of a variety of different poster layouts by looking in the psychology department's hallway. The use of graphs and tables is very important and they must only be used if they help support your experiment (Russell & Ponferrada, 2012). You must decide how you want each graph to look and where to put them. Some graphs may be best in the results section while others may be better at the end. They can also be used to show different groups used in your experiment. The information on formatting a graph or table can be found in any APA book. Samples of posters can also be seen on the psi chi website (Psi Chi, 2012).
The key to any poster is to make sure that it is easy to read and flows (Psi Chi, 2012). The information on the poster should not be in long paragraphs because it is hard to read and takes away from the overall message. The information should be presented in bullet points that is easy to follow and that allows someone to scan the information quickly. To do this, you must decide what the most important points are that you would like to convey to the reader (University of Leicaster, 2012). The poster must include all necessary components.
The next step is to construct your poster on a power point slide. Make the layout and organize everything the way that you want it on the poster. Make sure to proofread throughout this entire process. You want the poster to look professional and a typo may take away from that. One way to avoid errors is to have your professor and other people read it before sending it to the printer (University of Leicaster, 2012). After this you will need to send the power point slide to the poster making company. This is a special company that will make the poster look professional and make it look like the posters that you see in the hallways.
It is not over when you finish your poster. Next, you have to present. Like preparing the poster, you must prepare for your presentation. Practice is the key to being successful in presenting your research because the more you practice the more confident you will feel when it comes time to presenting. Buying conference clothes is also important. Wearing professional clothes makes a good impression and also may give you the confidence boost you need. Women should wear a nice blouse and slacks or skirt and men should wear a button down and slacks.
Remember that if you do not know the answer, it is okay. Another thing to remember is to breath, stay calm, and have a little fun. It may be nerve –racking at first but with some practice, you will be a pro.
Psi Chi. (2012). Instructions for poster presentations at apa. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/conventions/apa_tips.aspx
Southwestern Psychological Association. (2001-2012). Submission guidelines. Retrieved from
Russell, C.L., & Ponferrada, L. (2012). How to develop an outstanding conference
research abstract. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 39(4), 307-311, 342.
University of Leicester. (2012). Posters. Retrieved from http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/gradschool/resources/presenting/posters