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Criteria for Judging Posters

Content (40 points)

The purpose of an exhibit is to convey to a wide audience a research project's significance to scholars in the field and its potential significance to the general public. The exhibit should testify to the careful design and execution of the research and present clear findings that are well interpreted. It must include:

  1. short title of the exhibit
  2. Abstract:  Grammar and Clarity
  3. student's name (or names, if more than one student is presenting the exhibit)
  4. collaborators, advisor(s), and department(s)
  5. funding sources
  6. proof of regulatory committee approval (if the project involves human or animal subjects or biohazardous materials)
  7. objectives or reason for research
  8. significance/relevance to the field
  9. significance/relevance to society in general
  10. project design and execution
  11. methods
  12. findings
  13. interpretation of findings and conclusions
  14. directions for future research

Display (30 points)

The core of each exhibit is a poster, with text and graphics intended for a more general audience. The poster must be mounted on the exhibit board provided and may not exceed its dimensions, which are 3.75 feet wide by 4 feet high. The poster should attract attention and convey information. Language should be simple and descriptions brief. Jargon should be avoided. Necessary technical terms should be defined. Spelling and grammar must be correct. All text should be large enough to be read from a distance of 4 to 6 feet.

Photographs, drawings, charts, tables, or graphs should be simple, well-organized, and carefully chosen to quickly explain complicated technical concepts to a wide audience. A tabletop model, computer display, video, original artwork or other demonstration may be included in the exhibit. These demonstrations, however, must clarify the work presented, not simply attract attention.

The following should be clearly presented and readable from a distance of 4 to 6 feet:

  1. title of the exhibit
  2. student's name
  3. collaborators, advisor, and department
  4. funding sources
  5. regulatory committee approval (if the project involved human or animal subjects)
  6. objectives or reason for research
  7. significance/relevance to the field
  8. significance/relevance to society in general
  9. project design and execution
  10. methods
  11. findings
  12. results
  13. interpretation of results and conclusions
  14. directions for future research

Oral (30 points)

Each student should have prepared an oral discussion of his or her exhibit. This discussion must not exceed 5 minutes. (Note that a videotape or demonstration cannot be submitted for the discussion). The oral presentation should be clear and concise, and should include the major points presented on the poster (numbers 6 through 13 above). If the student worked with collaborators on the project, including his or her adviser, this presentation should clearly describe the student's role in the overall project.

Data Visualization (30 points)

Effective communication: Clear presentation of results through visualization

  • Results: Intended message is communicated clearly to a wide audience
  • Independent message: Visualization tells a story with limited (or no) support from other poster elements
  • Fair representation: Data are accurately represented without distortion and message is consistent with other poster content

Creativity and innovation: New direction in field/approach to visualizing the data

  • Significance of graphic to research: Clearly conveyed by the visualization
  • Innovation: Visualization itself is innovative and creative
  • Inspiration: Provocative, compelling, and memorable content, message, or design
  • Unique approach: Representation of data is bold and original

Design and aesthetics: Appropriate use of color and design

  • Title, headings, labels: Appropriate size, location, spelling, and content
  • Choice of visual: Appropriate for the audience and the message being conveyed
  • Design: Aesthetically pleasing, limited clutter, good use of color contrast
  • Clarity: Appropriate balance of function and design


The exhibits are graded on a raw scale of 1 (inferior) to 100 (superior). Points are earned in three areas: Content (40 points maximum), Display (30 points maximum), and Oral (30 points maximum). Each exhibit is evaluated by multiple judges. Judges will be assigned at random. Students should expect that their entries are likely to be reviewed by judges from fields of study other than their own. 

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