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Designing a High Quality and Accessible Scientific Poster

Author(s): David Wayne Bollivar1, Christy Fillman2, C. Nicole Sunnen3, Quinn Vega4, Christa Bancroft5, Denise Monti6, Viknesh Sivanathan7, Kirk R Anders8, Dondra Bailey9, Michele Barmoy10, Tonya Bates11, Beth Behr12, Suparna Bhalla13, Megan Carroll14, Steven M Caruso15, Nancy Castro5, Hui-Min Chung16, Kristen Clermont17, Tom D'Elia14, Randall DeJong18, Iain Duffy19, Ann-Scott Ettinger8, Maria Elena Baez Flores20, Bryan Gibb21, Lee E Hughes22, Karen Klyczek23, Kathryn Kohl24, Julia Lee-Soety25, Bhaswati Manish26, Sean McClory17, James Melton27, Fernando Nieto28, Imade Nsa29, Shallee Page30, Vipaporn Phuntumart31, Pushpa Ramakrishna7, Ombeline Rossier32, Elizabeth Rueschhoff33, Yesmi Patricia Ahumada Santos20, Martha Smith-Caldas34, Sarah Swerdlow35, Jesus Ricardo Parra Unda20, Ellen Wisner36

1. Illinois Wesleyan University 2. University of Colorado, Boulder 3. Saint Joseph's University 4. Montclair State University 5. University of Southern California 6. University of North Florida 7. Howard Hughes Medical Institute 8. Gonzaga University 9. Coppin State University 10. Allegany College of Maryland 11. UNC Charlotte 12. Madison Area Technical College 13. Mount Saint Mary College 14. Indian River State College 15. University of Maryland, Baltimore County 16. University of West Florida 17. La Salle University 18. Calvin University 19. Saint Leo University 20. Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa 21. New York Institute of Technology 22. University of North Texas 23. University of Wisconsin-River Falls 24. Winthrop University 25. Saint Joseph’s University 26. Metropolitan Community College 27. Spelman College 28. SUNY Old Westbury 29. University of Lagos 30. Franklin Pierce University 31. Bowling Green State University 32. University Paris-Saclay 33. Indiana University - Southeast 34. Kansas State University 35. Thiel College 36. University of North Carolina Charlotte

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The aim of this project is to help undergraduates understand the importance of making their research accessible to a wide audience and to practice this idea by deliberately designing a scientific poster that is accessible to a more inclusive…


The aim of this project is to help undergraduates understand the importance of making their research accessible to a wide audience and to practice this idea by deliberately designing a scientific poster that is accessible to a more inclusive audience.

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 2.1 - published on 10 Apr 2024 doi:10.25334/ZGX3-Q420 - cite this


Description:  This resource is designed to teach undergraduate students how to design a scientific poster that is accessible to diverse audiences in preparation for the annual SEA Symposium. 

The resource includes:

  1. A PowerPoint presentation that can be used to introduce the scientific poster design.
  2. #BetterPoster PowerPoint templates
  3. A checklist students can use to evaluate their posters prior to printing.
  4. A fully validated rubric outlining the steps an expert would take to develop a scientific poster.
  5. A poster reflection activity that can be used to enhance student engagement at the SEA Symposium. 

The activities are designed to be used with students who have already completed their research and have results and figures.

Learning objectives: 

After completing this module, students should be able to:

  1. Identify key features of accessible scientific poster design.
  2. Communicate research findings to a wide audience in the form of a scientific poster.
  3. Demonstrate effective use of accessibility in poster design.
  4. Critically evaluate a scientific poster at a scientific meeting.

How is the resource structured to promote student development as a scientist?  Disseminating scientific research is an important skill for all STEM majors.  One of the most common ways that scientific research is presented at meetings is through scientific posters, and students continue to use this skill after their undergraduate career in graduate school and other research-focused careers.  The focus of this resource is to help students develop a scientific poster using inclusive design practices.

Intended Teaching Setting

Course level:  majors or non-majors of any level that conduct research

Instructional Setting:  in-person, could be used in a remote class if students have already conducted a research project

Implementation Time Frame:
3-6 hours total
Introductory PowerPoint – 30 min.
Poster design – 1-3 hours (varies)
Peer review/poster checklist – 20-30 min.
Poster design reflection – 30 min. (or outside of class)

Acknowledgments:  #BetterPoster by Mike Morrison (; HHMI SEA-PHAGES Program

Project Documents

Facilitator document:
0 – Designing an Accessible Scientific Poster Facilitator Guide

Learning activity document(s): 
1 – Poster Introductory PowerPoint
2 – #BetterPoster Templates
3 – SEA Scientific Poster Checklist
4 – SEA Symposium Reflection Activity

Assessment document(s):
5 – Designing an Accessible Scientific Poster Validated Rubric

6 - Designing an Accessible Scientific Poster Scoring Rubric

External Links

YouTube Video:  How to create a better research poster in less time (20:52)

MIT Blog:  Towards an "#evenbetterposter": improving the #betterposter template



Version 1 is the original posted version of the resource.  

Version 2 posted in February 2024.  This version of the resource contains an updated Introductory PowerPoint slideset that can be used to introduce accessible poster design to research students.  A validated (2 rounds of validation) rubric for designing an accessible scientific poster is also included in the resource.  A poster checklist that reflects important elements in the validated rubric was developed to assist students in editing their posters.  A symposium reflection activity was also included to assist students in engaging in meaningful dialogue with poster presenters at the symposium.  Version 2 also contains links to Mike Morrison's #BetterPoster resource page and a YouTube video that introduces the #BetterPoster.  

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • David Wayne Bollivar, Christy Fillman, C. Nicole Sunnen, Quinn Vega, Christa Bancroft, Denise Monti, Viknesh Sivanathan, Kirk R Anders, Dondra Bailey, Michele Barmoy, Tonya Bates, Beth Behr, Suparna Bhalla, Megan Carroll, Steven M Caruso, Nancy Castro, Hui-Min Chung, Kristen Clermont, Tom D'Elia, Randall DeJong, Iain Duffy, Ann-Scott Ettinger, Maria Elena Baez Flores, Bryan Gibb, Lee E Hughes, Karen Klyczek, Kathryn Kohl, Julia Lee-Soety, Bhaswati Manish, Sean McClory, James Melton, Fernando Nieto, Imade Nsa, Shallee Page, Vipaporn Phuntumart, Pushpa Ramakrishna, Ombeline Rossier, Elizabeth Rueschhoff, Yesmi Patricia Ahumada Santos, Martha Smith-Caldas, Sarah Swerdlow, Jesus Ricardo Parra Unda, Ellen Wisner (2024). Designing a High Quality and Accessible Scientific Poster. HHMI Science Education Alliance (SEA) Faculty Group, (Version 2.1). QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/ZGX3-Q420

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