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High School Research Symposium Abstract, Poster, and Judging Information

Poster Information


***This year we ask that instead of doing traditional tri-fold poster, you should do a Power Point presentation.*** 


Acceptable poster display formats include the traditional tri-fold poster board and electronic posters (e.g., laptop and tablet). Electronic posters can be presented in a variety of formats including, but not limited to, a PowerPoint presentation, Prezi, or video.

Posters will be displayed on tables; therefore, they must be self-supportive and free standing (e.g., tri-fold cardboard, laptop, and tablet).

The following are some suggestions for making your poster regardless of format:

  • Use headings to organize your poster and make transitions from one section to another. Refer to list of sections/headings below.
  • Be careful to choose your font styles and sizes appropriately.

Additional suggestions for tri-fold poster boards:

  • An observer should be able to view your poster clearly standing at a distance of 5 feet.
  • If you are short on space on the poster, decrease the font size for the reference list.
  • You might find it useful to use presentation software (e.g., Microsoft PowerPoint) or publishing software (e.g., Microsoft Publisher) in addition to word processing software (e.g., Microsoft Word) when designing your poster. Also, putting text on a colored background will help it stand out.
  • While some scrapbook supplies might be useful for your poster, avoid using glitter and 3-D items.
  • You are welcome to bring a single large-format printed poster attached to a tri-fold cardboard poster with binder clips.

The following are suggested sections/headings for your poster:

  • Title
    • The title should be a concise description of your research.
    • It should describe the subject and variable(s) studied.
  • Name and School Affiliation
  • Abstract (additional information for the abstract provided below)
  • Introduction
    • Present a general overview of what your poster will include.
    • Provide background information necessary to understand the topic.
    • You may also include the research you used to begin your experiment.
    • Explain why you have selected the topic.
  • Hypothesis (if applicable to your research project)
    • State your complete hypothesis word for word.
  • Methods
    • Briefly describe the methods and materials used in your research.
    • How did you collect your data? How often?
  • Results
    • Present and describe the data.
    • Highlight the "big picture" of the experiment.
    • Use figures (e.g., maps, diagrams, or photographs) and tables. All figures and tables need to be numbered and have a caption. You need to refer to each figure and table in the text of the poster.
  • Conclusions
    • Restate the hypothesis and whether or not it was supported.
    • Summarize the research results and provide an explanation for why these results may have occurred.
    • Do not include any "new" information in this section.
  • References
    • Anything included in your poster that is not your own, including text, figures, and/or tables, must be referenced. You may use in-text citations or footnotes throughout your poster.
    • Please use either MLA or APA style for the reference list.

Abstract Requirements

Your abstract (maximum of 250 words) may be incorporated within your poster or attached to your posted and should include the following information about your research project:

  1. What was studied?
  2. How was it studied?
  3. What were the results?
  4. An explanation of those results.
  • Your abstract should be clear and concise. Avoid abbreviations and jargon.
  • Do not put your name or school information in the body of the abstract. Do not include the title in the body of the abstract.
Tips for Writing the Abstract

Here are a few additional tips for writing and organizing an abstract: (Note: These are suggestions. Your teacher or mentor may have other guidelines for you to follow.)

  • Describe the purposeof the project. Use your hypothesis.
Example: The purpose of this research is to determine if _____has an effect on _____.
  • Describe the methods used. Do not use first person.
Example: Three experimental groups and one control group were set up. Each experimental group was exposed to different levels of light: 4 hours, 10 hours, and 24 hours. The control group had 12 hours of light. Leaf width and stem height were measured by _____ every other day for three weeks beginning on _____.
  • Describe the results. Be sure to cover all of your major results.
Example: The experimental group with 4 hours of light grew the most, with 7 mm of leaf growth and 10 mm of stem growth. In contrast, the experimental group with 24 hours of light had the least amount of growth. Leaf size decreased by 2 mm, and stem height grew only 1 mm.
  • List the conclusions. Explain whether or not your hypothesis was supported. Give specific explanations for the results.
Example: The hypothesis was supported because the plant with the most light grew the least. There may be several explanations for this, including _____.

Based on your research design, it may make more sense to include the explanation of your results with your actual results (i.e., present the results followed by an explanation of your results) before the conclusion. This is acceptable; however, make sure your explanation is clear.

Judging Information

Students are not required to have their poster judged; however, teachers should discuss this option with their students. When students presenting posters submit their online registration form, they must indicate if they wish to present their poster to a judge or not.

The poster judging process is as follows:

  • All posters will be on display in the main display area the morning of the Symposium. Students will be expected to stand at their poster during the majority of the morning session to share their poster with Symposium visitors, including ISU professors and students, high school students and teachers, and parents.
  • If a student would like to have their poster judged, the student must indicate this on their online registration form.
  • Each student that would like to have their poster judged will be assigned a 6-minute time slot and location to present to a single judge. Time and location information will be posted on the Symposium website several days before the event as well as available the morning of the event near the check-in desk. Ten minutes prior to the student’s assigned presentation time slot, the student will pick up and move their poster from the main display area to their assigned side room to present to and receive feedback from a single judge with expertise in the research category the poster was submitted (e.g., Animal Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, etc.). Judges will include ISU professors, staff, and graduate students.
  • In order for all students to present in a timely fashion, the 6-minute time limit will be strictly enforced by an official timekeeper.
  • Students will begin their presentation with a 2-3 minute oral summary of their research. This will be followed by 2-3 minutes of questions and comments from the judge. After a total of 6 minutes, the official timekeeper will announce that time has ended and the student will pick up and move their poster back to the main display area.
  • Judges will complete a 1-page judging form, which includes written comments and the student’s division rating (I, II, III, or IV).
  • At the conclusion of the Symposium, teachers may stop at the check-in desk to pick up their student’s judging forms. Alternately, the teacher may request that the forms be mailed to their school.

For more information, please contact:

Olesya Courier, CeMaST Marketing, Event & Project Coordinator
Phone: (309) 438-1898


2020-10-27T09:54:04.35-05:00 2020