Road to the Symposium Blog – June 21st, 2018

By: Jill Hardin

Having attended the OHDSI Symposium since 2016, I find that poster preparation takes a fair amount of work. Based on my previous experiences, I wanted to share a few ideas that may help others preparing posters.

With every poster presentation, I like to plan ahead. I try to avoid being ill-prepared, or even worse, late and under pressure to finish the poster in a rushed fashion. As any scientist knows, we have co-authors to consider when preparing our work. Therefore, the first recommendation is to establish authorship order before a poster is developed and revisit the order if the project changes over time or if one person contributes more than another. The second recommendation is to establish weekly or bi-weekly meetings to review progress on the poster and get everyone’s interpretations of the findings. This process can generate new research to add to the poster and is important for including everyone’s voice. In the corporate or government environments, posters or presentations might need to undergo legal, compliance, and/or scientific review. In our company, we must submit our finalized work weeks in advance of the OHDSI abstract deadline date and poster finalization. Therefore, a third recommendation– leave time in the schedule in case the review requires substantial changes to your poster.

A short aside – during my first year at OHDSI, I excitedly drove to the airport, eager to meet new people in the OHDSI community and to present my poster. I was looking forward to finding likeminded people to discuss the topic. On my drive, I mentally reviewed my checklist for the trip, and EEK… I realized 15 minutes from the airport that I had left my poster tube at home. I did not have sufficient time to go home, retrieve the poster, and still arrive on time for my flight. In a panic, I turned the car around and frantically called the airline to share my dilemma. They graciously allowed me (and the poster I retrieved) to board the next flight. If this happens to you, there are locations near the hotel where posters can be prepared in 24 hours. For example, FedEx at 12125 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda is just 1 mile from the hotel or you can also use an online company like PhD posters ( and have them ship the poster directly to the hotel! Unfortunately, although the hotel has a business center, it is not able to print scientific posters. So fourth recommendation – don’t panic if you forget your poster.

Fifth recommendation— during the poster presentation, be sure that you or another of your coauthors stay with your poster, even if it is tempting to wander to other posters you find interesting. People want to hear from you about your work and want to ask about your study findings. There will be time to peruse other work after your poster session is over.

Last and final recommendation – have fun and sit among people you don’t know to make new friends. Maybe you’ll end up being close collaborators on a future study.

Check out Laura Hester’s blog entry here: