Poster Presentation & Competition

The perfect forum for students to showcase their excellence in presenting their research through an effect poster layout and communication skills.

Preparation of Posters

It is strongly suggested that ALL posters presented at the CSM conference be prepared so that they are intelligible in and of themselves, even in the absence of the presenting author(s) and without studying its abstracts.

It is suggested that the contents of each poster be divided into four categories: IntroductionBackgroundMethods Results, Discussion and Summary.

The Introduction/Background should include a background summary and state the purpose of the study in relation to previous work in the field. The  Methods should briefly summarize how the experimental work was completed; consider using simple workflow diagrams to highlight complex methodologies.The  Results/ Discussion should be divided into sections, using sub-headings, which indicate the nature of the most important findings determined with supporting data (figures and tables) shown. In general, only show essential data/ findings when possible, i.e. just those necessary to validate the conclusion, should be shown. The  Summary should give the interpretation and the significance of the main results, and an easily remembered “take home message”, even if speculative, summarizing the conclusions.

Keep the poster text to a minimum. Use point form. Eliminate all but the most essential elements to understand the research summarized on the poster. Emphasis should be on data: ie tables, charts, graphs and photos. The layout of the poster is important: sections should be clearly defined with adequate spacing. The poster can be divided either horizontally or vertically, and into three or four sections, and material placed within those sections. When choosing a background colour, select a neutral one that will be easier on the eyes. Dark photographs look darker on a light background (black is good for electron micrographs). Colour photographs look best when mounted on a neutral or grayish background. A single background colour should be used to unify the poster.

The main headings of a poster should be in a font size that is readable from a distance of 1-2 meters. Therefore, the minimum height of graphs without the ordinate labeling and of tables should be 20 cm. The following letter-size is suggested: headings such as Introduction/Background, and MethodsResults/Discussion, and Summary: 12-16 mm, sub-headings (font sizes >30 pt) within the results, labeling of figure and tables and the keyboard text, no smaller than 5 mm.

Authors should also prepare a heading label, to include the title of the poster, the authors and their addresses. The text height should be at least 40 mm high. The heading should be placed at the top center of the poster.

Poster Dimensions and Time of Display

Ideally, please prepare your poster to fit on a 3 ft (W) X 4 ft (H)  space. Poster boards used at conferences are often double sided 3 ft (W) X 4 ft (H) minimum. Please ensure that your poster is within the specified measurements indicated by the conference organizers (when indicated). Velcro or push pins or other poster adhesives will be provided. Poster sessions are scheduled for TWO days, typically on Monday and Tuesday, of the conference (see conference schedule and abstract registration for more details). You will receive an email from the CSM Meetings Secretary advising you what day your poster will be scheduled for presentation. Please refer to the Annual CSM Conference Schedule page for further details. 

Award Sponsors

Beveridge Fund

The Terry Beveridge Memorial Scholarship Fund is now sponsoring awards of $500 each for 3 meritorious poster presentations at the annual CSM conference. The award winners will be announced and presented with the award at the CSM President Banquet. 

American Society for Microbiology

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) provides one-year free membership, an eBook from its bookstore and a framed certificate for the best poster layout. The award winner will be announced and presented with the framed certificate at the CSM President Banquet. After the conference, the award winner should contact CSM Secretariat to facilitate contacting ASM for the eBook and the ASM membership.

Student Award - Poster Competition

Deadline for Extended Abstract Submission: March 20, 2023

The poster competition is intended to give students a forum to compete for a prize that should exemplify excellent work as well as clear communication of results and conclusions in the poster format. Three (3) ex aequo prizes will be awarded.

To participate in this competition, the poster presenter must be registered for “in-person registration” and a student member of the Canadian Society of Microbiologist.

Full instructions are provided in a separate section below.

Student Award - Poster Competition Guidelines

Entry Details

Previous competition winners will not be allowed to participate in the upcoming student competition in the category they previously won. A willingness to participate in the poster competition will be made with the submission of the abstract. The authors will indicate which section will be responsible for the ranking of the poster: infection and immunity, applied and environmental, or molecular genetics and cellular microbiology. Not all abstracts submitted will be chosen. A student can submit only one abstract as presenter in a Student Award Competition, and this abstract can be submitted to only one Student Award Competition.

To enter the competition, students must do the following:

  1. To enter this competition, the student must first submit a 300 words abstract online via the Annual Conference website (refer to the Annual Conference’s Abstract Submission portal for the deadline). At the time of submitting their regular abstract, the student should also indicate their intention to enter the poster competition and have an extended abstract prepared. A student cannot submit more than 1 extended abstract as the presenting author in this competition.
  2. In addition to submitting the general (300-500 word) conference abstract, an extended abstract must be submitted as a single PDF file. Please refer to and use the same extended abstract instructions on the Student Oral competition symposium. 
  3. The extended abstract format. The extended abstract must have its own brief mini-abstract at the start consisting of no more than 50 words for English language submissions or 70 words for French language submissions. As part of the main extended abstract text, include a brief introduction, methods, results and discussion. For English language extended abstracts this text must not exceed 1000 words; for French language extended abstracts this text must not exceed 1300 words. Please include and cite relevant references. All extended abstracts must include the title and a listing of all the contributing authors related to this work and their affiliations with the name of the student who submitted the abstract underlined; these additions do not count towards the 1000-word text limit of the main text for English language submissions or the 1300 word limit for French language submissions. A maximum of 4 figures and/or tables is allowed and do not count towards the abstract text limit. Figures and tables are strongly encouraged to be included as they are part of the adjudication scoring process. Materials and methods should be described in the extended abstract text, not in figure legends or table footnotes. The literature cited section should conform to the format used by the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. Please refer to the extended abstract template here for layout and formatting suggestions .

Selection of Competitors

The selection of abstracts for the poster competition will be the responsibility of the Education and Careers chair(s)(E&C) as well as the CSM section (AEM,II, MGCM) chair or vice-chairs. If for any reason either is unable to rank the abstracts E&C chair can appoint a second referee from the E&C committee or even a third party from CSM membership to assist with the rankings (eg conflict of interest, time constraint, emergency will be considered under these circumstances). A maximum of four (4) posters from each section will be retained for the competition, while the other posters will be presented as part of the regular poster sessions.

The overall ranking of the poster abstracts eligible for the competition will be agreed upon by the E&C chair(s) and section chairs. Rankings will be based on the scientific merit of the materials described in the abstract. Following ranking decisions, all applicants be notified as to whether or not their abstract has been selected for the poster competition.

The right to have a number less than 4/ section (AEM, II, MGCM) can be exercised by abstract adjudicators of the section if the quality of the extended abstracts does not warrant its entrance to the competition. The overall selection of eligible posters will not count in determining the winners.

The Competition

No less than 14 days prior to the conference, the contestants will submit a pdf file that will contain their poster as it will be presented. The pdf files will be collected centrally and distributed to the appropriate judging panels. PDF files have to be uploaded via the abstract form after being advised that you have been selected to participate in the poster competition.

Once the poster extended abstracts have been selected, all of these posters will be pooled and judged together in person at the conference during regular poster sessions.  The rationale for this is that if the 3 top posters are from one section then they should all win.

Judging Panel

Each poster will be judged by three people. Judges #1 and #2 will contribute 35 marks each, Judge #3 will contribute 30 marks for a total score out or 100.  The scores will be given to the chair of the Education and Careers Committee or their delegate who will oversee the tabulation of the scores. The person compiling and tabulating the scores must not have been a judge in the poster award competition, nor can be a co-author on any of the posters in competition.

Judges #1 and #2 will be either a chair or vice-chair from one of the sections. To spread out the judging between sections, each poster will be judged by either the chair or vice chair of the section to which they belong and the second judge will be from one of the other 2 sections. Judge #3 will be chosen from the membership at large. Judge #3 will not be a section chair or vice-chair, and will not be a co-author on any of the posters in competition.

Judge #1 and #2 Criteria

  • 25 marks allocated for the quality of the submitted pdf
  • 10 marks allocated for the response quality of questions asked to the poster presenter
  • 35 marks in total for poster judging by #1 & #2 evaluators

The rationale for poster scoring by judges #1 and 2 is that this portion of the poster evaluation should be finished ahead of time to allow the judges sufficient time to look through the presented data, assess the poster as a complete document, and formulate appropriate questions to ask prior to the poster session. These evaluation criteria allow the poster competition to proceed efficiently and implies the student should prepare a poster that is understandable in their absence.

Judge #3 Criteria

The third judge evaluates the poster and contents only without having the benefit of seeing the poster ahead of time. Many times conference attendees do not have the chance to see a poster presenter and need to interpret the poster  on what is overheard or what they can see themselves under crowded circumstances.  Judges 1 & 2 will prepare questions and an understanding of the poster material based upon the pre-submitted pdf, Judge 3 will assess the poster without prior exposure to evaluate its comprehensibility.

Extended Abstract Submission Description on Fourwaves

The extended abstract. An extended abstract must have its own mini-abstract above the main abstract text that consists of no more than 50 words; this brief mini-abstract should explain the key findings of the research in 1-2 sentences. For the main extended abstract text, include a brief introduction and background of the research to be presented, brief approaches and methods used to obtain , the results and discussion of the main findings as separate paragraphs in this section. The main abstract text should not exceed 1000 words; figure captions, tables, and references, do not count towards the 1000 words. All abstracts must include the title of the abstract and a listing of all contributing authors and their affiliations with the name of the student who submitted the abstract underlined; these additions do not count towards the 1000-word text limit of the main text. A maximum of 4 figures and/or tables is allowed, does not count towards the 1000-word limit, and strongly encouraged to be provided. Methods and approaches used to obtain the findings should be described in the main abstract text, not in figure captions/legends or table footnotes. References should be provided as a “Literature Cited” section, where references cited in text should conform to the format used by the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. An example of an extended abstract format is included a guideline here.