Contributed Poster FAQ

Submitting Contributed Poster Abstracts

1. I led an interesting project this year that I would like to present. Should I submit it as a poster or a paper?

Does your project relate to the theme of a program session? If so, you may want to consider submitting it as a paper. Papers should be on a topic of interest to a large proportion of attendees, in general, or in a particular section. In general, paper acceptance is more competitive than poster acceptance, and so some consider papers a more prestigious form of presentation.

If your topic is likely to be of interest to a more focused group of attendees, a poster may be ideal. Posters provide an opportunity to showcase your work improving services or practices and to discuss your experiences with others dealing with similar issues. Your presentation style and the graphical nature of the material you want to present may also affect your decision to submit your topic as a paper or a poster.

For information about submitting a contributed paper, check out the Contributed Paper FAQ.

2. How do I submit a poster abstract?

Abstracts are to be submitted using MLA's online abstract submission process. To use the system, you need to create an account with a login name and access key password. The steps in the process should be clear once you are in the system. You may continue to make changes to your abstract until the submission deadline, which is Friday, November 1, 2013, at midnight, central time. There will be no extensions of this deadline. You are encouraged to submit your abstract by October 30, 2013, to avoid the last-minute rush and allow time for technical assistance, if needed.

The abstract submission should recognize authors from past MLA annual meetings and connect you to your existing author profile once you enter your name and email. If your information has not changed, you do not need to change anything in your author profile. You do need to have author profiles for all of your coauthors, but if they were also authors at past MLA annual meetings, their author profiles are ready to go, too. You can then proceed to submitting your abstract.

3. What is the REQUIRED FORMAT for a poster abstract?

You MUST write a blinded, structured abstract in English. Please refer to the MLA Research Section page for guidance on writing a structured abstract. Examples and additional information are available on the Research Section’s home page. Please consult the MLA Style Manual for guidance on style, spelling, and grammar.

4. What do I need to do to BLIND my abstract?

To allow blinded review, author names, institutional affiliations, and address information must be listed in the author section of the electronic submission system ONLY, NOT in the body of the abstract. MLA reserves the right to edit abstracts containing any author, institutional, or company names for the purpose of eliminating this identifying information before sending the abstract to reviewers. Authors are urged to blind their abstracts themselves, because MLA cannot guarantee the resulting quality if changes must be made after submission.

5. What sections MUST be included in my abstract?

Your submission MUST include the objective and methods sections of the structured abstract. The objective section (for which you may substitute the research question) may not exceed 60 words, and the methods section (which may include brief descriptions of the population and expected results) may not exceed 140 words.

For the author block, please try to ensure that the author information you provide is as complete and accurate as possible. If you need to update author information, you may return to the abstract submission site to make the necessary changes. However, the site will be closed to further updates by February 19, 2014 (7:00 p.m., central time).

6. May I enter my results and conclusions when I submit my abstract?

Yes, you may enter your results and conclusions now. All parts of the abstract (objectives, methods, results, and conclusion sections combined) may not exceed 400 words. This information will NOT be shared with reviewers. The information will be saved for inclusion in the final abstract if your paper is accepted.

Authors MAY postpone entering results and conclusions until after the peer-review process is completed. Authors selected for inclusion in the program will need to add the results and conclusions sections by February 19, 2014 (7:00 p.m., central time) if they did not already do so in the initial abstract submission.

7. May I include tables, figures, or citations in my abstract?

Structured abstracts should NOT contain tables, figures, or bibliographic references.

8. Are there font recommendations for the abstracts?

Times New Roman, 10-point font, and Symbol font for symbols are the recommended fonts.

9. Should I choose to be considered for the Research Section Award?

Every year, the MLA Research Section gives out several awards recognizing those paper and poster presenters whose work demonstrates high-quality research. All submitters are required to either select a type of research or designate that their presentation is not research. Those who select any type of research will be considered for the Research Awards judging process. Please check your submission to ensure that you have selected the type of research that best represents your work. For help in selecting the type of research, please see the “Inventory of Research Methods for Librarianship and Informatics,” published in the January 2004 issue of the Journal of the Medical Library Association and available on PubMed Central.

10. Can I submit a poster that I have previously presented at another meeting?

As long as the poster has been revised based on feedback or new results since it was previously presented, it may be submitted.

11. Can I submit my poster to more than one meeting at the same time?

As long as a poster has been developed or adapted for a specific meeting audience, it may be submitted to more than one meeting.

12. Is it possible to specify a preferred poster session?

Unfortunately, you are not able to specify a preferred poster session. You will need to be prepared to present on the day you are assigned unless you have extenuating circumstances.

13. How will my poster abstract be evaluated?

The author block and any other identifying information will be removed from your abstract to create a blinded abstract.

The blinded abstracts will be sent to the poster review panel for review. The reviewers will evaluate the blinded poster abstracts based on the following criteria:

  • originality and innovation
  • organization and clarity of presentation
  • relevance to the health sciences librarianship and meeting theme
  • potential for improving service or practice

14. How will I know if my abstract is accepted?

The week of December 16, 2013, the primary author will receive by email an automated acceptance/rejection notification letter. All authors will be notified by email that the primary author has been sent the notification email. If you are primary author and have not received the notification email by December 21, please contact Tina Vickery.

15. How do I withdraw or cancel an abstract or poster?

All withdrawals or cancellations must be in writing and emailed to Tina Vickery, meeting manager. Be sure to include the full title of your abstract, abstract control number, and author name.

Withdrawn abstracts will be removed from the process as quickly as possible. Accepted abstracts canceled close to the publication date may still be included in the abstract supplement.

Preparing for the Meeting

16. My poster abstract has been accepted. Now what? Are there other deadlines?

Travel arrangements should be made as soon as possible after acceptance in December 2013, this is especially critical for international presenters who may need additional time. At least one author MUST be available to present the poster at the annual meeting on the date and time assigned. See MLANET for meeting registration and hotel information. If presenters need an invitation to present at the meeting to make travel arrangements, contact Susan Chesniak.

By February 19, 2014 (7:00 p.m.), update your abstract information in the abstract submission system. This update must include: unblinding any sections of the abstractthat require clarification and adding results and conclusions if they were not included in the original submission. All parts of the abstract (objectives, methods, results, and conclusion sections combined) may not exceed 400 words. Results and conclusions are part of what is considered for Research Section Awards.

17. I got an email asking me to send an electronic copy of my poster to MLA ahead of the meeting. How will the electronic copy of my poster be used ahead of the meeting?

In the spring, you will be reminded to upload a PDF or PowerPoint file of your poster to the abstract submission site by April 28, 2014. When your poster is complete, you can upload through the same website that you entered your abstract. Remember, you can upload the same file that you provide to your printer (as a PDF or PowerPoint file). An electronic copy of your poster will be made available by MLA on MLANET. You can also upload any additional media that you would like attached to your poster. The conversion of your poster, abstract, and media into this display format will be done automatically. Email and chat help are available on this site to answer any questions. The file will be put on MLANET so that attendees can preview your work and come to the session with researched and knowledgeable questions, targeting the most relevant posters. Files received after the website closes may be posted on MLANET after the meeting.

18. I have never done a poster before; can you point me to some practical tips?

Fred Stos developed an excellent resource for clients at the Arts and Sciences Library at State University of New York–Buffalo. This comprehensive resource includes practical tips on creating, developing, and presenting a poster whether it is electronic or not.

19. What are some general guidelines I should think about when designing a poster?

  • Your poster should be about 20% text, 40% graphics, and 40% white space.
  • Use the active voice on all text.
  • Keep text to the absolute minimum.
  • Text should be at least 28 or 32 points in size. The bigger, the better for text to be readable from a distance.
  • Posters are graphical presentations. Special emphasis should be placed on charts, tables, and photos.
  • Backgrounds using light colors work best.
  • Consider materials when designing the poster. Soft vinyl plastic is lighter weight and takes up less space when rolled than traditional laminated paper.
  • Include a financial disclosure statement to inform the audience that you have a financial or other beneficial interest in the information being presented, if applicable.
  • Consider how you will transport your poster. Multiple panels are easier to handle than one panel. Note the standard size of available shipping containers if you plan to ship your poster ahead. You do not need to fill the entire poster board. It can be smaller than the display space and still be easily viewed. Consider producing your poster onsite at a local quick copy shop.
  • If you decide to laminate your poster, consider using a matte or low-glare finish. People will be able to read your poster more easily from a distance regardless of the lighting angle. There will also be less glare if a picture is taken.

20. When are the poster sessions?

Your poster will be assigned to one of the three poster sessions at MLA ’14. Sessions will be held in the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The schedule is:

  1. Sunday, May 18, 3:30 p.m.–4:25 p.m.
  2. Monday, May 19, 3:30 p.m.– 4:25 p.m.
  3. Tuesday, May 20, 1:00 p.m. - 1:55 p.m.

21. What equipment is supplied for each poster?

Each poster presenter will have a cork board measuring 8 feet (2.4 meters) wide and 4 feet (1.2 meters) high. If you require a chair, you must request one in advance from Tina Vickery, meeting manager.

22. What size is the poster backdrop? How much room is really available for my poster?

The cork board measures 8 feet (2.4 meters) wide by 4 feet (1.2 meters) high and will be available for all poster presenters. There is a border around the cork board that is about 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) wide. Other than the border, all remaining space is usable.

23. What kind of equipment do I need to attach my print poster to the display board (tape, pushpins, etc.)?

Pushpins, tape, and other mounting materials such as Velcro can be used to attach your poster to the provided display board. These are not provided; you will want to bring these supplies with you or ship them ahead with your poster. T-pins work well but do take a little bit of strength to get them into the board. The mounting material you select will depend greatly on the style and thickness of your poster.

24. What else do I need to bring to the poster session?

Consider bringing scissors, pens, business cards, and paper to take down notes or comments and contact information from visitors to your poster.

25. Should I bring handouts and other giveaways?

In an effort to keep the meeting as green as possible and limit paper waste, only bring handouts if they are absolutely necessary. If you do opt to bring handouts, bring a limited number because you will need to transport them. An electronic copy of your poster will be made available by MLA on MLANET. Many participants may prefer to access information about your poster this way as it eliminates the need to carry around so much paper.

26. Is there an electronic file of the meeting logo that I can place on my poster?

Yes, the official meeting logo is available electronically for use with presentations.

At the Meeting/Final Preparations

27. Can I ship the poster ahead of and after the meeting?

Presenters are responsible for the transport of posters session materials to and from the meeting site. If you are going to ship your poster materials, ship them to the hotel in care of yourself. For your protection, please use a shipping method that can be tracked such as UPS or Federal Express, and bring all tracking information with you in case of a problem.

28. What if my poster is lost?

It is advisable to bring a stored electronic copy with you to the meeting. It is likely you would be able to find a facility that can print a fresh copy for you in the worst-case scenario.

29. When do I hang up and take down my poster?

Posters may be put up any time before your session when the Hall of Exhibits is open starting Saturday evening. Posters may remain up until 2:30 p.m., Tuesday. It is important to remove the poster because the hall will close at 3:00 p.m., and convention center workers will take out the boards and recycle (destroy) any remaining posters to clean up the hall for next event.

30. How do I know where to hang my poster?

You will be assigned a board and a session. This information should be sufficient to locate your poster board.

31. What should I do during the session?

Have fun, answer questions, talk about your work, and share your knowledge. Poster sessions are a favorite for many attendees, a more informal way to network and talk about what we do. Enjoy it, you earned it!

32. Whom should I contact with questions regarding posters?

Questions regarding paper or electronic posters should be emailed to the poster co-coordinators: Rhona S. Kelley, AHIP, or Anne M. Linton, AHIP.

For help with other aspects of your contributed poster or presentation experience please contact staff support, Tina Vickery, meeting manager, 630.929.7922, or Ray Naegele, director of financial and administrative services; 312.419.9094 x17. Support is available 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. You are encouraged to submit your abstract by October 30, 2013, to avoid the last minute rush and allow time for technical assistance, if needed.

Viewing Posters Before and After the Meeting

33. Where and when can I view the posters online?

Online meeting content library hosted by MLA will be available about three weeks before the meeting for everyone with e-Conference registration (individual or institution) and on-site registration (Inclusive, Conference Only, and One-day.) The library will contain posters that have been uploaded by authors.

For access to posters, log in with the login information on your registration confirmation letter. If you do not have this information, follow the “Need User Name or Password” instructions on the login screen.

All paid registrants (e-Conference and onsite) will have exclusive access to online meeting content for twelve months after the meeting.

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