Putting Together A Research Poster

Ivan Whitaker

Ivan Whitaker

Guest Writer

The memory of how my first research poster came to be is ever-present. As I strolled through the JEMS Conference and Expo, the almost mythical landscape of large research posters quickly captured my attention, all unique in design, each seeming to have character and personality. As I got closer, I saw the titles glaring with a mythical aura. I stared at them as if they were da Vinci or Monet works of art, and with disbelief, two hours were now gone.

After reading the content in the posters, I revisited the event schedule and saw that the researchers were conducting live presentations. A few of the presenters uncovered groundbreaking results. Others made changes locally that improved outcomes. I learned much from the questions that poured in, which surfaced the need for follow-up research.

During this time, the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED) began to include poster and research presentations at NAVIGATOR. It did not dawn on me to participate until I came across a topic that would change my perception of research and its impact on evidence-based decisions. During a Priority Dispatch System™ (PDS™) protocol implementation, I participated in a Dispatch Review Committee (DRC) meeting in which the medical director completed a Special Definitions document. The medical director used the document to approve specific actions within the PDS protocol. When we got to the OBVIOUS DEATH portion of the document, she asked what research do we have that supports the OBVIOUS DEATH identifiers noted in the document?

At this point, the IAED had distribution research but no formal study on emergency dispatchers' accuracy in determining OBVIOUS DEATH. I approached Dr. Chris Olola, IAED Director of Biomedical Informatics and Research, with a hypothesis. "When emergency dispatchers have access to specific and approved OBVIOUS DEATH identifiers, they have better accuracy in identifying OBVIOUS DEATH than those that do not." Dr. Olola quickly fine-tuned the research direction, starting with the proposal and prospectus.

I was a bit intimated. The IAED and its extraordinary team of researchers rose to the occasion. Individuals like Dr. Olola, Ph.D., Dr. Isabel Gardett, Ph.D., and Greg Scott, MBA, walked me through the process, which included:

  1. Submitting a research proposal to the IAED Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  2. Receiving approval from the IAED IRB to move forward with the study
  3. Contacting agencies for data and completing the appropriate privacy agreements
  4. Using tools like STATA to analyze the data
  5. Interpreting the results
  6. Documenting the outcomes, which went through several iterations of editing

I was incredibly pleased with the work's outcome, but I could not have predicted what would follow. The IAED received a request from JEMS to submit proposal presentations. A few would be accepted to present at the upcoming JEMS Conference and Expo. I knew acceptance was a long shot. JEMS selected the research, and I could not believe my creation would be presented at such a formidable event.

The event required me to create a poster, which would be my first and new ground. We worked on the design and focused on placing the title, authors, introduction, results, conclusion, references, and acknowledgments in the body of the poster. Then, there I was, watching folks stare at my poster. Later, standing on stage, I presented the research and answered questions.

If you desire to conduct research, I suggest starting with a poster. Research posters can be based on concepts, perspectives, ideas, methods, case studies, and are not isolated to peer-reviewed research. The IAED provides a wealth of support to assist, and it's a simpler way to learn about the research process. Posters are great tools to solicit ideas from peers and to get feedback before one even develops a complete definitive research study.

If you are interested in putting together a poster for NAVIGATOR 2023 in April, I suggest checking out the IAED’s poster resources page at aedrjournal.org/poster-resources and emailing the IAED’s Academics, Research, and Communications (ARC) department immediately: aedrjournal@emergencydispatch.org