# Putting-it-together

Statistics Poster Competition Update - Putting It All Together

In the previous three issues of the Interchange, the Michigan Statistics Poster Competition (MSPC) was described. All K-12 Michigan students are eligible to enter the competition. Further information, the registration form, and a complete set of rules are available here. You may also contact Dan Frobish at frobishd@gvsu.edu for additional information.

A statistics poster is a visual display that uses one or more related graphs to summarize data, discuss different points of view, and answer question(s) about the data. In the December 1999/January 2000 issue of Interchange, we offered suggestions for the display of statistical data. We reviewed the types of data; qualitative data - data that can be broken into categories, and quantitative data - numerical data. We further broke down quantitative data into discrete data - data that can only take on certain values within a range of numbers, and continuous data - data that can be any value within a range of numbers. Then, we discussed graphs that are appropriate for each type of data. In this article, we focus on how to most effectively communicate your message in a statistical poster.

Let us begin with one important rule: There is no one right way to make a statistical poster. However, there are common features that make for an effective poster. The most important feature of a successful statistical poster is that everything on the poster is correct. All the bells and whistles imaginable can not make up for incorrect information. The graphs must be an accurate description of the data. Titles, axis labels, legends, conclusions, etc. must be representative of and supported by the data. This does not mean that your graphs should "play it safe." On the contrary, the more bold you are in your conclusions the more likely that a reader of the poster will become engaged in the subject matter. Just be certain that you are drawing conclusions based on the evidence contained in the data and not on personal bias or preconceived notions.

Another feature of the successful statistical poster is that there is one unifying message throughout the poster. Decide what question is central to your study. The poster is your medium for delving into the issues surrounding this question. All material contained in the poster should have a connection to the question and that connection should be identifiable by the reader of the poster. If the reader asks herself the question: "What does this graph have to do with the study?"; then the poster has failed to convey your message. Titles of graphs should be descriptive enough that the reader can ascertain the relationship of the graph to the central question.