Friday, 01 November 2013 00:00

How to Put Your Poster in the Cloud

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Cloud1Source background image by dotcompalsImagine walking up to a poster, snapping a QR code with your smartphone, and being connected to a permanent and citable version of that poster on the web. From there, you're a click away from connecting to the authors, reading an associated manuscript, embedding the poster in a website, or sharing it with your contacts. With the data repository figshare, this is easy to arrange.

For authors, putting your poster online grants an additional benefit: figshare collects item-level metrics on everything you post there (whether posters, datasets, or individual figures displaying your "negative results"). For those interested in new ways to measure research impact, this is a great thing. More broadly, it provides a venue for sharing and citing data that don't fit in the relatively narrow (and time-consuming, and expensive) box of a peer-reviewed journal article. In fact, some of your data may already be on figshare—PLOS supplemental data are currently being automatically hosted there. Additionally, figshare allows you to embed content in any website, like this:


While preprint servers and new models of peer review may change the future of publishing, we could also see online repositories for posters and slides impact how information is disseminated at meetings. Uploading a copy of an existing poster is a simple way to get familiar with these services.

If you're ready to upload your poster, follow these steps:

  1. Create an account at
  2. Click the upload button at the top of the screen and drag your files to the box.Cloud2
  3. Fill out the form, setting the article type to "poster," adding your coauthors, tags, and a description. You can use the "links" section to point to any manuscripts or external information you want your audience to see.Cloud3
  4. Finally, select "Public" and hit "Save Changes" to give your poster a unique DOI and make it public on the web.
  5. When you do this, a QR code will be automatically generated (see bottom right).Cloud4
  6. Right-click on the QR code, save it, and insert it into your poster. You can test the QR code by taking a picture of your screen with your smartphone. Many apps, like Google Goggles, will automatically identify QR codes. If all is working as expected, re-export to .pdf for print!

If you'd prefer not to use figshare, you can also host the poster wherever you like. Free QR code generators like Kaywa will allow you to generate images that point to any url, and you can even use it to track views over time or reassign the url currently associated with a dynamic QR code.

Having your poster online gives you another way to disseminate your research in a format that's easier to follow and more visually stunning than a paper. Putting a QR code on your normal poster at a meeting lets the people who find your research interesting show it to their whole lab when they get back home. You can put the code in other places, too: Add it to your CV to show a potential employer what your research is really about. It's hard to resist scanning one!



Jessica Polka

Jessica Polka is interested in the spatial organization of the bacterial cell. Having studied a plasmid-segregating actin homolog during her PhD with Dyche Mullins at UCSF, she is currently working on a natural and engineered bacterial compartments during a postdoc in Pam Silver's lab at the Harvard Medical School.

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