The fabric poster is FULL OF WIN! But...

Dec 11 2011 Published by under academia, jr faculty, on the job training

I was a little reluctant to try the fabric posters, but the one I made for this last conference was FANTASTIC. The images rendered well and it was so. easy. to. travel. with. There is no doubt I will be using fabric posters for ever and ever as long as I am doing this. Fabric posters and I are now officially BFF, as it were.

Not only are fabric posters easy to travel with and look great, but there are all kinds of interesting uses for fabric posters when you bring them home! Now, you might be able to do this with paper posters but, to be honest, I never actually bothered to do anything with them except throw them in the trash. It was a PITA to carry them wherever, I was certainly not going to schlep them home and hang them on the wall or whatever. But I digress. Now, since I just jammed it in my carry-on, I could use my poster as a cape (h/t Zwitterionique) or even make cut-out-snowflakes (Dr. Becca FTW! via Dr. Zen).

This raises an important question.  Now that I'm a PI, are my days of posters over? According to CPP:

"At this stage of your career, you should not be presenting posters at all. Indeed, you should not be submitting any abstracts at all to scientific meetings for which you are the presenter. If you don't get invited to give a talk, then you don't present. Only your trainees should be submitting abstracts as presenters."

I can actually see the logic in this...but I wonder if there might be exceptions. For example, it might take your graduate students a year or so before they are ready to present at a conference. Especially your first grad students. For example*. And perhaps you really want to take every opportunity to interact with folks and make sure they know about your most recent awesomeness.

So, I leave you with a question**: What do you think about PI's that present posters? And does it matter what kind of meeting they are at?


*at least one other extenuating circumstance came up in the comments to the previous post

**I would embed a poll, but this apparently requires super html ninja skill that are beyond me.

14 responses so far

  • qaz says:

    CPP is crazy. It depends completely on the meeting and on what the purpose of the poster is. Lots of PIs present at SFN. (At least in my field.) What CPP is correct about is the idea that as a PI, the poster is not the goal. As a PI, your job is to create a path, a research direction that (if successful) will lead to lots of posters and talks. Sometimes that means you need to present one of the posters, other times it means you need to step back and let your minions present posters. (Note: you don't need armies of minions to create a successful research path. There are labs that run with only a couple of students at any time and others that even run without minions. Nevertheless, the issue is to recognize the difference between presenting "my poster" and constructing a "lab domain".)

    On the question of whether first year students are "ready" to present a poster... if they did the work, they should present the poster. You can be nearby to help if they run into trouble, but if they never get a chance to swim, they'll never learn. But one student should never be asked to present someone else's data. If the real first author can't present, then it's your job.

  • Dr Becca says:

    I find it a tiny bit strange if a PI is presenting their own poster, but I mostly assume they couldn't afford to send their trainees. Times are tough, man!

  • bashir says:

    I recall a few years ago coming across a relatively well known professor standing by herself in front of a poster. It was a bit surprising. I gave her credit for doing it I suppose. Mostly the dynamic is that poster presenters are nervous graduate students and PIs are walking around. That was a small conference that was heavy on posters. Perhaps she just wanted to have her stuff out there. I did wonder why her graduate students weren't doing it.

    I think I generally agree with CPP.

    • Yeah PI's presenting posters are rare and should probably be kept that way. I saw it when a PI presented work that had been done by a recently departed postdoc. But seeing a PI stand by their own poster and wait for people to walk up is fun. Misery loves company.

  • Maybe this is a field-specific thing, as I know plenty of PIs that present their own posters on occasion. I've done it as well, though I do try to get my trainees to do it as often as possible. If they can't go for whatever reason, I'd rather get some publicity for my research by presenting it myself than none at all...

  • ecogeofemme says:

    This is definitely field specific. Everyone in my (old) field presents posters and they all give talks as well. I gave my first talk when I was a second year grad student (granted, it was a relatively small meeting, about 200 people). My grad advisor gives more talks than posters. I tend to think of it more about the maturity of the research, not of the presenter, i.e. you give a poster with preliminary data and then give a talk on the work when it's more developed.

    However, like differences in authorship conventions, I've found that there are also differences in presenting norms between my old and new fields. Meetings in the new field tend to have fewer sessions with more invited speakers and less representation by junior scientists. I don't really care for it.

  • Namnezia says:

    Especially at smaller meetings, I see lots of PI's presenting posters. I've done it too, especially if we have an interesting story to present and are looking for feedback. Sometimes, I'm the only one from the lab traveling to a meeting and I end up presenting the poster. So I'm not sure what CPP is getting at.

  • Zuska says:

    In the field I used to work in, posters were often preferred by the really serious scientists, PIs and trainees alike, because you could get more interaction and feedback than in a 10 minute talk with 2 minutes for "discussion". It was a smaller field then. But eventually as the field grew in size it began to be considered "prestigious" to give a talk so even if you knew you'd gain more professionally from doing a poster session, you felt pushed to the talks for career exposure, PIs and trainees alike. In the end, newbies to the field ended up in the posters, old hands gave talks. Old hands never spilled too much of their secrets, there was no time for discussion, and the newbies poured their scientific hearts out in the posters, where all the interesting discussions went on.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    No doubt field-specific, but I don't present posters unless I'm at a GRC. At the one I attend it is common for PIs to present posters. Even then I would rather have a trainee there to do it (for their experience, not because I find posters beneath me), but I can't always bring everyone. Despite what everyone says about the value of poster discussion, I would rather get my message to a wider audience and catch up with people later than stand by a poster to talk in depth with a dozen peeps.

  • Spiny Norman says:

    I see plenty of HHMI Investigators and National Academy members presenting their own posters -- more often @ GRC's or the equivalent but also at national meetings e.g., Biophysics. I'm sure CPP thinks they're doin' it wrong, and I expect he tells 'em so.

  • DJMH says:

    I see PIs give posters intermittently and for reasons that include, the trainee is home with a newborn, so I am basically in favor of the PI stepping up. The main question for Gerty is what the cost is. If standing by a poster all afternoon means you're going to miss sniffing out the competition and schmoozing with colleagues, then it's a damn stupid thing to do. But if it's a short poster session at a smaller conference, then by all means.

  • In my experience, PI's don't do posters. Moreover, the last three PI's I've worked with are divas that won't go unless they've been invited to talk. I see the issue though; it would be weird to go to a conference without participating in some way.

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