05 March 2015

Are posters a visual aid, or a stand alone document?

Jason McDermott has an excellent question:

SciTweeps - which camp are you in? The A) “poster as a visual aid to a presentation w/minimal text” or B) “poster as a complete manuscript”?

There are some definition issues here. When I hear “manuscript,” I think that implies a journal article. That, to my mind, is way too detailed and too much stuff. A poster is not be a journal article and should not necessarily follow its conventions.

The other part of option B, though, is “complete.” As I’ve said before, a poster should be self-contained. It should present a complete narrative that does not need a speaker to guide you through it or explain it. A poster should be more than just a billboard or decoration; a poster should have substance.

I am intrigued by the responses. Most responses favoured minimalism.

I prefer (A), but there should be enough text for the reader to understand the results without you being there - Kelsey Wood

A, always A - Auriel Fournier ‏

A. Always! That's the difference between a poster and a journal article. Posters are for work in progress. Publish once done - Matthias Lein

The contrary point of view is interesting, though:

I don’t want your song-and-dance routine, I want your data; plus, what if you're not there when I am? - Bill Hooker

90% A, 10% B. (Some things really need text.) - Chemjobber

Depends on venue. If you never leave poster, A. Otherwise, needs enough B for people to critically evaluate. - Peter Thompson

Noah wanted to dig deeper:

Can’t we split the difference? C) "poster as cues to provoke interesting questions, answer boring ones."

And from there the conversation went all Game of Thrones:

We already suffer about as much carnage as G.R.R. Martin’s characters - and about as much job security. - Jason McDermott

“The red conference” - noah ‏

Book 1: “A trial of tenure.” Book 2: “A lack of funding” - Francois Gould

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Picture by char booth on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.

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