23 November 2022

Can you give the same poster twice? And should you?

Don’t let the “Twitter is dying” talk stop you, there are still many valuable discussions on the bird site!

Luisa Turbino Torres asked if people thought it was okay to present the same poster twice at conferences.

People had... opinions. They ranged close to a full 180­° from, “Sure, totally okay” to “That’s misconduct!”

Turbino Torres summarized the responses in this thread. Here is an edited excerpt:

Short answer: it depends.

Social sciences use conferences to workshop ideas in different stages. Other fields present ready-to-publish research (that is often officially published in conference proceedings).

If you present something that is in progress, as long as there is progress (i.e., posters are similar, not identical. - ZF), it should be okay to present at another one. But if you present a final draft that just needs a few tweaks before publishing, it seems less productive.

It is not a bad idea to present (a poster) in more than one space because you are making your work known and disseminating it to different audiences. If you do interdisciplinary work, it seems okay and desirable to present to different audiences.

(But) maybe don’t present the exact same abstract at the exact same conference in a consecutive year. Some conferences ask you not have presented the same abstract previously (emphasis added). 

Some institutions and organizations might not fund the same abstract twice. But they might only check the title or actually check the abstract, it depends on the institution.

The best advice I got from this from Keith Schnakenberg: “You should keep presenting the same paper until the comments are almost all predictable and then you can submit the paper.”

TL;DR: Familiarize yourself with the unspoken rules of your discipline and department / institution (by asking a mentor or advisor, for example), but do not be too attached to them.

I discuss this in the Better Posters book. Chapter 25 begins with a short section on “Encore presentations” (pages 248-249). I wrote that reusing the exact same identical poster is not ideal. It’s good to be up front about it if you do.

Since we are coming up on the holiday season, this is a good time for me to remind you that the Better Posters book makes a great addition to your wishlist or your giving list!

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