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i’ve got blu-tack on my back

maura @ 11:04 pm

As part of my 11 days 4 presentations early December extravaganza, my research partner and I presented a poster last Friday at a local conference. The speakers were great — more about them elsewhere later this week.

It’s been a long time since I’ve presented at a poster session, and I came away having had a great time and with new respect and admiration for this type of conference experience. I feel like posters are the least-desired of conference options. Everyone wants to give a paper, of course, or a panel. At the national conference for academic librarianship, at least — we didn’t really have panels back when I used to go to archaeology conferences. Papers are more exclusive, have a higher rejection rate, and thus they seem more serious.

But after last week I think posters should get more respect. It took us — by which I mean my research partner, who took the biggest time hit working with the very pretty but fussy template we were using — hours and hours and hours to get that poster laid out for printing and full of compelling text + images. It also took time to create a handout and to get the supplemental materials up on our project website, just in case anyone followed the link on our handout.

The poster session was also lots of work on the day of. At this symposium poster time = breaks, so we sort of ran back and forth between our table and the poster, running out in turns to grab coffee or hit the restroom when things got slow. There were only about 8 or so posters and 180-ish attendees, so our traffic was pretty good.

Despite all the work (and my complete inability to ride the subway home without whacking numerous passersby on the legs with the damn thing), I thoroughly enjoyed our poster presentation. It was so nice to have the opportunity to spend some time speaking *with* folks about our research rather than talking *at* them. I still get a bit nervous delivering papers/talks, too, and there are (thankfully) no butterflies when you’re just standing by an easel talking to a few people at a time. I got to meet and talk to lots of colleagues from CUNY and beyond.

Would I preferentially submit a poster in the future, given the option? That’s a good question. There is that pesky prestige problem — papers just look better on the CV. But the experience was definitely eye-opening. For sure I can say that I will certainly not avoid posters in the future. Especially if I can find a simpler template.

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