Posters vs Talks at ICRS

Alan E Strong Alan.E.Strong at
Mon Nov 20 12:11:15 EST 2000

I heartily endorse Dr. Toscano's response...the posters could and must be done
better at the Okinawa ICRS.  Maggie talks about the recent French OCEANOBS 99
Symposium....they handle posters much the same way at AGU's Ocean Sciences
meeting with breaks/refreshments - coffee, etc. typically offered in the same
area -- it works!

Following her suggestions it would appear that one additional major change
needs to be considered.  No more than one oral paper per author (also an AGU
guideline)...if any other papers are submitted they must be posters.  This
would mean that each author would have to decide which paper was the most
important to present verbally, when it comes to feedback and getting the
information out there.  I know even this rule gets some abuse at AGU meetings,
hopefully not intentionally, as even scientists get sick or travel gets

Al Strong

"Marguerite A. Toscano, Ph.D." wrote:

> Dear Coral Listers (another long message),
> I wrote this message in response to Steve Coles' inquiry regarding the
> effectiveness of posters and talks in both conveying and taking in new
> information at a meeting.  He suggested that I share these views with all
> of you, particulary those that will be planning the 10th ICRS.  Let me say
> first that I enjoyed the Bali meeting immensely and am very glad I
> attended.  The ICRS is not nearly as big as other meetings I attend, where
> I have to make choices about which talks to miss.  If the proceedings end
> up on CD-Rom, and everyone can contribute, there will be a record for
> those talks and posters we could not get to.
> I sincerely hope that the Coral Reef symposium will continue to allow all
> presenters the choice of an oral presentation.  While I am not inflexible
> about doing a poster when needed, there are several reasons for my
> preference for talks:
> 1.  An oral presentation is a superior showcase for a paper, especially
> for a youger scientist who really needs the feedback.  A roomful of
> people listen to the talk, and that same roomful can potentially discuss
> points of the paper as a group.  This could not happen  in a poster
> session, with a few people wandering by, giving only cursory attention
> to your paper.
> In general, because I want my work to receive a great deal of attention, I
> only consider doing talks at meetings.  Since Bali I have had
> correspondence on the two talks I presented there.  This would not have
> happened if they had been posters.  Regarding presentations I wished to
> view, I derived much more from those that were talks than from posters,
> because I was more engaged in the topic and not competing with other
> people for the author's attention at a poster booth.
> 2.  The poster session at Bali was set up with two and sometimes three
> posters arranged vertically on one board (I realize this was an anomaly
> among most meetings).  How could two groups of people share the same board
> and be able to utilize the display in their discussions?  The official
> poster session evening was very crowded and hard to navigate. I was a
> co-author on 2 Bali posters, so I was in the thick of this.  I tried to
> look at posters during the remainder of the week, but then the authors
> were not avaialble for conversation. Also, as I think we all agree, the
> poster area and the poster sizes allowed were much too small.  If we are
> all going to be expected to do posters, more accomodation must be made so
> that we can actually show something and have the space to entertain
> visitors to our booths.
> 3.  Posters are very expensive to produce properly, and very problematic
> at times to create and print.  Granted, I spent a fortune on slides
> because we don't have a slidemaker here, but people have the option of
> bringing overheads, which are cheaper.  Slides and overheads are also more
> portable, and separate pieces of the presentation can later be re-used in
> other talks.
> 4.  There are many younger scientists who are excellent speakers doing
> fine research, and we deserve to be able to do talks and present our work
> in the most effective and efficient (numbers of people listening) way
> possible. All-poster meetings (where only the most prominent scientists do
> talks) reduce opportunities for young scientists to gain valuable speaking
> experience, or to attract the attention that might land them a job.  If
> the ICRS is the premier meeting for coral reef research, it would be a
> shame to limit the involvement of young scientists to posters.
> I am not knocking posters for many appropriate topics or for presenters
> who don't feel comfortable doing a talk, but I would be reluctant to
> attend meetings where I had no choice.
> I will give you one example of a meeting where the poster session worked
> extremely well:  the OCEANOBS 99 conference in France (1999).  The posters
> were set up for 3 days and all of the breaks were catered in the poster
> hall.  That meant that everyone went to the poster hall to enjoy fabulous
> French goodies in the morning, in the mid-afternoon, and after the
> plenaries (all excellent) were over for the day.  Authors naturally hung
> out at their booths at all of those times, and people were always around
> to talk to.
> If ICRS is going this route, I would suggest the French model, especially
> with the enticements of high-class refreshments (or any refreshments, for
> that matter).  It promoted congregation at the posters, made for a
> pleasant environment and more relaxed discussions with an international
> scientific community.  I knew few people there, because I had not
> previously been a part of the remote sensing field, but I had one of the
> most satisfying experiences that I have ever had at a meeting, although
> Bali was very close.
> Respectfully yours,
> Maggie Toscano

**** <>< ******* <>< ******* <>< ******* <>< *******
Alan E. Strong
Phys Scientist/Oceanographer
  NOAA Science Center -- RM 711W
  5200 Auth Road
  Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304
        Alan.E.Strong at
             301-763-8102 x170
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