Can you present the same research poster at multiple conferences?
You’ve spent weeks perfecting a research poster. It contains the most prominent aspects of your research and is beautifully designed. It might therefore feel like a waste to use this poster for only one conference and you might find yourself starting to think of ways to reuse it for other academic events.
But how wise or effective is it to recycle your research posters? Would it help or harm your academic progress and career? This article offers some important factors to consider as you decide where to present your poster.
Why it doesn’t look good to present the same poster at multiple conferences
Let’s start by thinking about why it is not a good idea to repeatedly present the same content at various events.
People often do this to fill out their CVs and portfolios, believing that it would look good to say that they have presented at several conferences. However, if it is later revealed that you simply presented the same content over and over again, this trick will look deceptive and lazy. By recycling material, you come across as taking the easy way out instead of investing time and effort towards creating novel, relevant content for the conferences you attend.
In the long term, you damage your own reputation as a researcher and risk diluting the impact and efficacy of the research itself. If people begin to know of you as someone who frequently rehashes the same material, they may quickly lose interest in hearing what you have to say.
Check conference guidelines and rules
Some conferences will explicitly state that they will only accept original research. In these cases, it is definitely not advisable to reuse a research poster or paper. Doing so will be considered bad practice and disrespectful to other conference presenters, the organisers and the conference itself.
If you are unsure if a conference will accept material you have presented elsewhere, contact the organisers before submitting your abstract or application to enquire about their regulations. Be honest and transparent – explain that you have a research poster that was accepted at another conference, and ask if they would consider applications if the research being presented is not completely new.
Some may respond to say that it is acceptable to resubmit a poster that you have presented before, while others may request that you make some changes so that you are not resubmitting exactly the same material. Others may outright reject any research that has been presented elsewhere.
Whatever their response might be, it is always better to check ahead than to risk contravening the conference rules and upsetting the organisers. You don’t want to minimise your chances of being accepted or invited back for future conferences.
Understand the common practices in your field
In some conferences and fields of study, it can be acceptable to present the same poster at multiple academic events. There is no hard and fast rule for this, so it would be useful to find out as early as possible what the common practices are in your discipline.
For example, some subject areas may be very niche and small, so it is likely that you will present your material to the same people across different events. In this case, it would probably not be such a good idea to recycle your posters and presentations.
In other larger, more diverse fields, it may be more acceptable to present the same work at multiple conferences where you will be speaking to significantly different audiences and addressing different themes and subjects.
Make amendments where possible
You can circumvent the sticky situation of repeatedly presenting the same research by making some selected changes to your poster. For example, you could focus on a different set of results, data or theme; you could amend how your research is visually presented on the poster; or you could rewrite the title and some of the text to align better with each conference’s theme.
Of course, this will potentially involve more work and cost (e.g. for design and printing) but these efforts can go a long way to presenting separate, distinct components of your research and creating a better fit with the conference topic focus.
Going the extra mile to create unique research posters for different conferences will also help to raise your research profile. You will demonstrate that you are being thoughtful about how to present your research to address particular themes and audiences. You will offer originality, innovativeness and versatility by presenting different or new perspectives, discussions or results with each poster.
Finally, by being honest about the research you are presenting or have presented – and not pretending that this is altogether new content – you will display cooperative academic citizenship and integrity.
Always be honest
Even in the instances where you may be permitted to present the same poster at another conference, it is still always good practice to be honest and transparent about your research process. Openly and clearly declare when and where else you have presented this poster. If there have been any updates in your research since the last time you presented, make sure you highlight this and explain any developments, differences or discrepancies clearly.
In the long term, being honest and upfront about the research that you are presenting will earn you greater respect and credibility than reusing the same research, passing it off as new and falsely boosting your CV.
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