I have submitted a paper to a conference which defined several submission categories: papers, posters, etc. I submitted my abstract in the paper category, but was asked to present a poster instead.

I would do it if it was practical in my situation. But the conference is in another country, and the travel expenses are somewhat consequent. I'm not sure my research lab would accept to cover the expenses, because we're already on a tight budget. Even so, I don't want to be stuck later on if my paper gets accepted somewhere else and I can't go there because I already spent too much of the lab's money on this poster. I'm not even certain I could present the exact same research in another setting without it being perceived as a duplicate.

I hence want to decline the offer (hoping this isn't a mistake!). Do the arguments I gave above sound reasonable, from the point of view of a conference committee? Is there something I could add or remove to make this better?

  • 7
    Could it be that they are accepting your submission as a paper but setting the presentation format as a poster rather than an oral presentation? if that's the case then I think it would be unwise to withdraw the paper. Submissions that are accepted as papers are valuable regardless of the presentation format. Of course a poster could result in less exposure, but in terms of the value of the publication I would say it is the same. Check the previous editions of the conference to see if papers that are presented as posters are still included in the proceedings as regular papers. – Mohamed Khamis Jun 21 '19 at 22:39
  • @MohamedKhamis Thank you for this precision, I didn't think about it. Unfortunately, it turns out that posters are not included in the proceedings. – kfoo Jun 21 '19 at 23:05
  • @kfoo Do you mean the actual posters are not included, or the papers about the topic presented in the poster? – Vladimir F Jun 22 '19 at 8:56
  • 2
    @VladimirF Both in fact. Basically, there is no trace left of the people who presented a poster except a name and a title in the schedule. – kfoo Jun 22 '19 at 9:26
  • Before you go any further, you should check with your group whether money would be available. Make your decision based on the facts, not on your suppositions as a junior member of the group. – David Richerby Jun 22 '19 at 14:03

I don't think you actually need a reason to decline. Saving the work for submission elsewhere is perfectly reasonable in any case. All you need to reply is "No, thank you".

Posters are good for preliminary work and for students wanting some exposure and an opportunity to meet other researchers, of course.

But the work is yours and you don't need to explain why you prefer to withhold it at this time.


[Edit based on comments] This answer was based on the assumption that there is a paper publication associated with the poster. OP mentioned that there isn't in their case, but I leave the answer as it is since it might apply to other readers' case.

For many conferences in my field, being offered to present a poster instead of an oral presentation is not a sign of low quality, it's an editorial choice: the poster setting is simply considered more relevant for the work.

So before refusing, make sure that in this conference a poster is really regarded as less valuable. Even if it's the case, a poster in a good conference is often worth more than a presentation in another conference. Usually the fact that it's been accepted as poster is not visible when the paper is cited. Overall I would consider refusing a quite risky move: you know what you lose but you don't know if you're going to get anything better.

  • If there is paper. The OP added a comment (after your answer) that posters are not incuded proceedings. There can still be a misunderstanding and perhaps the papers from poster presentations are, who knows. – Vladimir F Jun 22 '19 at 8:57
  • @VladimirF Thanks for telling me, I edited my answer to clarify – Erwan Jun 22 '19 at 11:06

As @Erwan mentions, the value of the paper is often not affected by the format (poster or talk). This varies with each conference, so check that yourself.

This being said, I'd like to comment on the choice of poster and talk format. A talk seems more "glamorous", but has a lot of disadvantages. Unless the conference is single-track, a lot of people will miss your talk, because they'll be in a different room. Usually, everything will be slightly delayed, and you will only have time to take 2-3 questions.

On the other hand, a poster will usually be up for longer, and you can adjust how much you go into detail depending on who you're talking to. They will also have more time to think about things and ask you questions. Overall, you're more likely to get better feedback and ideas at a poster.

In short, a talk is often better if you want to get the word out, but I would actually prefer a poster if you want to discuss things with people and get input.

  • The OP mentions in the comments that posters are not included in the proceedings. In that case I must conclude that the value of the paper is affected as much as it gets (provided it is about the paper and not about the actual poster). – Vladimir F Jun 22 '19 at 8:54
  • Ah, I didn't catch that. In that case, indeed, posters only have the value of getting feedback (which is actually very valuable). It also means that there would be no issues submitting the same work elsewhere, since it has not been published in any form previously. But the OPs budget considerations remain, and that is something the OP should openly discuss with their PI. – Steve Heim Jun 22 '19 at 9:28
  • While what you wrote is true in theory, in practice, 1) with multiple-track conferences, you can be assured that specialists with the most keen interest in that particular sub-field will be in attendance for your talk so the concern in the second para is not that important and 2) while a poster is up for longer, there are usually lots and lots of them- a veritable "forest of trees". Easy to get overlooked. And a lot of attendees (including me) don't bother as much with the poster exhibits as they do with the main paper presentations (apropos of the 3rd para). Posters generally play 2nd fiddle. – Deepak Jun 22 '19 at 12:55
  • I guess (in practice) it depends a lot on the venue, community, and just plain luck. I've had posters that were very well visited, at both huge conferences and small, single-track conferences. Then again, similar to your experience, I've had posters that were definitely not given much regard. And I can say pretty much the same thing for talks. My main point is not to completely disregard the value of a poster so quickly. – Steve Heim Jun 22 '19 at 13:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.