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I believe that including references is important, especially for a chemistry conference poster. However, I have more than two dozens of citations so it is way too lengthy.

Should I still include the reference section or should I simply explain when asked?

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Biologist here.

I tend to be more careful to cite methodology on a poster rather than things that belong in an introduction or discussion section, and especially anything derived directly from a particular paper, such as an equation that is on the poster.

Sometimes there is a particular key reference - either a review or highly relevant original paper - to cite for background. Otherwise, if you find yourself citing a lot of things you probably have too much text on the poster.

(to be clear: if it needs to be cited, it should be cited; it just turns out that the type of content that needs to be cited should be at a minimum on a poster)

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    "it just turns out that the type of content that needs to be cited should be at a minimum on a poster" - yes, exactly. – kcrisman Nov 6 '19 at 12:37
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Of course you should have references. (Unless chemistry is really different from other disciplines.) But it is probably acceptable to make it a pretty short section, and perhaps refer to another document if asked for more details.

In particular, are there 2-3 most important references you could cite in "short format" with "et al." to make them short enough to not distract? That might be a good middle ground. Alternately, you could do inline citations for the most important ones, with or without footnotes.


(But as always, different disciplines have different standards, so you might want to double check with a few other chemists with a lot of experience presenting posters in the event none of them post an answer here.)

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  • I'm not in chemistry, but if I saw 5 citations on a poster that would seem too much – Azor Ahai Nov 6 '19 at 2:36
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CS/AI: I absolutely don’t cite anything beyond the bare minimum and place citations in tiny font at the bottom. The point of the poster is to get people to read your paper. They need to get the TL;DR version of it on the way to get tea and cookies, and your poster needs to be more interesting than the robocup tournament. Put the main message in a few sentences, highlight the most interesting things in bold colors and large fonts (think accident lawyer billboards). If anyone asks you about references, give them a copy of the paper (print out a few copies to hand out on the spot).

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    Just as a commentary on the heterogeneity of academia, this wouldn't work in other fields, as posters are usually done on new or in-progress findings well before a paper is published. – Azor Ahai Nov 6 '19 at 4:44

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