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What are the benefits of poster awards? Is being awarded at a conference really useful for one's career (e.g. when applying for a PhD or a job) or is it just scene? In other words: Can I say that having such award on my resumé is better than just nothing?

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    Surely it is better than nothing. How much a poster award will help you is a bit dubios, but certainly any award at a non-scammy conference cannot be bad for you. – xLeitix Dec 27 '14 at 9:58
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    In terms of it being on your CV, yes it can help. For positions that get lots of applications, even awards that don't mean much to you can help your application stick out to search committees. (The extent to which it helps can vary greatly, depending on both the position and the particular award.) – Kimball Dec 27 '14 at 11:59
  • You mean apart from the cash prize? – Cape Code Dec 29 '14 at 15:15
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In my field the thinking is

  • It draws attention to posters from conference participators.

  • It provides encouragements to individuals (students) to make an extra effort

  • It encourages discussion about "good poster design"

The selection criteria is always focusing on good communication of good science, never one or the other. Since such awards are given only to students and there ids usually also a similar student presentation award both selected by a set of valued senior scientists, the award should be and is seen as a merit.

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Peter Jansson's answer provides a good description of the general benefits of poster awards mostly from the perspective of the conference organizer. My answer focuses on your latter questions.

A poster awards is definitely a positive signal of your quality as a researcher. If it was from a major conference (and perhaps even if it is not), it might do quite a bit to distinguish you from other prospective students in a PhD program applicant pool. Although its value while applying for non-academic jobs is more dubious, it can only there as well.

It is clearly better than nothing and you should put it on your resumé or CV.

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