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Suppose I have done a collaborative work, where I do 80% of the work. Hence, I am the first author. Now my collaborator goes to a conference to present a poster of that work. In the poster too, my name is (for the obvious reason) first. But my collaborator is the presenting author. Now if the poster gets a prize, who gets it, the person presenting it or the first author? Technically, who should get it?

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    I flagged it for depending on individual factors. There also seems to be important details missing. For example, I've been to conferences where only posters with a student among the authors are eligible. In that case it would seem to make sense for it to be the student(s) that receive the prize. I'm not sure that there's going to be a "technically correct" answer to this though. – Ian_Fin Dec 22 '16 at 11:12
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    To expand upon Ian_Fin's questions, what is the award for? "Best research" or "best presenter" or "best student poster"? – Richard Erickson Dec 22 '16 at 13:14
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    In the good answers already posted, I miss any reference of who paid registration fees and conference-related expenses. If they were covered by an institution or grant, that's not an issue - provided that the institution is not asking for a share - but if presenter or some other author had had to pay from own pocked, reimbursing them with the price should come first. – Pere Dec 23 '16 at 11:52
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A prize is typically given for both content and presentation of a work, so a typical fair way to handle prize money, whether for poster or paper, is to offer to split it evenly amongst all of the co-authors. Co-authors who feel they have not offered a full share of work might choose to decline their share, but the basic assumption should be an even split. To do otherwise just opens the opportunity for much interpersonal conflict over a generally quite small amount of money.

Remember also that the most significant value of a poster or paper prize is not typically any money that happens to be associated with the prize, but rather the increase in your personal credibility and future prospects that comes from the recognition.

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    @Buzz Personally, I would find it a bit presumptuous to make a plan for splitting a prize that one is unlikely to be awarded. I do agree that faculty co-authors usually don't end up as part of the split, but feel the gracious way for that to happen is to have the students offer and the faculty member decline: some faculty members will feel that they do deserve the money! – jakebeal Dec 22 '16 at 13:11
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    It doesn't have to a long discussion, but in my experience, it can save a big headache afterwards if the poster wins an award unexpectedly, and people end up disagreeing about who should get the money. I think the faculty can facilitate this by opening the discussion, with something like: "You students should decide how to split the prize money if the poster wins an award. I don't want a share. This is for you guys, and I would suggest you divide the money up evenly, but it's up to you to decide, although I will be happy to be part of the discussions." – Buzz Dec 22 '16 at 13:35
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    And I think any professor who wants a share of the cash (unless there are no student of post-doc authors on the poster) is being pretty obnoxious. – Buzz Dec 22 '16 at 13:36
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    @Buzz This site resounds with stories of obnoxious faculty members. For a student of such, I would argue that the peace of mind is probably worth a couple hundred bucks. – jakebeal Dec 22 '16 at 13:46
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    @DanRomik Again, you're giving this way more thought than many program committees do: "Nice poster, folks! Here's a prize for you all! See how our conference attracts cool work!" – jakebeal Dec 22 '16 at 19:01
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If the prize is for the poster, then logically and morally all coauthors of the poster -- anyone who is entitled to list the poster on their CV -- are recipients of the prize and entitled to a share of the prize money. It doesn't matter if you are first author, second author or twenty-seventh author, and it doesn't matter if you presented the poster or not. As I was arguing in this answer to a closely related question, "Best poster award" has a pretty clear meaning in English (or the language of the conference), and I don't see a case for questioning the intent of the conference organizers in using this language, so there really isn't much room for debate on this point as far as I can tell. If they had titled the award "Best presentation award" or "Best poster and presentation award" then we would be having a different discussion, and then the argument "A prize is typically given for both content and presentation of a work" in jakebeal's answer would be relevant. But they didn't, so it isn't.

Now, logic aside, this is also a question of human relations, so whether it is worth making a fuss about some small amount of money that comes with the prize depends on many additional factors having to do with the personalities of the people involved and the power dynamics of the situation. I don't feel I can advise you about this. But from the moral point of view I think the situation is completely unambiguous.

Hope this helps, and congratulations for the prize!

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A poster alone does not get the price it is usually judged together with the poster presentation, thus the presenter has a big influence too. I would assume the presenter will get the price, but depending on your collegaue he might share the monetary value with you (if any). On my poster award the title of the poster and authors were listed too. So if you are intrested to put on you CV you might still be able to do that as long as the authors are listed on the certificate.

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    "judged together with the poster presentation" - that may depend on the field, but in most poster session I have seen, the "poster presentation" meant standing next to the poster for an hour or two and inform anyone who is interested in the topic about the work described on the poster in a one-on-one conversation. This would be really hard to "judge" in such a way that all poster presentations can be compared. – O. R. Mapper Dec 22 '16 at 11:30
  • You are right that seems to be specific to the field. In the sessions and competions I was in, judges prescreenend the posters they were intrested in and then apporached the presenting authors during the session to get a "run down" on the contents of the poster, which is basically a short presentation without slides. Highly unfair obviously, because not everyone will get a chance to talk to the judges. – simlan Dec 22 '16 at 13:03
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    @O.R.Mapper I've been to meeting (and actually judged posters) where the judges are assigned X number of posters and go around and talk to the presenters. The meeting I attend (life science meetings) have poster sessions when presenters are expected to be at their posters. The poster judging criterion include how well the presenter responds to questions and interacts with people. However, part of the problem is the vagueness of this original question. – Richard Erickson Dec 22 '16 at 13:46
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    @O.R.Mapper I have judged posters a few times, and even within my field, there does not seem to be any consistency in how the judging is organized. It's true that it's difficult to make the judging uniform and independent of the accompanying oral presentations. – Buzz Dec 22 '16 at 14:01
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    @O.R.Mapper Except for putting images of the posters online (which generally happens after the meeting is over), I've never seen any of those things happen. People bring their posters to the poster session, and they take them away when they are done. Fields differ tremendously, once again. – Buzz Dec 22 '16 at 14:15
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It will depend on the nature and amount of the prize. But one approach that works well is for the prize to pay for a round of drinks for the group at the next opportunity. Other options include buying cakes for the group or even a box of chocolates if the prize is small. The recognition is more important in many ways.

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First of all, there isn't a firm technical code of how to handle this situation. This is a collaborative piece of work, and I think this is much more a question of social etiquette.

Nonetheless, this depends on a number of factors. Most importantly: What is the prize actually being awarded for? Is it just for the work? For the work and its presentation? Is it for the communication of scientific work, via the structure of the poster and possibly the oral presentation?

Unless it's the last case and only one person made and presented the poster, I would say the most socially tactful way to handle the money would be either:

  1. Use it to go out for drinks or to a nice dinner, with everyone listed on the poster
  2. Split it evenly.

If it were me, I would have a discussion with your co-authors about which option the majority would prefer. If you can't bear to unnecessarily spend time with your colleagues, you could offer the split it evenly and then leave it up to other people to decline if they feel it's appropriate.

Yes, you might be out a few hundred dollars, if your co-authors don't fully deserve a share of the prize. However, you would preserve important resources in your career, namely the relationship with your co-authors. In the future, they may well be your paper/grant reviewers, recommendation letter writers, colleagues, etc. Having navigated a delicate social situation gracefully can impact your career for years to come, much longer than the prize money would have lasted.

Additionally, regardless of what happens with the money, remember that the prestige of the award is still yours and should still be represented on your CV (as it should be on every poster authors' CV).

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  • I had to delete my own comment. This is the best answer , given the missing information. Everything you do must, of course, impact your current situation. Most important would seem to be how it affects your roadmap of where you want to be. Somewhere between being the richest person in the world, and bringing about lasting world peace, lol. – Samantha Wiggens Dec 28 '16 at 19:01
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The relevant question is, why didn't you present the work, if you did 80% of the work, and are thus the first author? Technical/financial barriers for conference participation? In general, the prizes (I am considering moral "rights" here) are awarded to all authors, unless they are very specific. I would argue "best presentation" does not apply to those authors not giving the presentation, but such cases are rare. Similar issue may be with "best student paper award" where I think it is pretty clear that it is awarded to the student, not the supervisor, although it is achievement for a supervisor in its own way as well.

For the actual prize money I would say that in general, it should be split among authors, with exception of student prizes, where I think it would be really inappropriate for supervisor to get any amount of money, since these prizes are not something big anyway.

So if you do not agree with splitting the money evenly, then you should think about who do you put on your paper as a co-author.

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