Conference posters: For lonely people to pretend to read at tea breaks?

I am at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies Research Conference today (March 16th 2015) and tomorrow. I submitted my first academic poster to the conference and here it is, at the bottom, looking cute:



Here are a few more nuggets to whet your appetite:


One of my aims, the other aim may get itself a future poster if it is good.


One of my green blobs


Classic Mills!


Can you name all the Prime Ministers?


Introducing the 5 principles of the life-course

You can download the full PDF here.

I have never really understood the purpose of academic posters.  I kind of always cynically thought they are there as a useful thing for lonely conference delegates to pretend to read at tea and lunch breaks.  Is that true? Or is it just me that does that? I thought of lonely people when I designed it, so put a lot of detail into it so they could linger for a long time! They can use it as a conversation starter – naming all the Prime Ministers on the timeline for example.

So after the day at the conference, how do I feel? Well, I think the process of producing the poster was actually really useful. It is really hard to distil your topic down onto one page so that helped with my thinking.

However, I spent a huge amount of time on it. Perhaps too much given that I seem incapable of speaking to anyone about it so am currently thinking if it was worth the effort. I have not spoken to anyone about it partly because there is actually no room to stand by it, so no one knows it is mine. I am just hoping someone gets the vibe from the weirdo (me) standing behind them that I would be interested in hearing what they think.

So at the end of day 1, I still do not see the benefits of posters beyond making you think about the focus of your project and presenting your work in a visual pleasing way. I just feel socially awkward and stressed that I put all that work in and am not making a big enough effort to speak to people about it and get feedback on it.

Right, tomorrow is a new day. So I have produced some photocopies now. Perhaps that will help people to engage with it.

We shall see!

  1. Congratulations on your poster!

    I’ve downloaded the pdf and will share it with one of my fellow students as I know she will find it useful for her research for her dissertation next year. I’m going to borrow the Elder et al book tomorrow, as it relates to one of my essays this semester. Your poster has therefore contributed to learning and knowledge for at least two people this very day!

    I take your point about positioning, but your poster has greater visual strength than the one above it which, with all due respect to its author, relies too heavily on text. Yours make better use of graphics to communicate your research. Oh, OK then, it looks cute!

    Your comment about lonely academics made me feel quite sad. I certainly hope you don’t fall into that category at any time, let alone at conferences.

    I Challenge Annika (see what I did there!) to engage with at least three people about her research poster tomorrow, and if they are lonely academics, they might be very grateful as well as academically stimulated!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ah ha! I accept your challenge! I will target the lonely and lost. All our posters are quite text heavy actually. I wanted to do something more minimalist, but oddly, the more minimal your poster, the longer and harder it is to design. I’d love to do an abstract art type one. Thanks for sharing it. Also, the Elder books are very interesting. The Handbook of the Lifecourse is a good place to start, but also ‘The craft of life course research’ if you can find it.


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