The “Biconcavoposeidon” poster is published

September 8, 2017

If you don’t get to give a talk at a meeting, you get bumped down to a poster. That’s what’s happened to Matt, Darren and me at this year’s SVPCA, which is coming up next week. My poster is about a weird specimen that Matt and I have been informally calling “Biconcavoposeidon” (which I remind you is not a formal taxonomic name).

Here it is, for those of you who won’t be at the meeting (or who just want a preview):

But wait — there’s more. The poster is now also formally published (Taylor and Wedel 2017) as part of the PeerJ preprint containing the conference abstract. It has a DOI and everything. I’m happy enough about it that I’m now citing it in my CV.

Do scientific posters usually get published? Well, no. But why not? I can’t offhand think of a single example of a published poster, though there must be some out there. They are, after all, legitimate research artifacts, and typically contain more information than published abstracts. So I’m happy to violate that norm.

Folks: it’s 2017. Publish your posters.

References

  • Taylor, Michael P., and Mathew J. Wedel. 2017. A unique Morrison-Formation sauropod specimen with biconcave dorsal vertebrae. p. 78 in: Abstract Volume: The 65th Symposium on Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy & The 26th Symposium on Palaeontological Preparation and Conservation. University of Birmingham: 12th–15th September 2017. 79 pp. PeerJ preprint 3144v2. doi:10.7287/peerj.preprints.3144v2/supp-1
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9 Responses to “The “Biconcavoposeidon” poster is published”


  1. Excellent poster Mike! Looking forward to seeing it at the meeting. And great choice to publish it – PeerJ Preprints certainly encourage publication of posters as part of their conference proceedings.

    For readers who will not be attending SVPCA this year, I just wanted to give a little context on how decisions were made on whether abstract submissions received their preferred presentation format or not. The full details of the process as provided with the decision letter are copied at the end of this post. But in summary, all abstracts were blind-reviewed and scored by a five members of a review committee, and decisions on talk slots were based solely on a ranking of mean scores. We accommodated as many talks as possible within the programme, and >85% of people received their first choice presentation format. Of course, we recognise that some people will be disappointed not to have received a talk slot.

    Just one small note on the first sentence of your post. It could be read as implying that a poster is a lesser presentation than a talk. In fact, of course, posters and talks are equally valid forms of conference presentations. Many colleagues – including a considerable number of established and senior researchers – consider a poster to be a more effective form of conference communication, because it offers the potential of several solid hours of discussion with and feedback from peers on the content. By contrast, it is quite normal to give a conference talk and receive absolutely no feedback afterwards. My point is, many people actively choose to present a poster – it is not merely something you do if a talk is not possible.

    I look forward to catching up with you in person this week.

    All the best

    Richard Butler (chair of the 2017 SVPCA host committee)

    Abstract review process for the 2017 SPPC and SVPCA meetings (as circulated via email in August)

    >90 abstracts were submitted across five categories: SPPC talks, SVPCA talks, symposium talks, lightning talks and posters. We established an abstract review committee that included 10 Birmingham vertebrate palaeontologists, ranging in experience from established academics to PhD students, and with taxonomic expertise ranging from vertebrate origins to mammals. This committee was split into two subcommittees of five members each, and half of the abstracts were assigned to each subcommittee. Assignment of abstracts was based broadly on taxonomic expertise in most cases. All abstracts were reviewed blind (i.e. author names and affiliations were removed before distribution to the review committee) and committee members conducted their reviews completely independently.

    Abstracts were given a score between 1 to 5 based on an assessment of scientific quality, significance, originality and interest, and committee members looked for evidence of clear research goals or questions, appropriate detail of data and analyses, and clear conclusions. For each abstract we calculated a mean score based on five independent reviews, and abstracts were then ranked solely on the basis of these scores. We also examined median scores, although these did not show any substantial difference from means.

    For SPPC talks, symposium talks, lightning talks and posters we had space to accommodate all submissions. These abstracts were therefore accepted as long as they were considered scientifically acceptable and appropriate for the meeting.

    For SVPCA talks, our programme allows space for 43 presentations, lower than the 54 submitted abstracts for which an SVPCA talk was preferred. The 11 lowest ranking abstracts have therefore been offered a presentation instead within the dedicated poster session. Overall, we have been able to offer >85% of submitted abstracts their preferred presentation format, and no abstracts have been rejected. Success rates for those who wished to give an SVPCA talk are approximately 80%, and the success rate is highly similar across different subsets of abstracts (e.g. students versus non-students, women versus men). We are therefore happy that the blind-review process as implemented was fair and unbiased.


  2. Posters in ecology are published on occasion e.g. https://f1000research.com/collections/SCB

  3. Mike Taylor Says:

    Thanks for your kind comments, Richard. I’ll admit I’m pretty pleased with how this poster turned out, and also with the one that Matt lead-authored.

    I hope I didn’t give the impression that I thought our talk proposals had been shot down deliberately! No-one questions the fairness of the review process. I think we were just really unlucky. As you say, 85% of talk proposals were accepted, which means only 15 were not: for three of us all to fall into that 15% is a 0.3% chance, something that should only happen once every 300 meetings if I did my sums right. I know that sometimes things just don’t fall the way you want them to.

    As Matt wrote to me when we both got our talk rejections: “back in Edinburgh I said that if SVPCA had to start kicking people out of talk slots, they should axe the established folks first and give grad students a chance. Now’s my opportunity to stand by my word.” That’s a good call.

    (I have to disagree with your implication that posters are equally desirable as talks, though. No-one ever got bumped down from a poster to a talk when they applied to present a poster.)

    Anyway: the important part is that I am really looking forward to the meeting, and to seeing you and others once more. I hope that in among all the responsibilities of organising, you get to witness some science and to enjoy yourself from time to time!


  4. Thanks for the clarifications Mike. I’m sort of looking forward to the meeting as well – whether I’ll enjoy it is another thing! I’ll be happy if we survive without any major disasters.

    Just to pick up on a couple of points. First, we didn’t positively discriminate in favour of PhD students when assessing abstracts. But, as I suspected would be the case, they did just as well as established people in the blind review system. In fact, the top five rated abstracts were from PhD students, and those are indeed probably the five talks that I am most looking forward to seeing.

    With regard to posters, I didn’t mean to say that posters were equally desirable, but that they are equally valid as a form of conference presentation. I know that many people prefer to give a talk, and the fact that talk slots are more limited at many meetings gives them a veneer of prestige that posters lack. However, it is important in my opinion to recognise that posters can actually be a more effective form of communication than a talk, and that many people – including established researchers – actively choose to present a poster rather than a talk (i.e. they don’t do a poster just because they can’t get, or don’t think they will get, a talk).

    This is at the fore of my thoughts at the moment because I recently returned from SVP, where, not for the first time, I was extremely disappointed to see a senior and established colleague treating the poster session with something approaching disdain. Personally, I think it reflected extremely badly on that individual, but I’m concerned about the message that it sends to those students and ECRs who have spent many, many hours polishing highly professional and effective poster presentations. I doubt that we’ll see anything like that at SVPCA, but I would like to see SVPCA try to increase the prominence of the poster session in future years – we’ve tried to do that through running it unopposed and through having a pretty good prize for the best student poster.

    Anyway, better get back to organisation!

  5. Andrew Stuck Says:

    As an outsider, it’s always seemed odd to me that conferences are the weird places where info can be “out there” and acknowledged, and yet not be scientifically citable. Especially in those instances when no further work seems to get done on the subject.


  6. […] what I’d thought was a pretty good poster with real visitors. I quickly realised that the “Biconcavoposeidon” poster was missing two important […]


  7. […] deliberately left a lot of things out of the poster I presented at SVPCA: an abstract (who needs repetition?), institutional logos (who cares?), references (no-one’s […]


  8. […] were next. We both had the ambition of cutting the text down to just figure captions. Mike nailed that goal, but my poster ended up being slightly more narrative. I’m cool with that – it’s […]

  9. Mike Taylor Says:

    Belatedly, in response to Richard …

    We didn’t positively discriminate in favour of PhD students when assessing abstracts. But, as I suspected would be the case, they did just as well as established people in the blind review system.

    Sorry if I gave the impression that I thought that’s what you’d done! No, the issue here is that Matt and I were glad to know the process didn’t discriminate against students (or indeed against anyone).


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