Communicating Scholarly Research via the Poster Session: The Experience at a National Convention

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As academic associations and their annual conventions have grown in size, the poster session has become a common format for presentation of scholarly work. Little is known, however, about how communication educators perceive poster sessions and their value to career advancement. Poster sessions have been criticized as poorly structured and "second-class citizens" to paper panels. A survey of 129 poster session presenters (49% response rate) from the 1995 Speech Communication Association convention examines motivations for participation and satisfaction with the poster session format. Respondents offered ideas to improve the structure and purpose of the poster session and included practical advice for both planners and presenters. Improvements suggested include avoiding scheduling poster sessions opposite traditional presentations and making poster session papers available in advance through the paper distribution center. Findings suggest that those holding the lowest-ranking positions--students and instructors--were most satisfied with their poster session experience, while assistant professors, who typically face tenure decisions, were least satisfied.