A total of 34 surveys from conference participants were returned, for a response rate of 39%. All respondents were academics attending two research & enterprise developmental conferences in successive years. The conferences were multi-disciplinary although the professional and academic level of attendee was representative of that to be seen at specific healthcare conferences. The majority of respondents were female (67%). Respondents were aged predominantly below 49 years (72%). Approximately half of the respondents had previously participated in some form of formal training or workshop on how to develop an academic poster presentation.
Respondent attitudes and opinions regarding academic posters are summarised in Table . Overall 62% of participants agreed, or strongly agreed, with the statement that posters are a good medium for knowledge transfer in the academic environment. Half of the participants believed that posters are a valid format of academic publication, however only 32% agreed that the medium permits the author to convey a suitable depth of subject information to the viewer. Participants were divided on their attitude on whether posters allow the author to present considered academic debate on the topic, with 41% agreeing with the statement and 53% disagreeing.
Responses to survey (attitudes and opinions)
The majority of participants believed that the visual aspects of an academic posters was more appealing to viewers that the text and subject content. Almost all of the participants (94%) believed that the imagery and composition of the poster (e.g. colours, figures) was the main factor in catching the viewer's attention. However, over half of respondents did not believe that the author's artistic ability disguised the scholarly content offered in the poster (53%).
Participants agreed that the information provided by posters needed to be supplemented by some form of oral presentation, or author presence, to further communicate the content. Approximately two-thirds of participants believed that conference delegates discussed poster presentations during conferences, with 76% believing that authors should be present with their poster. Participants were divided in their belief as to whether posters effectively communicated a lasting message to the viewer, with 47% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement, whilst 44% were uncommitted. A similar trend was also observed when identifying the long term impact of knowledge translation post conference.
Participants were also asked about their own experiences with constructing and presenting their poster at the conferences, with the majority of participants' answers endorsing their previous responses on the various topics (Table ). Half of the participants believed that their poster was an effective medium for knowledge transfer, with 59% judging that it sufficiently attracted the attention of conference delegates. Almost half of the respondents (47%) acknowledged some formal training in designing academic posters, and the majority (70%) found it easy to construct a poster with balanced text and graphical content. Despite 59% of participants stating that knowledge transfer is not achieved when posters are 'stand alone', half of the respondents believed that their poster would have worked as a stand-alone presentation at the recent conference.
Responses to survey (experiences with poster presentations)
Several open-ended questions elicited qualitative responses from participants. A total of 88% of participants recalled a specific poster from the event that they attended.
"They (posters) are a very useful way to include more (academic content) into a conference. New researchers especially can bring their work to a wider audience prior to the paper presentations which they will do later on in their academic careers."
Over two-thirds of participants (73%) remembered the imagery of the poster more clearly, rather than academic content.
"Posters appeal to me due to their visual component, but there are too many factors, both technical and behavioural, that restrict their value. They make a very efficient use of our time at external events as an ice-breaker for beginning discussions and establishing networks with colleagues."
Although 73% of respondents discussed the poster with the author, less than a third (30%) followed up on their discussion after the event. From an author's perspective:
"The poster medium is an excellent discipline for crystallizing your views on a topic. However unless you get a chance to discuss the poster with other delegates it can feel like you are having a discourse with yourself."