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Studying Presenting incomplete research

  1. Oct 13, 2016 #1
    I am doing a poster next week at an international conference, and it is my very first. The only other time I did a poster was after a undergrad summer program, and it was kind of low-key. Now, the thing is, the project is far from done. Part of the reason for that is that I was working on another project with the same professor, and we focussed on this other project because it was closer to completion and we had to write the paper up and also make a presentation on it. He is supposed to be using this same presentation at this conference.

    Anyway, coming back to the point, a lot of good people are going to come to this session and I feel very vulnerable. I am quite sure that every criticism I will encounter I will answer with "We are still working on that!" or "I haven't yet got to that!". I am told that posters are meant to showcase research that is not quite done but I fear I may come up very short. How do you deal with these kinds of worries? I would not have entered but my professor keeps telling me that the response we will get will be useful to assess what is important when we eventually get to writing the paper on this project, but I feel like I am being used as bait.
     
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  3. Oct 13, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    The easiest way is to preempt this and have a section on the poster describing what you are going to do next.
     
  4. Oct 13, 2016 #3
    I did a few of these in my grad school days. Relax. Most folks understand works in progress. Treat it more like a progress report. My grad adviser had us write progress reports each year for the grants and for an internal organization so we were comfortable doing it at conferences also. I liked to focus on some key points:

    1. What we are doing. (Include anything novel about technique.)
    2. Why it is important or interesting.
    3. What we expect to find.
    4. Implications if we do/do not get the expected results.
    5. Future directions.

    Of course, any preliminary data you may have should be presented, but cover your backside by labeling it preliminary.

    Conferences do not always come at times when groups have recent new and complete results, so a lot of groups present works in progress.

    The alternate approach that I use now is to save a few completed projects for presenting at conferences. But some groups like to get those submitted to journals ASAP, so they are much more likely to have works in progress for the conferences. I am more patient now than I used to be, but an advantage of private funding is that there is less pressure to publish quickly.
     
  5. Oct 13, 2016 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    All research is incomplete- there's always more to be learned. I agree that your presentation is an opportunity to get useful feedback, for example "well, we are still working on it. Do you have any suggestions?".

    Also, questions are not criticisms.

    Edit- let me amend this, because I admit to seeing occasional unprofessional behavior at conferences. FWIW, the grown-ups (faculty, etc.) don't pick on the children (students).
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
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