As the fall conference season approaches, consider maximizing the impact of your talk or poster by posting it as a preprint!
While you can also archive your slides or the image of your poster on Zenodo, Figshare, or another repository (a great way to increase your visibility and get a DOI), there are several benefits to writing up your work in a narrative article:
- Create a more complete record. By adding a complete methods section and context in the form of an introduction, you can give other researchers tools to better understand your work.
- Gain more visibility and feedback from colleagues. Unlike posters listed on many of the repositories above, preprints are well-integrated into infrastructure for discovering and commenting. For example, preprints appear on Google Scholar, Europe PMC, and if you’re an NIH-funded author, PMC. People in your field may already be signed up for email alerts from these databases or from bioRxiv itself. Furthermore, bioRxiv preprints get automatically added to your ORCiD record, via Crossref.
- Make it easy for others to cite you. While anything on the web can be cited, the fact that preprints are publicly available in their entirety, permanently archived, and included in the databases listed above means that your colleagues will face fewer obstacles to citing them.
- Cite your own preprint in grant applications and reports. Many funders explicitly mention preprints, though NIH allows all interim products to be cited this way
- Improve your elevator pitch. Writing sharpens your thinking, and starting to think about the narrative will give you an edge as you prepare your poster or talk.
Preprinted posters at ASCB’s Cell Bio 2022
But don’t take it from us. Here are some stories from researchers who had a preprint alongside their poster at Cell Bio 2022, ASCB’s annual meeting.
Yutong X. Xiao, now a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, presented her preprint, “An expandable FLP-ON::TIR1 system for precise spatiotemporal protein degradation in C. elegans,” as a poster at Cell Bio 2022. While she had the preprint first, she also sees the benefit in making the poster out of a preprint.
I feel for me it’s easy to make the poster once I have the preprint since I already organized each section/result (with details of legend and text); a poster is just a simplified way to demonstrate the results. But if you have the poster first, I assume it’s also a helpful way to outline the manuscript.Yutong X. Xiao
Takonobu A. Katoh, an Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology at the University of Tokyo, felt that having his preprint, “Immotile cilia of the mouse node sense a fluid flow–induced mechanical force for left-right symmetry breaking,” available alongside his poster had “many positive effects.”
[Some people] including our competitors, also came to my poster. They looked at my Twitter, and read my preprint, then came to my poster. In that case, we could discuss deep issues. Another type of person, who coincidentally saw my poster and realized ‘This poster is posted bioRxiv, so it might be completed research.’ I could introduce my research to these people. Happily, some people read my preprint after coming to my poster, and sent me e-mails with suggestions, comments, and questions.Takonobu A. Katoh
Takanobu recommends all researchers share preprints effectively using posters and offers three concrete tips for doing so.
First, it is best to print a QR code of the preprint in your poster. Second, use Twitter. In particular, include a movie or picture representing your research, poster number (date and board number), and preprint URL. Finally, I think it is better to introduce major points of your research within 5 min and say, “For details of this research, please see my preprint!”Takonobu A. Katoh
How to develop your poster into a preprint
You probably already have an abstract (submitted to the conference) as well as figures, figure legends, and references that have been included in your poster. This just leaves a few other sections.
For the methods, it’s probably best to write these up while they are still fresh in your mind.
The introduction, results, and discussion are more likely to evolve over time. However, context is important for readers, even if not in the final form. You don’t need to get everything perfect. Consider transcribing a recording of yourself giving a talk about your poster introducing the topic as a starting point.
When you have the consent of your coauthors, it’s time to post. As long as your report is a complete scientific paper, bioRxiv has no length requirements. Other servers may have similar policies.
Let’s face it: many posters are finished and printed just days before the meeting. However, if you already have your data in hand, consider writing up your poster now so you can reference it in your meeting abstract.
Second, as you’re making the poster, add a QR code linking to your preprint on your poster. Chrome has a built-in QR code generator (click the share icon in the address bar), and bioRxiv offers their own tool, too.
Finally, don’t forget to share your preprint and poster on social media and request feedback from your colleagues, old and new.
Did you preprint your poster, whether at ASCB or another meeting? Share the link and your experiences in the comments!