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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

What impact do posters have on academic knowledge transfer? A pilot survey on author attitudes and experiences

Nicholas Rowe1* and Dragan Ilic2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health & Social Care, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK

2 Monash Institute of Health Services Research, School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2009, 9:71  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-71

Published: 8 December 2009



Research knowledge is commonly facilitated at conferences via oral presentations, poster presentations and workshops. Current literature exploring the efficacy of academic posters is however limited. The purpose of this initial study was to explore the perceptions of academic poster presentation, together with its benefits and limitations as an effective mechanism for academic knowledge transfer and contribute to the available academic data.


A survey was distributed to 88 delegates who presented academic posters at two Releasing Research and Enterprise Potential conferences in June 2007 and June 2008 at Bournemouth University. This survey addressed attitude and opinion items, together with their general experiences of poster presentations. Descriptive statistics were performed on the responses.


A 39% return was achieved with the majority of respondents believing that posters are a good medium for transferring knowledge and a valid form of academic publication. Visual appeal was cited as more influential than subject content, with 94% agreeing that poster imagery is most likely to draw viewer's attention. Respondents also believed that posters must be accompanied by their author in order to effectively communicate the academic content.


This pilot study is the first to explore perceptions of the academic poster as a medium for knowledge transfer. Given that academic posters rely heavily on visual appeal and direct author interaction, the medium requires greater flexibility in their design to promote effective knowledge transfer. This paper introduces the concept of the IT-based 'MediaPoster' so as to address the issues raised within published literature and subsequently enhance knowledge-transfer within the field of academic medicine.