CV enhancement – the reason junior medics/researchers submit abstracts to conferences

It has been the case for quite some time that a medics (Doctor) CV is greatly enhanced by the addition of published research. Ideally ‘published’ means an article in a high powered peer review journal. But it is not until you have been doing research for a year or two that it really strikes you how hard this actually is. So it is no surprise that people new to research find a good first step is to get there work accepted for presentation at a conference.

This is the type of thing I have been working with a group of junior doctors to achieve. We have submitted abstracts and requested both oral and poster presentations and are currently awaiting a response from the organisers. But what is the difference between these formats and what does it mean to the authors.


A poster is a bulletin board, usually A0, providing an opportunity to disseminate an idea or findings from audit/research for discuss it with your peers. It may be an overview of a technical topic, a problem or question, a product or a case study.

A typical poster is not just a shortened version of a journal paper; posters are less formal, more interactive, and may provoke argument. They tend to be shown throughout the duration of a conference and although the authors are not expected to be present to answer questions all the time there is usually an alloted time for them to answer questions.


An oral presentation is a step up from a poster on the ‘CV’ stakes. The time span you have to talk for varies from conference to conference. It is a chance to tell your story to a group of interested individuals in a more dynamic way than a poster, and to clearly explained the research in more detail and to expounded its virtues (and vices).

The thing to remember is listeners have one chance to hear your talk and can’t “re-read” when they get confused. There are two well-know ways to communicate your points effectively. The first is to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). Focus on getting one to three key points across. But a good rule of thumb is one key point for every 5 mins of presentation time. Second, repeat key insights: tell them what you’re going to tell them (Forecast), tell them, and tell them what you told them (Summary).


On a personal development front for a junior doctors, an oral presentation is classed as being a larger ‘CV’ tick then a poster. However both entail significant amounts of work. The preparation of posters is not something to be taken lightly. The colours, fonts, pictures, grammar, spelling are all important in just getting the poster read and all need to be considered and argued to be as important as the actual content. These same factors are relevant to a oral presentation. We have all sat through a meeting where someone has come PowerPoint mad. The other thing that will drive people up the wall at a conference is not sticking to time. Therefore practice practice practice what you are going to say and keep to time. If I achieve nothing else with my group of Dr’s they will run to time when giving a presentation even if they can’t do it when running a clinic 🙂