Take My Figure Off of Your Poster…Or Else.

Dear Dora: take my figure off of your posterDear Dora,

A labmate is attending a conference and I just found out that they’ve included one of my main figures in their poster, without my permission. There is a long history between us, which is why they didn’t ask and our PI is not doing anything to resolve the situation.  Can I make them remove my figure from the poster?

-Anonymous, grad student


Dear Anonymous Graduate Student,

Are you acknowledged on the poster? If someone is using your figure on their poster, they must include you as an author or in the acknowledgements. If this is not the case, you must talk to your PI about it. It is a very serious offense to include someone else’s work on a poster or publication without recognition.

If you are acknowledged, but are offended that they did not ask you, then it is a tougher situation. While you may have generated the figure, the data belongs to your PI because he/she funded you so it is up to them whether they want to include your figure in the poster. On a more positive note, being included on someone else’s poster increases your visibility, and provides material for your CV. If you are not one of the authors, you can at least ask that you be acknowledged right under the figure, so interested viewers will know whom to contact in case they have questions.


Dora Farkas, Ph.D. is the author “The Smart Way to Your Ph.D.:200 Secrets from 100 Graduates,” and the founder of PhDNet, an online community for graduate students and PhDs. You will find links to her book, monthly newsletters, and discussion board on her site. Send your questions to [email protected] and keep an eye out for them in an upcoming issue!


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3 comments so far. Join The Discussion

  1. Karen

    wrote on June 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    When I was a graduate student, a postdoc started working on a project very closely related to mine. After he returned from a conference I looked at his poster and noticed that three of the figures were mine, but my name was nowhere to be found! My PI basically told me to deal with it because the poster was well received at the conference.

  2. FLOSciences

    wrote on June 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I'm curious what "There is a long history between us…" means. That could change the situation a lot. That is, "I've used this person's figures without attribution for a while BUT…" Probably not the case, but kind of a weird statement.

  3. Repetitive Strain Injury: The Hidden Lab Hazard

    wrote on June 15, 2011 at 6:02 am

    […] Take My Figure Off Your Poster…Or Else. […]

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