I’m not sure if I’ve discussed this before but there’s a huge difference in culture between the two research groups I’m involved with. ILAQH (physics) meets once every four to six months at the moment and BRAG (statistics) meets fortnightly. At the fortnightly meetings we spend a few minutes having a quick check-in around the room where we discuss what we’ve been up to for the last two weeks (any papers published, talks given, new research plans) and then someone will give a talk on a topic that is within a semester-long theme. The theme last semester was visualisation, now we’re moving on to the analysis of big data.

ILAQH, by contrast, meets at a frequency that doesn’t really facilitate a catch-up. Instead, any big developments in the big projects are discussed and visitors are welcomed and/or farewelled appropriately. Both meetings serve different purposes in different ways.

One of the biggest benefits of the BRAG fortnightly meetings is that PhD students get a lot of practice giving talks. You’re almost expected to give a talk once a semester, and students are encouraged to give practice talks for the milestones of their PhD candidature (confirmation at 12 months, final seminar when completed). Given that it’s typically two and a half years between confirmation and the final seminar, being expected to give a talk every few months means that you get practice at talking and that the practice is somewhat regular. This will be especially important for ILAQH students as an overwhelming majority of our students are not native English speakers. Getting regular practice at academic speaking will help when it comes to final seminars.

I’ve spoken to Lidia Morawska (Director of ILAQH) about setting up such a system and she thinks it’s a good idea. Now I’ve just got to check that the rest of the group sees it as valuable and then put the legwork in to get it off the ground (organise a time, book a room, etc.).


2 thoughts on “Talks

  1. kellyyyllek

    Great suggestion! I give regular-ish talks within our lab group as well as here and there for other various seminar series for immunology or students within our building. It’s good to practice!

    1. Sam Clifford Post author

      Our group has a bit of trouble making it to regular talk series. The talks for the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (of which we’re a member) are held at Kelvin Grove and while there’s a free bus out there it still requires more planning than just walking down the hall.

      How many times have you presented during your PhD?

      We also have a 3 minute thesis competition in our faculty. I only got interested in it when I was already on my way to submitting my thesis so didn’t end up entering. I am encouraging others to enter.


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