What is it like to present your research in a pub?

PubhD is a public speaking event set in the relaxed, informal environment of the pub. Researchers are invited to explain their work to a non-specialist audience in just ten minutes. In Brighton, PubhD takes place on the first Wednesday of every month in the cosy function room of The Eagle in the North Laine. These are really welcoming events and offer a great opportunity to practise presenting, or simply listen and learn. They’re free to attend although you’re asked to chip in to help buy a drink for the speakers.

The organiser of PubhD Brighton, Aimee Eckert, said, ‘Although PubhD Brighton was set up by a Sussex researcher, we are an event that is open to all researchers, from the University of Brighton or elsewhere. All subjects and stages of doctorates, post-docs and former academics are welcome! Arts, social sciences & humanities subjects are especially needed. We’re also currently looking for some help in promoting and running the series, so if any Brighton students would like to volunteer, please get in touch at: pubhd.brighton@gmail.com.’

If you’d like to know more, find out what four Brighton doctoral students thought about their experience of speaking at PubhD.

Jennifer Holland, PhD student, School of Sport and Service Management

I first heard about PubhD from another student, and it sounded like a great way to meet people and talk about everyone’s research.  It seems like an easy thing to do, doesn’t it? Have a pint or glass of wine and chat about your PhD, but it’s actually rather tricky to put all those years of work into a normal pub conversation!  I found it a great opportunity to practise talking about my research through giving an overview of the project and what I’ve found so far. I did find it really hard not to use theoretical models. How do you explain something that takes up a whole chapter of your thesis but in just a few sentences? But it was a really open and fun environment and I would easily do it again! I loved hearing about other PhDs, especially in areas that I have no knowledge of like microbiology. It was really interesting and made me feel part of a wider community of PhD students and proud to be at the University of Brighton.

My tip – Bring in pictures or materials to help you if you think it would be useful. I’m using image elicitation and wish I had brought in some images to help explain the process and my findings in a more interactive and visual way.

Lucie Fremlova, PhD student, School of Applied Social Science

As a 3rd year PhD student, I have been looking for opportunities to present my PhD to different audiences in different formats as it helps to think differently about my PhD. Yes, arguably, every PhD is complex. Yet I feel that when it comes to people’s identities from a social scientist’s perspective, explaining intersectionality and queer theoretical concepts at a ‘pub level’ can be quite challenging. So when I saw the announcement that the PubhD Brighton team were still missing one presenter, I was up for the challenge.

I had just under 48 hours to prepare my 10 minutes on the lived experiences of Romani LGBTIQ people. I rehearsed three times, with the most successful rehearsal taking place in the bathroom. It helped me to chunk the masses of information and theory down to two main points: imagining intersectional identities as crossroads where multiple ‘roads’ such as sexuality, ethnicity/race, sex, gender identity, class, religion meet (not always in the middle!); and ‘queer(y)(ing), or destabilising Romani identities, which have often been essentialised. Doing so helps show the fluidity of sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity/race etc. Ultimately, every person’s identities are flexible intersections always in the process of becoming.

Patricia Soares, PhD student, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

I first heard about PubhD through some friends. The idea caught my attention, and I attended a couple of PubhD events before volunteering.

I didn’t spend a long time preparing my presentation, as I probably should have. My main preparation was figuring out the ‘complicated’ parts of my research and how I could explain them more easily, especially the genetic part. I tried to find daily examples that could serve as a metaphor for the most complex parts, cartoons that I could use, things that would catch someone’s attention — although I may not have been as successful as I wished!

Nevertheless, the evening was great. I had more questions than in an actual conference, and it was rewarding to hear so many people questioning and offering ideas! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that a few months later I volunteered as a speaker for PubhD Lisbon.

I would recommend anyone to give it a try! Part of our job as a scientist is to communicate our research and this is a great way to train, improve and learn how to be more efficient!

Bruno de Oliveira, PhD student, School of Applied Social Science

My experience on presenting at PubhD impacted positively on my PhD overall. It allowed me to present my research in a concise manner to academics and non-academics.

For me in terms of reflective practice, presenting my research to a non-academic audience was probably the most rewarding aspect of it because it shows how academia needs to integrate more with the local community (and you also get a free drink).


To find out more about PubhD Brighton, visit their website, find them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

And if you do decide to participate, please let us know then we can spread the word! We hope to see some of you at future events.