jealously guarding ideas vs the need to present


Hi all,

I was just looking for some advice regarding a presentation I have to give next week. It's only 5 minutes and basically I need to offer an overview of my PhD thesis as it currently stands (which it doesnt since I'm only just coming to the end of my first year). What I have are ideas, good ideas I like to think and its going to be at least 6 months before they are published. However, I've just prepared a quick presentation (they wants slides and a poster ugh ... for 5 minutes!!?...nvm) and tbh it all looks pretty dry with the good stuff filtered out. Since its only 5 minutes I can easily skirt around stuff that I don't want to talk about ... the question seems to be do I try to give an engaging talk that gets people interest, or do I remain cagey, give a brief run down of the basics from my original phd proposal and a few bits that I have published already?

Any thoughts/experiences? I'm naturally a sharer but in the last year that's been drummed out of me by other phd students telling me to be extra careful with what I say. But I dont want to miss the opportunity to impress as this often leads to other opportunities.



I too was concerned after I noticed that my peers weren't sharing their ideas as openly as I was so I'd started keeping them to myself until I had to consult with external sources (away from uni)... frankly, I was worried they'd steal my ideas and my research wouldn't be a novelty anymore but my sup reassured me that, even if they wanted to, by the time they got everything in place, ethical approval etc, mine would be done already so I've been pretty much open and honest with everyone ever since. Nothing happened and, as far as I know, fingers crossed, it's still a novelty :)

Saying that, I can't help but wonder why other PhD students are warning you against it... has something happened in the past that you might need to be weary of? If so, then I'd say, let the presentation be dry and protect your intellectual rights! But if not, it might be nice to hear others' thoughts and opinions about your ideas. My research is not on the exact topic I wanted, I had to change it due to some difficulties but it's only grown into what it is today following discussions with others and reading and my own experience too...

Sorry but I think only you can make this decision...


this is a realy difficult one, and something a lot of people worry about. Personally I am keeping most of my stuff to myself at the moment, and not presenting it anywhere. If you are doing your research over three years, then I suppose others would not necessarily be able to get things published before you, but if you are taking longer, and you are in your first year, there is that possibility. You could talk about something more neutral, for example your sample size, or how you intend to collect material and why. Five minutes isn't that long, so there would be no need for a lot of detail, a couple of charts or tables should suffice. Occasionally ideas are pinched. It isn't common, but is a possibility so if you have a novel approach or another aspect that could be used by another before you get to hand in your thesis, I would keep it under wraps until nobody would be able to publish it before you had finished your work.