Addendum to the Graduate School Handbook

Addendum: Seminar Guidelines
The goal of a methods seminar is to present your thesis proposal to the department. When you give your methods seminar, your proposal should be complete or nearly complete. You should give your methods seminar early in your career in order to get useful feedback with others in the department and engage others in discussions of your project. 

A good methods seminar should contain:

  1. A review of the goals of research in your area and the overall goals of your associated research program.
    1. What do others want to know?
    2. Why do they want to know it?
    3. What insect/project have you chosen?
      1. Why is it unique?
      2. Why is it important?
  2. A statement of the objectives of your Research Project as outlined in your thesis proposal
    1. How do your objectives relate to research in your area?
    2. If successful, what will your research contribute?
  3. Your plan of research. For each objective: 
    1. What do you plan to do?
    2. What hypotheses will you be testing?
      1. How will you decide to accept/reject hypothesis?
      2. How will you interpret an accepted hypothesis?
      3. How will you interpret a rejected hypothesis?
    3. When do you plan to do it?
    4. How do you plan to do it?
      1. What important techniques will you use?
      2. How does the technique work?
      3. What challenges do you anticipate?
      4. What contingency plans do you have if a method does not work?
      5. What materials and animals will you need for your research?
        1. Will you colonize insects or work with field populations?
        2. How many will you need?
        3. What are the challenges?

Your talk should end with a Take Home message.

A good Take Home message follows the 27-9-3 rule:

  • No more than 27 words
  • No longer than 9 seconds
  • No more than 3 points

Other suggestions: Practice and get feedback. Your advisor and lab mates can help you if you practice before them with plenty of time to incorporate changes.