Scientists watch a lot of talks, and I’ve noticed a lot of people (including me) make the same handful of mistakes. Here are a few of my tips:
Number your slides. Powerpoint, Keynote and Beamer all have options to add these automatically. Visible slide numbers make it easier for people to refer back to a specific slide if they have a question, especially at the end.
Test your slides on a projector or low-resolution monitor. Computer monitor resolutions have steadily grown, but projectors technology seems stuck in 2004. This leads to a familiar trap: you make beautiful figure with graceful thin lines on your laptop, which are rendered totally invisible by the projector. Same goes for contrast, light colors like yellow are often invisible on projectors.
Keep the text to a minimum. You want people listening to you speak, not reading your slides. Use slides for short bullet points and for showing off your figures.
Even fewer equations. Unless you’re teaching a class, people are rarely going to be interested in following any mathematical derivations, and they’re hard to follow on a slide anyways. 1-2 equations per slide max. If people want to know more, they can always ask, which will probably lead to a more interesting discussion anyways.
Finally, include your contact information on the final slide. It’s easy to space out at the start of a presentation and forget to jot down the presenter’s name. Make it easier for your audience by having your name and email on the last slide along with any relevant papers you want to promote.
Disclaimer: I want to be 100% clear that these tips are not a veiled reference to anyone in particular.
After much delay, my March Meeting talk is finally online in all the right places! You can watch my talk on Virtual March Meeting or by following the link from the APS Bulletin, but I’ll also embed the video and post the slides here (PDF of slides).
As you’ve probably heard, the 2020 APS March Meeting was cancelled due to concerns over coronavirus. It was cancelled only 36 hours before it was scheduled to begin. Myself and many other scientists were already in Denver when we heard.
I just presented a talk“Quenching to field-stabilized magnetization plateaus in the unfrustrated Ising antiferromagnet” based on my preprint that I posted on arXiv last week at the Annual Meeting of the Physical Society of Taiwan at National Pingtung University in Pingtung, Taiwan. I haven’t gotten around to making a post about this paper yet (that is coming soon), but in the meantime I will post my slides from this talk here. My slides included some movies of the process of freezing in to magnetization plateaus. Since PDFs can’t include movies I will post the movies below.
With your academic email address posted online, you’ll be flooded with sketchy offers inviting you to submit your manuscript to open-access journals with legitimate sounding names like “British Journal of Science” or “Cancer Research Frontiers”. These predatory journals typically do little or no peer review. One pair of scientists was even able to get a paper containing only the repeated text “Get me off your f___ing mailing list” published in the predatory International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology.
The proliferation of these journals is perhaps the chief disadvantage of the move towards open access since, in the digital age, setting up a website is nearly free, and open access journals need not convince any librarians to pay for subscriptions to make money. Instead these ‘journals’ charge huge fees to publish and conduct shoddy peer review or none at all. Some are less directly predatory, but are instead “vanity press” where they get you to pay a fee to publish your thesis with them with little editing or review.
You might also find yourself invited by [person you’ve never met/heard of] to give a talk at [prestigious conference you’ve never heard of] organized by [not a university or professional society]. When you go to register, you’ll find that it’s bizarrely expensive. I think that at least sometimes conferences are real, but like the predatory journals, they are just doing it for a profit.
At least in the case of the predatory journals, Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers (now located here)provides a great way to check if the journal is a known scam so you can end that email to your spam folder without a tinge of fear that you’re throwing away a legitimate offer. Two notes of caution here: (1) obviously just because it isn’t on the list doesn’t mean everything is above board, so still do your due diligence and (2) on the Beall’s List, you have to click through publishers, standalone journals and vanity press and search each separately.
On 27 June I have the honor of being an invited speaker at ISEAS 7: Frontiers in Materials Science at Tamkang University in Tamsui, Taiwan. My talk will be titled: Accessing quantum criticality with magnetic field effects: metamagnetism and deconfinement. I’m very much looking forward to the workshop and meeting the other attendees. Thanks very much to Prof. Chao-Hung Du of TKU for the invitation!
I was walking by the SpringerNature booth at the March Meeting and the agent I worked with (Sam Harrison) pointed out that a print copy of my dissertation was there, on display and for sale! Truly a surreal experience!
Me and my dissertation on display at the March Meeting. Thanks to Sam Harrison for taking this picture for me.
I’m about to set off to Boston for the APS March Meeting 2019 (March 4-8). I’ll be presenting my newest work on using infinite boundary conditions are current reservoirs for measuring steady-state currents in quantum wires using tensor network methods. My talk is at Wednesday 6 March at 8:48am in room 156C. If you want to chat with me at the March Meeting drop me a line.
After the March Meeting I’ll be visiting the Sandvik group at Boston University 11-20 March. I’m really looking forward to seeing all my old friends and colleagues at BU.
This conference was very local: only about 10% of the participants were from abroad (I’m uncertain if that figure includes people like me). They were nonetheless able to get some pretty good invited speakers including my PhD supervisor, Anders Sandvik, and Nobel Laureate and former US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. I was honored to shake Secretary Chu’s hand at the banquet (unfortunately, there is no selfie).
I gave a talk based on thermodynamics of deconfined spinons in a magnetic field, the same topic as my poster from the ICAM-NCTS.
I had great conversations with Taiwanese physicists, including some new potential collaborators. I was also able to catch up with my PhD supervisor, Anders Sandvik to discuss some aspects of the modifications I am making to my QMC code in order to measure off-diagonal imaginary-time correlations.
As a bonus, while walking from my hotel to the conference I stumbled upon the NTHU Research Reactor. I’ve always wanted to see the inside of a nuclear reactor, but I never managed to get a tour of the MIT research reactor (despite living only blocks away from it in Cambridge, MA). Hopefully I can get a tour of this one.