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Archive for July, 2022

Getting the Most Out of Presenting Your Research to Non-specialists, Reflections on the 2022 UCLIC PhD Showcase By Zak Morgan, PhD Student

By sharon.betts, on 4 July 2022

Zak Morgan Cumberland Lodge poster

One of the most challenging parts of starting my PhD journey so far, has been adapting my written work from the highly technical works such as academic papers, to a broader audience such as those at multi-disciplinary research conferences. The formal definition of this skill would be in the D domain of the Researcher Development Framework, D2 “Communication and Dissemination” and D3 “Engagement and Impact”.

My first poster presentation was given at Cumberland Lodge, mainly to fellow students in the FAI CDT, but also to other AI focused CDTs around the country. The second referenced here however was to other PhD students and academics in the UCL interaction centre (UCLIC) who are a multi-disciplinary group focused on all avenues of technology and how we interact with it, combining the fields of computer science and psychology.

One of the presentations at the showcase which I found interesting was by Leon Reicherts, who presented his paper “Do Make me Think!”. This is about how to use conversational user interfaces to ask questions to the user, in order to enable “deeper” thinking and more thorough learning to the user. I like to think of this as an interactive version of rubberducking.

I think applying a similar concept to these talks in beneficial. That is that ideally you can inform the audience with sufficient detail about your project in order to have the opportunity to have questions fed back to you at the end which provoke this “deeper thinking”. The difference in audience in these two presentations was crucial in order to perform the first part of this technique correctly.

These presentations have been very beneficial to me in generating new directions for my research, informing me on how well I communicated my research as well as having my peers send me relevant research papers that they see that they think will be useful to me. I can’t stress enough how much this last point has helped me in keeping up to date in my research and in writing my literature reviews, search engines can’t hold a candle to a good network of researchers!

This work was supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering Chairs in Emerging Technology Scheme (CiET1718/14)