Popular science presentations GFOK070

For PhD students in the second half of their PhD studies


A Popular science presentation (GFOK070) is a mandatory element in the doctoral education at Chalmers. This means that all doctoral students must present their research work to an interested public without previous knowledge about the students' research topic. You can find your audience in schools, the industry, at a science fair or through different organisations. 


The overall aim is to increase young researchers´ capability to present and disseminate their scientific results and ideas to the public environment in a language that anyone can understand. This will make new research visible in an accessible way to a broad audience (1).  Developing the capability of young researchers in giving popular science presentations could help boost their careers.

Steps for completing your presentation

1. Before your presentation
Consider if you would benefit from taking the course Advanced communication - presentation skills (1,5 HEC) in preparation for your presentation. 

2. Choose the presentation format and platform
For your presentation y
ou can freely choose to do your presentation oraly in front of an audience, as a YouTube video or as a Podcast. Keep in mind that the audience should have no previous knowledge of your area of research. See recommended platforms on this list. You can use other platforms if that suits your research topic better.
Examples of platforms used by Chalmers PhD students:
Älvstrandens bibliotek, Volvo, Theater at Gröna Lund, Sweco, NTI Gymnasiet, Lindholmen Science Park, International School of Gothenburg Region, IT-gymnasiet, Arken Hotel & Spa, Almedalen, Alströmmergymnasiet, Högsbo bibliotek, Infotiv, Innovatum.

Please be advised that a popular science presentation cannot be held infront of fellow PhD students or colleagues due to the need of a mixed audience with no previous knowledge of your research topic.

3. Prepare your presentation
Popular science is an interpretation of science – intended for a general audience. The key is to understand in what way your research is relevant to a given audience. Therefore, focus on consequences and benefits that affects the audience rather than on proving your findings.
  • Write a brief, catchy subheading to translate the scientific title of your thesis
  • Start with the most interesting message, to keep the listeners interested
  • Keep it simple! Avoid specialist terminology or, if you really need it, explain it. 
  • Practice your presentation in front of a friend who is not an academic or in another field of research. Does he/she understand the content?
  • Your presentation should orbit around questions like:
  1. What – is your project about? What do you strive to achieve?
  2. Why – is it important?
  3. Who – does it concern? Who cares?
  4. How – will ordinary people / the industry / the society be effected?
  5. Where – will we see the first applications? (or for fundamental research: Where in society have your subject area had impact?)
  6. When – will we see the effects?

4. During your presentation
Before your start kindly ask at least 5 listeners in the audience to give you constructive feedback on your performance using written forms. The feedback is supposed to examine how well the presenter has managed to make the research topic accessible to the audience. The feedback should help the presenter understand how they are perceived by the audience and which areas or factors of the presentation he/she needs to improve. The audience should evaluate the performance of the presenter and the content of the presentation, not the person itself.
The feedback is to be included in your reflection and the feedback forms are to be attached to the reflection.

Example of feedback forms you might want to use can be seen below. You are free to use other kinds of forms if you so wish to.

Feedback in English
Återkoppling på svenska

Feedback when doing a YouTube video or Podcast:

In the event that you choose to do your presentation through a YouTube video or Podcast you ask a group of people to see/listen to your presentation and evaluate your work by filling in the feedback forms.

5. After your presentation

Write a reflection on your presentation using the GTS guidelines in the document below. Use the questions as inspiration and support to capture the most important components from your performance.

Reflection guidelines

  • consisting of 200-400 words 
  • use the questions in the "Reflection guidelines" to reflect and write your text. Do not answer each question specifically but rather incorporate the answers in your text.
  • Include feedback comments from at least 5 listeners in the audience in your reflection
  • Scan and attach your feedback form to include them to your reflection
  • Name your reflection "First name Last name reflection"
  • Send us your reflection to genericskills@chalmers.se
  • Write “GFOK070” in the subject line

Assessment criteria

You are expected to demonstrate the capability of presenting your research to a non-expert public in an accessible way as a popular science presentation. To achieve that goal, you should ensure that you include the following components in your presentation:
•    the content is presented in a way that makes it accessible to the public
•    the presentation content is clear 
•    the research context, purpose and findings are presented
•    the presentation describes in which area/activity your results will be important, and why
•    the language is simple, precise and tailored to the public. Any technical terms must/should be explained
•    use supporting visual aids and respect the timetable
•    the presentation has a distinct theme and you have good contact with your audience.

Suggested Literature

"Speaker’s Cookbook”, Erik Mattsson (2015)


A written reflection on your presentation consisting of 200-400 words. You are expected to include the audience feedback and your personal learning for future presentations as part of the document. The reflection is to be sent to genericskills@chalmers.se . Please write “GFOK070” in the subject line.

Catharina Hiort, GTS programme manager, CLS

[1] See the Higher Education Act chapter 1. § 2, third paragraph: "The universities shall also cooperate with the surrounding community and provide information about their activities"


Published: Wed 20 Nov 2019.