Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Mature Was the Last Presentation You've Given?

Marc Kuchner, at Soapbox Science says:
We often argue over the quality of our colleagues’ presentations. When it is hiring time, for example, and faculty candidates are parading through your department, no doubt a common topic of conversation is who gave the best talk. And the maturity level of the research is often a contentious point. With these conversations in mind, I’d like to suggest a numerical scale we can use to describe scientific talks. This scale is not meant to weigh the overall quality of a talk, only to resolve some of the tension between those who prefer solid conclusions and those who enjoy more nebulous forecasting. 
The five point scale ranges from talks "that might one day lead to a testable new hypothesis or new data" to talks that "describe data and calculations that the community recognizes as part of its culture and history".

Though the simplicity of his five point scale is appealing, the higher levels depend on having a really great reputation and more importantly, time for that reputation to have developed.  So unfortunately, a Science Maturity Level 5 presentation is out of reach for most early career researchers.  However, it's still good to keep in mind that good talks don't have to be a flashbang hypothesis-data-conclusion-hypothesis-data-conclusion presentation that makes a scientist sound like an android from the 24th century.

Check out "What's Your Science Maturity Level".