I am a second-year PhD student.

Through a grant I was able to organize a scientific visit for myself to another university. The aim of this visit was just to talk and discuss with some of the staff there about their research.

Prior to my arrival, my host notified me that they frequently hold internal seminars/colloquia etc. and would I like to give a talk. I obviously accepted this offer.

My question is, when listing this talk on my CV, should I list it as contributed, invited, or just a 'Talk'?

I only ask as typically I think of the term 'invited talks' for more senior, established academics and it was I who petitioned my host in the first instance for a visit.

Any input welcome. Thanks

2 Answers 2


The distinction between contributed and invited talks applies to conferences, and not to departmental seminars.

The details of who asked first, etc, are no reasonable basis for any distinction between seminar talks.

Since getting yourself invited to give a seminar talk tends to be very easy, I would recommend to list them apart from invited conference talks. One can either go for "Invited talks / Contributed talks / Seminar talks" or for "Invited talks / Contributed & Seminar talks" as subcategories.

  • 1
    Although there is a big discussion on my answer about what exactly counts as an invited talk, in pragmatic terms I think what Arno suggests in this answer is basically the right approach (and for what it's worth, it's what I do). Mar 7, 2018 at 16:38
  • When they pay for you to fly out and stay at a hotel and arrange a full day of visits and have you give a seminar... I'd put that as invited not contributed and I wouldn't say it's "so easy" to get invited for seminars. I don't think it matters if the initial suggestion to talk came from you or them, in the end they paid for you to come!
    – rrr
    Aug 11, 2023 at 20:39

They asked you to give the talk, so therefore it's an invited talk.

In general, what counts as an invited talk can be rather fuzzy, which is why questions like this are valuable. There are clear cases: if you receive an email from the organiser of a seminar or colloquium series at an external organisation, asking you to come and give a talk, then that's an invited talk. Similarly if they ask you to make a research visit to their institution, and give a talk while you're there. But what if you organise the visit, as in this question, and they ask you to give a talk during your visit? This is less clear, since it may well be that they would not have issued the invitation otherwise (although this is always subject to externalities: perhaps they wouldn't have had the funding to invite you, but are delighted that you will be there, since they would have invited you if they could). My view is that in such situations, a clear invitation to give a talk having been issued by the organiser, such talks count as invited.

Even further along this continuum, many contributors to this site appear to agree that even if you had suggested that you could give a talk, it would still count as an invited talk.

JeffE puts this view very clearly in his answer to the linked question:

If you discover that a friend in a distant city is having a birthday party, and you ask "Hey, can I come?" and they say "Sure!", you've been invited to the party.

Same thing goes for talks. When the host institution agreed to let you talk, that was your invitation, which makes it an invited talk.

  • 6
    According to this logic, what talks are not "invited"? When you barge into the conference room and start talking before security grabs you? If you're giving a talk, then (usually...) someone has given you a thumbs up at some point. To me, the difference between an invited talk and a contributed talk is that in the case of an invited talk, the organizers contacted you first, whereas for contributed talks, you asked the organizers if you could give a talk (ranging from a short email "Hey, can I come?" to a formal reviewing process where you submit an a title/abstract and someone evaluates it).
    – user9646
    Mar 7, 2018 at 14:07
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    In my experience in math, the comparison to a birthday party is not accurate. Or, at least, that would count as a "contributed" talk. Nevertheless, since you did not push to give a talk, but were literally invited to, this would seem to count more-or-less as an invited talk, circumstances aside. True, it would have been "more" invited if your entire visit were not at your initiative, but nevermind. Mar 7, 2018 at 14:12
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    @NajibIdrissi it should be clear that the context here is seminar series or colloquia, not conferences. Talks are not "invited" when they're contributed via some standard procedure. One example is when one submits to a conference which has put out a call for papers or abstracts. Another is when a department has a standing work-in-progress seminar that any member of the department can give a talk at. Mar 7, 2018 at 14:14
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    @NajibIdrissi A contributed talk is one where you had to submit a form, and someone chose you from among several other applicants. All other talks are invited talks. So if I invite myself by sending an email to the seminar organizer, that is still an invited talk. I am basing this on how I've seen people use the terms in academic math, not the dictionary definitions.
    – user37208
    Mar 7, 2018 at 15:13
  • 1
    @user37208 Compare "someone chose you from among several other applicants" and "the host institution agreed to let you talk, that was your invitation". Anyway, on my own CV I simply dodge the issue by separating in three subsections (invited, seminars, contributed).
    – user9646
    Mar 7, 2018 at 15:21

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