A couple of month ago, I was in a conference with my adviser. I had a poster and he had a talk. His talk was about my project. In fact, it was newer results that I presented in my poster. After he gave his talk, someone asked me "why while you are here your adviser present your work instead of yourself?"

At that time I basically didn't answer that question and just moved on with a smile. I thought that was not so important but right now, I think is it really ok ? Is it normal among academia?

Any idea or suggestion is appreciated!

  • 2
    It's not normal in my field, but what field are you asking about?
    – Thomas
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 3:25
  • In my field it is uncommon to have two contributions for the same topic as poster and as presentation - did the talk of your advisor cover a broader range? Or was it an invited / special talk? Why did you have two contributions?
    – OBu
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 6:48
  • 4
    In life sciences this is common. Usually the advisor will also promote your poster during their talk and encourage people to see the poster and talk with you.
    – Bitwise
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 7:26
  • I would say that in biochemistry (specifically glycomics) this is quite normal, albeit you would try to put poster and the talk in a slightly different context. For instance, the talk could be the results and the poster could discuss the method development behind the results.
    – Bas Jansen
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 11:25
  • @Thomas my field is computational physics. It is not normal yet?!
    – user97402
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 13:23

3 Answers 3


As a life scientist i'd say its completely normal. Often what would happen is that the lab head will give a talk that synthesizes the work of several people in the lab, each of which will have a poster on their specific part of the work. Its not unheard of though for a supervisor to give a talk on just one project from one student, especially if the lab is small or new.

I have to say though, that as a supervisor, asking the conference organisers if they'd mind the student giving the talk rather than the supervisor can be a really positive thing to do for your students careers, and supervisors should seriously consider doing so if they think they can.


It is normal assuming (a) your advisor is actively involved in the research project, i.e., would be a co-author on any publications coming from the work and (b) your advisor acknowledged your role in the research during his/her presentation. For most faculty advisors (at least in my specific STEM field), much or all of their research is done with advisees, so any research talk they give will likely describe work done with others.

For reference, my advisor gave a seminar in my own department on a project that I led. I had no problem with this -- it was nice to get their perspective on my work, and they acknowledged that I had done much of the legwork.

  • I didn't think that's a problem but because someone asked me that question I thought OK maybe he's right I'm here already! Also, a lot of talks in that conference were given just by graduate students where their advisers even were not in the conference at all.
    – user97402
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 13:28
  • Well, your advisor may have just wanted to attend this particular conference and giving a talk justified the travel costs. If you have an otherwise normal advisor-advisee relationship, I do not think this situation is cause for alarm.
    – WazyMaze
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 19:29

It's normal in my field. Good other answers: the supervisor should mention the student.

This also depends on what else was presented. For example, if the supervisor also presented other work that wasn't done by the student, it would be even more tricky for the student to present that work, because they weren't involved and and/or wouldn't be as capable of describing it or fielding questions. Finally, it also depends on the trainee's readiness to present in that setting and format. Some talks are more programmatic and appropriate for faculty; some are more brief and more appropriate for students.

  • The talks in that conference were more appropriate for students rather than faculties. I mean I was among a few people in that conference which had poster but without talk.
    – user97402
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 13:30
  • 1
    @MehrdadYousefi I wouldn't worry about it too much, but if you want to give a talk next conference be sure to bring that up with your supervisor. I only see it as odd if they work against your interests. If your interests aren't known they can't really work against them.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 14:44

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