This is question is regarding tenure-track job (in STEM) interview in the US.

I will be giving 20 minute research talk during my on-campus visit for a teaching focussed school. Audience will all faculty members and may be graduate students; basically non experts in my field. There will be no teaching demo. I was wondering if I should present the overview of all research projects to demonstrate that I have a solid research program and to show that there are enough projects for collaboration with students. Or should I pick one of the research projects and talk about it in detail? Even if I pick one project, it is hard to start from the basics and still be able to show methodology as well as results. Twenty minutes seem very less for a job talk and hence this dilemma.

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    20 minutes would be short for a position at a research university in the US, but not that weird in the UK. For a teaching school, it does seem weird that they ask you for a research presentation and not a teaching one. I suggest you focus on convincing the faculty and the students that (1) you can teach classes in your area well, and (2) successfully supervise undergrad research.
    – Kimball
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 14:23
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    A common advice is "One third everyone understands, one third experts will understand, one third only you understand". The first is mostly about motivation and general introduction into the topic, without any details. The third is to show that you're the expert. How you fill this structure with different projects depends on the projects you have, and how well they line up as a coherent story. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


My suggestion is that you give an overview and avoid detail. Say that you can provide detail if needed later.

But, I'd focus, especially, on the opportunities you would provide for students (perhaps at all levels) to participate in your research program. At a research university doctoral dissertation research is especially important, of course, but undergraduate opportunities might also be a plus. And research opportunities at primarily undergraduate institutions are sometimes hard to find, but valued.

Mentioning the possibility of external funding won't hurt either. Especially if that also supports students.

Imagine an extended elevator talk where you want to give a general idea and, if possible connect it a bit to the areas of your listeners so that they can nod affirmatively rather than express puzzlement.

It would be much different if you were speaking to a seminar of specialists in your field.

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