I'm traveling a lot this summer, and I invited myself to visit and give talks at a couple of universities in other countries.

Do I list these talks on my CV? If so, under what heading? They're not exactly "Invited Talks." I don't have a general "Talks" section on my CV because I want to exclude conference presentations (which are already represented as publications, and which nobody lists in my field). I could have a "Seminars and Colloquia" heading, but people might assume these were invited.

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    Do you want a limited size CV? If not, you could have a general sections "Talks", with sub-sections "Conference talks", "Invited talks", "Presentations".
    – user102
    Jun 13, 2014 at 12:27
  • I don't want to list conference talks at all, that's why I don't have a general "Talks." Also, if I subcategorized without including "Conference talks" I'd just have a few categories with one talk each, which would look weird.
    – ff524
    Jun 13, 2014 at 12:28
  • Have you presented all your published conference papers? In any case, it can be worth it to point out that you've presented the papers, in addition to publish them. Basically, you put in your CV evidences of some of your skills. Seeing that you've given 50 public presentations shows that you might be more comfortable speaking in public that if you've given only 1. Seeing that you've been invited shows that some people were ready to put money to have you give a talk. Those are different evidences.
    – user102
    Jun 13, 2014 at 12:36
  • @Charles In my field, nobody puts conference paper talks on their CV, so it would look weird.
    – ff524
    Jun 13, 2014 at 12:39
  • "Selected talks" seems to be a good title. Also with "Seminars and Colloquia" - I does no imply that they are invited. Especially as exact setting of having a seminar varies. For example, if I was invited during an informal talk with my MSc advisor, should I call it an invited seminar? And even if (I don't), the difference is not much for a situation if it is me who ask first. Jun 13, 2014 at 12:52

3 Answers 3



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.

That said, you may want to distinguish plenary talks at conferences and formally organized departmental colloquia from random seminars run by individual faculty.

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    Wait a minute, so if you submitted an abstract to a conference, which is basically saying "hey can I come" and they accept, the equivalent of saying "Sure!" are you saying that is an invited talk. Then what talks aren't invited? Feb 20, 2015 at 21:23

What you list on a CV depends on the purpose of the CV. The idea that you have a single CV isn't really accurate. For example, using an NIH CV/biosketch for a job application would not be a good strategy. I believe that a "long" CV should have everything on it. I add things to my long CV as I do them which makes creating shorter CVs tailored for a particular purpose much easier since deleting is much easier than adding.

There are many things for which there is a benefit of listing talks that you have given at other departments/labs on the CV, the issue is really what "heading" they come under. The most critical thing when divining things up is that each item on your CV can only be listed once. You cannot list a conference you attended, gave a talk at, had an abstract published for, and a paper published for four times. It can only go on the CV once.

I try and only divide things into sections based on "concrete" criteria. It is clear when you are giving an invited talk at a conference, but it is not clear whether a departmental talk is invited or not. Similarly, it is not always clear whether a departmental seminar is a job talk or not.

The relevant sections on my CV are (a) Conference Papers, (b) Conference Abstracts, and (c) Research Presentations. Each "presentation" only goes under one category. I limit the "abstract" category to conferences that produce archival abstract books that people have a fighting chance of finding. Talks and poster presentations at conferences that don't have archival abstract, departmental seminars, talks to research groups, and job talks, go under "research presentations". I have a separate teaching presentations section for teaching based job talks.

I split the papers and abstracts sections into posters/talks and invited/submitted (someday hopefully I will add key note). The presentations I split into internal and external. I like to keep track of my internal presentations for annual review CV since it lets me demonstrate departmental citizenship. I tend not to split the presentations into posters/talks or invited/submitted since as I mention before, it is too difficult.

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    Re the second paragraph. At least in mathematics, because the publication process is often completely independent of the conference presentation process, it is not unusual to list both a published paper and a talk about the same results at a conference. Jun 13, 2014 at 13:07
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    Right now, the main purpose for my CV is to send to people I want to visit when I invite myself to talk there :)
    – ff524
    Jun 13, 2014 at 13:30

Younger faculty (with smaller vitas) tend to include less prestigious colloquium talks on their vitas. More established faculty, who have longer lists of more prestigious talks, may just have one line saying "colloquia and seminar talks at many universities." (That's a real example from a senior professor.) I tend to agree: if you have done something, you don't want your vita to suggest you've done nothing.

The main thing I tell my students is that a vita has to pass the "straight face test". If someone asks you in person whether some line "truly" deserves to be on your vita, you need to be able to justify it with a straight face. This is also how you know whether to include e.g. prizes that you won as an undergraduate: when you can no longer justify them with a straight face, it's time to remove them.

As long as you can do that, it's unlikely anyone will press you too hard on it. Other people in your field will understand how things work, so the main goal of the vita is to present yourself clearly to them. They can make their own judgement about the value of each activity. Unless you can't include something with a straight face, you can only hurt yourself by leaving out "minor" activities.

  • People tend to be bad at judging the "straight face" test for themselves. I once interviewed someone who told me with a completely straight face that he listed "Python" on his résumé because he "read a tutorial about it online once"
    – ff524
    Jun 13, 2014 at 13:29
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    I agree the person you mention seems to have a threshold that's too low. Here is my perspective (from mathematics). If I just visit a colleague, but don't give a public talk, I don't put it on my vita. If I give a talk that is announced to the research group, held in an official space like a classroom, and attended by other people (even if it is only a few) then I am likely to list it as a "seminar" talk that I gave. This relies on my knowledge that other people reading my vita understand that seminar talks are not very prestigious, and are generally based on personal invitation. Jun 13, 2014 at 13:38

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