Why don't professors give talks at seminars in their own departments? They travel to other schools to give talks, while seminars at their home departments consists of talks given by visitors. Is there a reason for this?

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    They do in many places. Often, this happens when the seminar is out of budget for inviting people from foreign places; but not only then. – darij grinberg Jun 10 '17 at 11:42
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    They also do in all the universities I have been to.. (biology/ecology/geography departments) – tea4two Jun 10 '17 at 11:53
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    Cross-pollination is more important than self-pollination, mostly because self-pollination typically happens anyhow. – 101010111100 Jun 10 '17 at 14:38
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    If people want to know what the researcher in the next door is doing, they have quite a lot of occasions to ask - even knocking at the door and asking. Visitors are there for a short time and organized seminars are more efficient. – Pere Jun 10 '17 at 16:02
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    Even if they don't do talk in their home department, all their graduate students do it several time + defenses etc, so about everyone who is interested is familiar even with the fine details of local professors ' work. Also one main goal of those seminars is to spread knowledge between institutes, give exposure what happens in other places. If you are interested in local lab's work, you have many other ways to talk with them. – Greg Jun 11 '17 at 3:14

In most of the departments that I have known, the professors do indeed give seminars within their own departments. The few exceptions I have known are either fairly small or else have some sort of problem with their seminar culture.

Now, it is certainly true that most talks in any department will generally be given by outsiders---there's a lot of incentives to have visitors give talks (e.g., building collaborations, faculty candidates), and there's just plain lots more researchers outside the department than in it (see Joy's Law).

Still, there will be many possible occasions where an internal talk would be of interest, and I believe that healthy departments see it as a valuable way to keep people in the department connected to one another.

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    We do an interdisciplinary series in my department. We choose an annual theme (one year was "pain", for example), and then have several rounds of talks where generally two people present: one from the humanities, and one from outside the humanities. Almost everyone is from our university, but part of the idea of the series was to get people to know folk elsewhere on campus they might not otherwise meet. – user0721090601 Jun 10 '17 at 13:47
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    My department (math) had a special series of seminars by our professors so that grad students could see what everyone was up to and who they wanted to work with. – MissMonicaE Jun 12 '17 at 12:47

From a chemist's point of view:

At many universities, it's quite uncommon for a professor to give a talk at his or her own institute — at least at the six universities I know — for the simple reason that the content of his research is usually already being presented by his or her group members. It is quite common to have a seminar where PhD students and PostDocs, who do most of the actual research, present their work. So the professor would just give another overview over already presented work.

I've only seen talks of professors at their own institute in case of getting an award, a full professorship, or some kind of lecture series where you want to give an overview of the research done at the institute to people from outside.

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