I have to give a presentation about progress in my PhD after the first six months. I am not sure what is expected from a PhD student at this stage. I have done mostly literature review and a few initial experiments with the existing technology.

I am planning to divide the presentation into different sections such as background/importance of the research work, problem that needs to be addressed and possible approaches.

It would be nice to get some ideas about such presentations.

  • 2
    What does your advisor or program expect? I would look at see what other students in your research group or department do. The answer to your question seems to depend upon your specific situation. Oct 19, 2017 at 14:14
  • 2
    Don't ask us; ask them. Oct 19, 2017 at 18:52

3 Answers 3


Having recently gone through a 9 month review for my part-time PhD (so really 4.5 months in) I can give you an idea as to the approximate sections I had. It depends on what format your institution decides to use, and you'll have to look that up for yourself. Mine was a relatively formal presentation to my supervisors and an independent Chairperson who wasn't necessarily aware of my work (but is constant throughout the PhD process).

I discussed the following topics:

  • Introduction to the problem space.
  • Ideas about specific research questions (may not yet be defined).
  • The beginnings of a literature review: notable results, papers, or individuals.
  • Preliminary research: any results, simulations, theory, or suitable work that you may already be putting in (field dependent).
  • Proposed future work that will help either answer the proposed research questions or else guide their formation.
  • A "Project Management" perspective: plans for completion, awareness of deadlines, risks to completion. The last of these was something that was regarded as high priority.

In my opinion the key things at this stage would be to show that you a) are making solid progress and b) there aren't any major barriers to your completion. No one is expecting you to go in to this presentation as a world-leading authority in your field after 6 months. As I'm not a PhD reviewer there may be other criteria, this was what I was advised to focus on.

As said elsewhere though, there should be guidelines at your University or else ask other students or your supervisor about typical content. Depending on who is present remember to pitch your content appropriately. Your direct supervisor(s) will be relatively familiar with your work however if there are outside assessors they may not be aware of your work or even particularly knowledgeable about the problem.


Generally speaking, what your supervisors want to see is that you are not completely lost, but instead have understood the problem and know where you are going. So my suggestion is to show them exactly that and convince them that you are on the right path.

From what you are writing, it sounds like you are doing good progress. Understanding the problem is usually the first big hurdle with PhD research. The second is defining one or more research objectives that are achievable with the resources and time you have available during your PhD.

You say you have already reviewed existing literature and started running experiments, so that should have given you a sufficient understanding of the current state of the art in your research field. What I suggest you do now is to try and define realistic research objectives that you believe you can achieve within the time at your disposal.

The layout you suggested sounds good to me. Include:

  1. introduction with description of the problem you are trying to solve
  2. previous research and existing solutions to the problem
  3. description of the experiments you have run and presentation of your preliminary results
  4. plan of research and the next steps you will take

Obviously, first consult any specific guidelines your faculty / department / research group might have regarding the preparation for this review presentation. Good luck!


Sounds good. I don't think that people expect you to already have lots of results after 6 months; if you have ideas what to look into and why that is important and interesting, that is not bad at all.
Apart from that, this is a good question to ask your advisor, he/she knows the rules and regulations at your university better than random people on the Internet.

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