Work in Progress

60 minutes

In their work-in-progress (WIP) presentation, each doctoral student talks about a part of their research study in a meaningful way to a small multidisciplinary audience of peers and faculty. This gives them practice, with feedback, in:

  • Saying something well and briefly.
  • Developing a good PowerPoint presentation.
  • Addressing those outside their own discipline, as in a conference setting.

The WIP presentation can focus on something unfinished, such as a table they are interpreting in the light of their overall work.

Watch this video to prepare for the session:

Download the curriculum for this session.

By the end of the session, students can:

  • Present scientific work clearly and succinctly within a limited time.
  • Debate and defend scientific work.
  • Explain their research to others outside their own discipline and specialisation.
  • Receive and respond to critical comments.

Organise a small group of students and faculty (up to eight people) for WIP sessions.
(Alternatively, a WIP presentation can be an open forum).
Organise a suitable venue with projector and screen.

Session presenter
Prepares a 15-minute presentation with PowerPoint slides.
Highlights an aspect of their work.
Submits the presentation at least two days beforehand to the assessor/s.

Session chair
Other students take this role in turns over the series of WIP sessions.
They practise their chairing skills, such as opening and closing the session and inviting input and feedback from the assessors and peers.

Assign this role to two or three facilitators or trainers, including at least one from a different discipline.
The assessors review the presentation in advance and prepare questions.


  • Assessors note attendance and active participation by all students in the group.
  • The student who presented goes on to consolidate the feedback and send a copy to their supervisor/s for review and follow up.


Time Step Who
15 minutes 1. Present an aspect of the research Student presenter
30 minutes 2. Respond to the presentation Assessors, peers
15 minutes 3. Manage and respond to critique Student presenter
Step 1. Present an aspect of the research
15 minutes

The student presents an aspect of their research project to members of their pre-assigned WIP group of peers and facilitators. The chair introduces the presenter and ensures that s/he stops at 15 minutes.

Step 2. Respond to the presentation
30 minutes

The chair invites responses, first from the assessors, then from the rest of the audience.

The assessors begin with positive responses, then ask straightforward, clarifying, building up to more challenging questions, and pointing out areas for improvement (no more than ten minutes total per assessor).

Other students and facilitators offer views on the presenter’s project and ask for clarification.

Step 3. Manage and respond to critique
15 minutes

The presenter can respond to critical feedback, ask, counter, and seek advice.


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