With all the sadness in my heart, I believe that academia is on life support. The introduction of Large Language models, grievance studies hoaxes, scientific programs that resemble miracle infomercial products, and the distrust generated by slogans such as “follow the science”, etc. are one by one causing multiple organ failures. Attempts to save it like the introduction of Open Science initiatives, Ethical Committees, and tighter standards, in my opinion, in most cases just make the whole academic process more bureaucratic and push it further away from its roots.  

I deeply love science and even though I’m not a super experienced or renowned scientist I want to do whatever I can to save it. So, I decided to share what I’ve learned in my years working as a scientific researcher with the new generation of PhD students. Therefore, for the JTELSS 2023, I gave a workshop on academic writing and one on academic presentations. Two topics that in my consideration highlight current problems in academia. The first one is through the vast number of unreadable complicated papers that almost nobody reads and even fewer people understand. The second one with the high percentage of insufferable academic presentations where the only members of the audience that remain awake are able to do so because instead of paying attention to the presentation, they used that time to answer emails.   

I started the workshop on academic writing with a short test asking participants to name the purpose of writing papers. There were multiple answers to this question like getting a PhD, telling something interesting, communicating the Truth, receiving feedback, etc. 

After listening to some questions I proceed to the next part of the test. Here I presented two different manuscripts and asked participants to quickly say their opinion, on whether the manuscript should be accepted as they are for a journal, a conference, or maybe a workshop. If manuscripts should go through minor or major revisions, or if they should be rejected. One manuscript is three pages long single column and the other one is two pages long double column, but has a big diagram that occupies 1/4th of the manuscript.  Most participants were skeptical about the manuscript and were not entirely sure if it should be accepted as they are.


At this point, I told them that they failed the test. The title of one paper is “Does Inertia of a Body Depends upon its Energy Content” by Albert Einstein and the other paper is titled “Gravitational Collapse and Space-Time Singularities” by Roger Penrose. Both papers lead to a Nobel Prize. They did not need the innumerable pointless claims of how the presented paper will change the world as we regularly do currently with the papers in our field. These two papers did not have countless amounts of references supporting the marketing claims of our study. These two papers did not have all the useless words and tests that we need to add in order to satisfy some reviewers. These two papers actually changed our understanding of the universe forever. 

What it was understood back then is that the purpose of academic writing is to contribute to the scientific discourse. We cannot know the Truth, but we can get closer to it through dialog.

The workshop continued by pointing this out, having us reflect on what we actually know and what we do not know, reflecting on what we can know and what we cannot know. We discussed topics such as: What is science? What is the basis for science to work? What are the limitations of Science? etc.   

Then we distilled the purpose and content of each section of a scientific paper. Participants were asked to draft what they would write in each of the sections based on their current research. Together as a group, we discussed the draft and gave some feedback. 

The workshop finished by sharing tips and tricks to make the writing process easier.  

After the workshop, some participants commented that this was the most relevant workshop that they had attended so far (I’m not sure if they were just polite but anyhow it feels good to receive compliments at least once every decade). To that, I responded: “Thanks a lot, but wait for the Academic Presentation workshop!”

The next workshop was called: “Once Upon a Time… Learning to Present your research” This is the workshop that I really like and feel confident about giving. Some reasons for this are that I had a very good public speaking teacher during my bachelor, always had an admiration for good public speakers, and finally, I was lucky enough to do a PhD about a tool designed to train these skills and that allowed me to spend a lot of time researching the topic and talking about it with experts around the world. 

When participants finished arriving at the workshop room and sit down, I stood up from the back of the room wearing sunglasses, and slowly started walking towards the front while speaking: 

“Do you want to know what it is?

it is everywhere,

it is all around us,

even now in this very room

when you are sleeping at a keynote

or in a regular workshop

it is the world that has been put over

your eyes to blind you from the truth.


nobody can be told what it is

you have to experience it for yourself…

This is your last chance!

after this, there is no turning back

you take the blue pill and you’ll put everyone to sleep with boring presentations

You take the red pill and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”


One cannot become a good presenter by being told how to do a presentation. The workshop continued with a short test where I showed pictures like a Cocoon and a butterfly, an egg and a chick first asking participants to say which one is more beautiful, and then I repeated the images asking which one is more vulnerable. This is because to me it seems to be a rule in nature that in order to be attractive, one needs to be vulnerable. 


So it was time to break our shells. Every participant had to go to the front of the room, stand in an open posture and look at everyone sitting in the room in the eyes for 3 seconds. The workshop then continued with different exercises where participants had to practice speaking to the audience in different ways. 

The second part of the workshop focused on the content and how to pack the content in order to transmit it to the audience. We discussed how to frame a presentation and how 99% of researchers just do it completely wrong. We examined and practiced different aspects of the presentation such as the introduction (e.g. do NOT ever start with “Hello my name is… the title of my research is…”, changing dynamics, wow effect, and conclusion. 


At the end of the session, I heard a participant saying: “this was better than any therapy session.”

To that, a second participant replied: “I was about to say the same.”


My self-esteem was on the roof at that moment. Later that night I asked some of the participants to explain their research and they started saying: “The title of my research is…”. 

My reply was: “Ok, thanks for showing me that I’m a terrible teacher 🙂 .”