Graduate Seminar Guidelines


Students who are scheduled to give either a literature or research seminar register for CH 586; all other students register for CH 585.

Seminar topics and dates must be reserved before the end of the semester preceding the one in which you wish to present.

Seminars can be scheduled only by the students, not by their research advisors. However, approval of the topic by the research advisor and supervising faculty is required before a date will be reserved.

All students must have a faculty member supervising the preparation of their seminars. For research seminars, the research advisor will normally serve as supervisor. For literature seminars, the supervisor will be the faculty member who suggested the topic or another faculty member (other than their research advisor) who has agreed to oversee the talk (in the case of an original, student-chosen topic).

For literature seminars, each student’s topic must be unique (i.e., not presented by somebody else in the recent past). Students must choose a topic that does not significantly overlap with active research in their own group. Students may choose a topic from the list of suggested topics or may select their own, original topic. Students may not choose a topic suggested by their own research advisor.


Each graduate student seminar consists of two parts: a written report, distributed in advance to faculty, postdocs, and graduate students; and an oral presentation.

Written Report

The report may be no more than 10 pages long. This total does not include the cover page or references.

Use ACS style guidelines for style, abbreviations, symbols, references, etc. References should be consistently formatted in the style used in a journal in an appropriate field (for example, J. Am. Chem. Soc.).

All material (including graphics) drawn from outside sources must be properly acknowledged! Failure to do so constitutes academic misconduct.

The final draft must be presented to your supervising professor (see above) for review and approval. Unless other arrangements are made, the deadline to submit this draft is 12:00 p.m. on the Monday prior to distribution of the report (eight days before the seminar date).

Written reports are to be distributed to faculty mailboxes no later than 12:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding the seminar. A PDF version of the report must be posted at the same time in lieu of distribution to postdocs and graduate students. Failure to meet this requirement can result in the assignment of a failing grade, reduction in the assigned grade, or postponement of the seminar to the following semester.

Oral Presentation

Prepare and rehearse your presentation prior to the seminar date. Practice in front of other graduate students, your supervising professor, your research advisor, etc., to polish your talk and anticipate questions.

The length of the talk should be approximately 45-50 minutes.

The talk should be delivered in a professional manner.

Overheads, slides, or PowerPoint presentations will be allowed, but you are responsible for preparing any equipment necessary for your talk.

Graphics should be clear and readable from all parts of the room. Where appropriate, graphics from outside sources should be referenced on each slide.


Reserve your seminar date prior to the start of the semester in which you plan to give your seminar. Use the department’s Seminar Reservation Form (pdf) to do this. Normally, no more than one student seminar will be scheduled per week. Literature seminars normally will not be scheduled during the Interim or summer terms.

Attendance at Seminars

Attendance at graduate student seminars and visiting speaker seminars is expected for all students registered in either CH 585 or CH 586. Students must attend eight or 80 percent of the total number (whichever is fewer) of graduate student seminars and six of the visiting speaker seminars for satisfactory attendance. If fewer than six visiting speaker seminars are scheduled, then students must attend all of these seminars.

For your attendance at a seminar to count, you must fulfill three requirements:

  • Arrive on time.
  • Stay until the end of the lecture.
  • Sign the attendance sheet yourself.

If you cannot meet all of these requirements, then you must make arrangements with the instructor prior to the seminar. Failure to attend the required minimum number of seminars can result in a grade of “F” for the course.