PubhD: Not as popular as Grumpy Cat…but it is smarter.


Ever wondered what would happen if someone actually followed up on that silly idea that came to them after a couple of pints? We used to wonder this, and then we were enjoying a couple of pints and had a silly idea.

Initially we imagined a a couple of people huddled around a table nodding enthusiastically as a chemist PhD desperately tried to convince them that they don’t really use test tubes any more.

But, where would we find speakers? Where would we find an audience? Where would we meet? What would we call it?

A blog post and some inspired punning later and it turns out that this silly idea wasn’t so silly after all. The idea grew into PubhD. In a matter of weeks we have:

Coming soon: PubhD (University of Birmingham)

Coming soon: PubhD (University of Birmingham)

It’s the fact that others have started up so quickly that has really blown us away. No one actually knows if it will work – but the enthusiasm and response gives us huge confidence that, apart from tweaking the format, we’re all on to a winner.

So, if you’re interested in joining in or setting one up, follow the simple steps on the “How To” post to find like minded people and speakers. This isn’t a cult though, so if a variation works for your group go ahead and try it and let us know how it goes. Apart from ruining the pun there’s no reason why this couldn’t work in a coffee shop, back room or any space where interested folk can talk about and listen to other interesting folk. Sharing the ideas that work and don’t work will help us all refine the idea and have really successful meetings.

We’ll post honestly about the first meeting and invite the comments of all who attended (and those that didn’t) so that PubhD (Birmingham/Glasgow/Lincoln etc.) can avoid the mistakes that we will undoubtedly make.

PubhD logos and banners

As we are keen that the PubhD idea spreads, feel free to use any of the logos and banners. They are available in several sizes. Also see “How to set-up a PubhD (and get some speakers)“.

Font used

Rockwell Extra Bold


(Thank you Barbara Griffin!)

No added text

New PubhD Logo-200x200-by Barbara Griffin

Other versions: 500 x 500, 780 x 780

Twitter (400 x 400)

Twitter Icon - 400x400

No added text – transparent background


Other versions: 780 x 780

With text

634 x 210 (as used for PubhD Nottingham’s Facebook group):

PubhD Banner-New Icon-634x210-With Text

828 x 315 (recommended size for Facebook pages)


1000 x 288

PubhD Banner-New Icon-1000x288-With Text

766 x 422:

pubhd logo with text cased 766x422

615 x 210:

pubhd logo with text cased 615x210

500 x 210:

pubhd logo with text cased, no PubhD 500x210

Old logo (no longer used):

How to set-up a Contact Us page in

In a blog, it is simple to create a Contact Us form.

There are, however, a couple of things you will want to tweak:

  • You’ll want the messages to be sent to your PubhD email address, so multiple PubhD “Admins” can logon to the same email account to see and respond to the messages.
  • You’ll want each message subject to be unique. By default, “Contact Us” messages will arrive with identical subject text. This is a problem because Gmail groups emails by subject; so if every message has the same subject you will have many different “Contact Us” messages grouped together into one email thread. This is not very convenient.

To create a Contact Us page:

  1. Create a new page (rather than a new post).
  2. Paste in the code below.
  3. Amend the “to” email address.

[contact-form to='YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS']
[contact-field label='Name' type='subject' required='1' default=' '/]
[contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/]
[contact-field label='Website' type='url'/]
[contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/]

With this, the “Contact Us” messages that arrive in your inbox will have the person’s name as the email subject.

And I’m sure will have a plugin, and Blogspot will have its own “contact form” code.

How to set-up a PubhD (and get some speakers)

PubhD has a very simple format and the idea is spreading. So far there have been PubhD events in 20 cities across the UK, Ireland and Portugal.

In this post, I’m going to write about what we did to get the initial PubhD going (and how we got our speakers). It appears to have worked, and it might work for you too.

By the way: we are not academics, or connected to either of the Nottingham universities. You don’t need to be an academic to start a PubhD!

Also, please get in touch. We have a FAQ PDF that we can send to you that has much more information than this blog post and has been updated over time with hints and tips. And, of course, we can answer any other questions that you may have.

There is also a guide in Portuguese:

And, finally: it is called PubhD. Not PubHD! (Because it combines “Pub” with “PhD”, and so needs a lowercase ‘h’).

This is what we did

  1. Set up this blog:
  2. Added some content: the Introducing PubhD blog post, the About page, the Contact Us page, the PubhD Format page.
  3. Set up a Gmail account and pointed the Contact Us page at it (I have some tips about how to do this so the incoming emails are nicely “filed”).
  4. Set up a Twitter account: _PubhD.
  5. Added some content to the Twitter feed. For example, a link to the Introducing PubhD and a Tweet asking for speakers and directing them to the Contact Us page. These Tweets were RTed via Nottingham Skeptics Twitter account.
  6. Searched on Twitter for “PhD Nottingham” – and followed people that had something relevant in their bio.
  7. Searched on Twitter for “Nottingham University” – and followed people that had something relevant in their bio. We also followed lots of department accounts.
  8. Many accounts followed us back and RTed the initial Tweets.
  9. Any PhD student (i.e. potential speaker!) that followed back, received a Tweet encouraging them to sign-up. Many of them did. And any department that followed back was asked to pass the links around their students.
  10. We also know one or two lecturers, and one or two PhD students; we contacted them directly to spread the word.

That’s it.

Finding more speakers

Social media was all we really used to find speakers. We didn’t have to trawl through the University People directory looking for potentially relevant contact details. Within a few days we had enough speakers for 3-4 events. Within 2-3 weeks we had enough for 16 events.

However, since the initial recruitment period, we have emailed a few departments and PhD supervisors and found several speakers this way too. If you don’t think “social media recruitment” will work for you, you could always try to get the link to your website circulating around universities by emailing departments directly.

And as PubhD is not just a science event, that opens up many more subject areas to recruit speakers from.

If you want to set-up your own PubhD…

If you want to set up a PubhD, please get in touch. We can provide you with the banner and logo graphics in various sizes, offer lots of advice and send you a useful FAQ. There is also a PubhD Organisers Facebook group to exchange ideas and ask questions.

Creating a website

Setting up a website is easy (and free) with, for example, and Examples: and – and of course, this Wordpress PubhD website.

Getting local help and finding a venue

You may want to get in touch with your local Skeptics in the Pub (SitP) group. They will be able to give you some local advice, or perhaps may even want to get involved. These groups exist all over the UK (and internationally) and they already have experience in putting on pub-based speaking events. They will probably know of a suitable venue that you could use for PubhD events. Here is a map of all the SitP locations around the world.

Also check out other pub-based speaking events:

  • Cafe Scientifique
  • PubSci
  • BSA SciBar
  • Pint of Science

One thing to note: city centre locations (as opposed to a pub by a university) are probably the better option if you want to set up a PubhD for “public outreach” reasons, rather than for “research community building”.


We’ve also created a Facebook group, which has proved very useful. The number of people in the group has gradually built up over time and we now have over 400 members. This means that when we create our FB events inside the group, we automatically get to invite all the group members, which is great for getting the punters in. You also get a nice list of all your previous events in one place.

Note that we set the events to “Public”. This means that you don’t need to be in the PubhD FB group to be able to see the event and click “going”. Anyone on FB can indicate that they will be attending, the event can be shared and people can invite their friends.

Also, public events can still be viewed by people that don’t even have a FB logon. We share these FB event links by email and on Twitter with no issues.

Tip: If you click “Edit group Settings” for your Facebook group, you can set “Group Address” to something so that you get a nice URL like rather than something like

Also, passing a link like this around works:

The first PubhD

It’s official. We have our first event all booked up.

We picked 22nd January 2014, emailed our speakers mailing list to see who was available and willing, and within a few hours we had 8 people who wanted to speak. And as all the subject areas sounded fascinating, it wasn’t easy picking just 3 speakers from this list!

In the end we want with an archaeologist, a physicist and a psychologist. We hope this makes for a varied and interesting first PubhD!

So, we have a venue, we have a date and we have three willing speakers. All we have to do is chip in 50p or so to buy the speakers a drink or two.

See you there.

See the Next Event page to find out who our speakers are, and to learn about their subject areas.