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:

3 thoughts on “How to set-up a PubhD (and get some speakers)

  1. Pingback: SKEPTICAMP 2015 | I Am A Science Lady

  2. Pingback: PubhD em Guimarães, Braga, Norwich e Birmingham – ~ PubhD de Lisboa ~

  3. Pingback: Jornal Público dedica duas páginas às iniciativas PubhD em Portugal – ~ PubhD de Lisboa ~

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