Linghentian Doctorials 2019: afterthoughts

The third edition of the Linghentian Doctorials took place from the 18th till the 19th of December. As described in this earlier blogpost, the event is organised by and for PhD students at Ghent University. It’s a safe space in which early career researchers can present their (preliminary) findings and receive feedback from their peers. Linghentian Doctorials is also unique in how it connects researchers from the linguistics department, from the the department of ‘translation, interpreting and communication’ and from the languages and cultures department. In order to give you an idea of how the MULTIPLES members experienced the conference, I compiled some testimonials.

First up are Haiyan and Ella, for whom it was the first time presenting at an academic conference and who were brave enough to participate only a couple of months after starting their PhD. Their testimonials are remarkably similar, as both reflect about their initial hesitation and the satisfaction they felt afterwards.

It was my first time formally presenting in a conference. The participation benefitted me in many ways. To be honest,  one week before the conference I was very stressed as I just started my PhD two months ago and I was struggling with linking my findings to the relevant theories. How could I present in a conference if I myself was still not sure what I wanted to say? But I was lucky. I talked to my colleague, Nicolas, who is a post-doc and he kindly gave me many helpful suggestions. Apart from my concern about not preparing well enough, I was also nervous about possible feedback from the audience. As I have not presented in a conference before, I thought the audience would give very critical and sharp comments, which to some extent frightens me.

During the first day of the conference, I could sit back and relax, as I was only presenting on the second day. This experience calmed my nerves, as I saw that attendants were very respectful. They always listened to the presentation very carefully and gave new perspectives. After my own presentation, on the second day, I, indeed, received many questions and all of them were very exciting and helpful. The in depth comments and input was definitely beneficial to my research, but next to that, it also thrilled me at a personal level.


As a PhD student who started only very recently, I was highly insecure about participating in the LinGhentian doctorials. What could I possibly talk about? Fortunately, I am surrounded by the most enthusiastic colleagues ever, and they convinced me to take part in this conference, since they had such a good experience from the previous edition. And I must say: I have no regrets, except for my doubtfulness to participate.

Instead of presenting research findings and conclusions, it is also perfectly fine to present your research plan at the LinGhentian doctorials. So that is exactly what I did, and it has proved to be extremely valuable for me. Since the moment I decided to submit my abstract for this conference, I have taken quite a few important steps forward in my research project. Knowing I was going to speak about my research in front of an audience, enabled me to identify the missing links in my research design and to put some thought into possible issues regarding data collection, data analysis, positionality, and so on.

Looking back at this edition of the LinGhentian doctorials, I feel absolutely ready for the next phase in my PhD. Right after my presentation, I felt energized by the audience’s questions and remarks on my research, and doing the presentation was actually quite a thrill. If I am really honest, I am already looking forward to presenting at my first large-scale conference.

Besides all of this, I also got to meet peers who I would otherwise not so easily get in touch with. Getting to know these colleagues and learn more about their research, made me realise how lucky I am to be a part of this community of incredibly motivated language lovers. For all future PhD fellows who are in doubt about participating in the 2020 edition because they have just started and feel like it’s ‘too soon’, I only have one message: submit that abstract and thank me later!


Next up is Greet, who did not give a presentation but who arranged something else instead…

The organizing committee of the LinGhentian Doctorials asked me to give a workshop instead of a presentation on my research. Fantastic! After the first day of consuming presentations, the participants, all fellow PhD researchers, moved to an open space. Camelot, what’s in a name, easily seated forty people. Chairs and tables pushed aside, the room suddenly accommodated ten people, taking their first steps into the Japanese martial art of aikido. The makeshift dojo taught us this:

  • Japanese | How to greet to each other.
  • Martial art | How to be an attackee and an attacker.
  • Aikido | How to do a four step technique.

The Linghentian Doctorial participants learned so fast, that they even did a miniature randori, i.e. how to deal with multiple attackers. In order to link the principles taught in the aikido workshop to research about intercultural communication, the participants answered two questions:

Why is aikido called the martial art of peace? Everyone agreed that in aikido you learn how to avoid being harmed by the attacker and how to give the attacker the opportunity to change their mind and end their attack peacefully.

What principles can you derive from aikido? Each participant had an answer: engage to not hurt instead of the basic instinct reactions such as fight or flight, think outside of the box, do not be afraid of a confrontation, exert calmness and respect each other.

I definitely enjoyed the workshop format, but I have to admit I also look forward to the next edition of the LinGhentian Doctorials, in which I will present the findings of my benchmarking study: expert interviews and a survey will show which aikido principles are relevant for aikido-based intercultural communication training.

Greet and Mieke

And lastly, I pass the microphone to Mathijs, who was part of the organizing committee, and who reflects upon the process of organizing a conference and who kindly takes a moment to thank the conference audience – so if you’re reading this and you were there: take the compliments!

This was my first time co-organizing the LinGhentian Doctorials, and what an experience it has been. It’s safe to say that this year’s edition was nothing short of a resounding success, and that is not in the least due to our passionate presenters and articulate audience. As organizers, we would be nothing without the heartwarmingly rich input of our fellow PhD students; it’s only by virtue of their enthusiasm that we were able to fill a two-day program to the brim with thought-provoking, mind-boggling and horizon-expanding presentations.

If I rely on the feedback and interactions I had with both presenters and attendees, I am thoroughly convinced that we managed to succeed in our main goal, which was to create a low-threshold, welcoming and intellectually stimulating environment in which each and every PhD student – whichever stage of their research they might be at – felt comfortable presenting their work to an audience of – mainly – their peers.

That is not to say that there weren’t any discussions – how would academia’s young blood thrive without them, right? – but it genuinely felt like all critical questions came from a place of heartfelt curiosity, rather than leery animosity. That objective was of the utmost importance for us to achieve, as we explicitly welcomed students who had only recently embarked on their PhD journey as well, who might have felt a tad intimidated in a more unreceptive environment.

Not to blow our own trumpet as organizers – but we do believe that events like LinGhentian Doctorials carry within them the power to create a strong and thriving community of Linguistics PhD students at Ghent University, who, though they all come from different backgrounds and work towards different goals, have this one thing in common, which is a fiery, contagious passion for language and linguistics. On to the 2020 edition!

The 2019 LinGhentian Doctorials organizers: Thomas, Elisa, Aaricia and Mathijs

Thank you, Aaricia, for the lovely pictures


  1. Hello, I am not a linguist but I am interested in the aikido presentation. Is it possible to get some more information as I do Aikido? Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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