Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an annual competition established and developed by the University of Queensland in 2008. The competition is now held in over 350 universities worldwide, and candidates can take part during any stage of their postgraduate research.
The average PhD thesis is around 80,000 words, and this would take over nine hours to read. However, participants in the competition have just three minutes in which to explain their research and its importance to a non-specialist audience, using a single PowerPoint Slide. Props and costumes, or delivering their presentations via rap and interpretive dance are not permitted. The competition is a valuable experience, allowing PGRs the opportunity to hone their presenting skills, though there are prizes on offer too. The overall winner receives a £1000 travel grant and the runner-up a £500 travel grant. The audience at the Final also vote to select a People’s Choice winner, who receives a £100 Waterstones voucher.
So how does it all work? First, participants compete against other researchers within their respective colleges in the four college heats. A winner and two runners up from each heat then go through to the grand final. You can find out more by checking out our original 3MT blog post, and watch this year’s heats, as well as videos from previous competitions.
This year’s Grand Final took place on Friday 17th March in the Senate Room. The 12 finalists spoke on a wide range of subjects, from contemporary science fiction cinema to iodine insufficiency during pregnancy, the history of English, and 3D printing. This year’s judging panel comprised of Kevin O’Dell, Dean of Public Engagement; Francine Mills, Science Engagement Manager of the Glasgow Science Centre; The Hunterian’s Ruth Fletcher; and Ameer Ibrahim, SRC President 2016-2017. The standard of presentations was exceptionally high, and the judges had some difficult decisions to make! In the end, Hannah Martin of MVLS was awarded first prize for her “clean and crisp” presentation, ‘Acting FAST to cure stroke’, whilst Jade Halbert took the runner up prize for confidently delivering her research on fashion designer Marion Donaldson. The People’s Choice award went to Scott Jess, who entertained both the judges and the audience with an uncanny impersonation of Donald Trump during his presentation, ‘Why is Greenland so high?’
We caught up with Hannah, Jade and Scott after the competition to ask them about their 3MT experiences. Here’s what they had to say:
PGR Blog: How did you prepare for the competition?
Hannah: How did I prepare? LOTS of practice, and asking others what bits seemed unnecessary so I could cut it down to three minutes. Lots of things I thought were important turned out to not be so interesting to a non-scientific audience!
Jade: I prepared by rehearsing my talk until I thought it was as good as it would ever be, then I recorded it on my phone and listened to it while walking the dog—that was actually really helpful, sort of memorising it by osmosis! On the day I just had to trust that I knew it by heart and that my timings were accurate.
Scott: I prepared for the contest about a week in advance writing out a primitive script based on some ideas. I then practised the script again and again, to make it sound more natural and easy to follow. Once I had a script I was happy with a practised it every day for about an hour until it sounded natural and committed to memory.
PGR Blog: Would you recommend 3MT to other PGRs?
Hannah: I’d definitely recommend taking part – it’s a great skill to be able to identify the main points on your thesis and to explain these in a simple way.
Jade: I would definitely recommend entering. I was encouraged by my supervisors, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have, but loved meeting other researchers and it was good fun.
Scott: Everyone should give the competition a try. It forces you to think about your research in a wider context and helps to improve your presentation style, which is beneficial for anyone wanting to take their research further.
PGR Blog: How do you plan to use your prize?
Hannah: No plans yet for my prize—I haven’t been to a big international conference yet though so I’m hoping this will make it easier for me to get to one!
Jade: I’m planning to use the money to visit the Liberty archives in London to do some research for a post-thesis article.
Scott: The prize will be used to buy some of the more expensive research books I need and are difficult to get.
Congratulations Hannah, Jade, and Scott!
Think that you can condense your research into three minutes? Start preparing now—3MT will return in 2018! For more information and tips on taking part in 3MT read our post “Timers at the ready-Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is back at UofG for 2017”