This is a guest blog post written by Cia Jackson who is conducting an internship with the Research Strategy and Innovation Office at the University of Glasgow. Here she gives the lowdown on all there is to know about the 3 Minute Thesis Competition and how you can get involved.
What is 3MT?
The 3MT is an academic competition which challenges research students to describe their research to a general audience within three minutes. It is a fantastic opportunity for researchers to practice their public engagement skills and increase their confidence.
3MT was developed by the University of Queensland, and the first competition was held in 2008. Since then, 3MT has grown in popularity, with over 350 universities across more than 18 countries worldwide participating.
How does it work?
An 80,000 word thesis would take up to nine hours to present. Participants of 3MT have just three minutes to verbally present their research with related content on one PowerPoint Slide.
Participants should explain:
- What their research is about
- How they intend to carry out their research
- Why their research matters or/and who it affects.
Heats take place in each of the four colleges, and one winner and two runners-up from each of the four heats then go through to the Grand Final.
Why should I take part?
Why wouldn’t you? As a researcher, you should be able to explain your research. 3MT gives you the opportunity to consider what you’re doing and create a thoughtful narrative about it, which you’re likely to use for the rest of your life. Plus, you’ll be able to hone your presentation skills in the process.
Not only will you gain valuable experience, but there are also prizes! The winners and runners-up from the college heats will win a small prize, and everyone who takes part receives a certificate. The overall winner of the competition wins a £1000 travel/research grant, while the runner up wins £500, again for travel/research purposes. The audience also votes for its favourite presentation so that one finalist receives a People’s Choice Award of a £100 book voucher. There is also a Spirit of Engagement Award for the school with the most participants.
Jamie Gallagher is the UofG Public Engagement Officer, and the 2013 winner of the University of Glasgow 3MT Competition. He provided the following advice for potential participants:
- Provide a narrative
Tell a story with your presentation. Start by describing the “big picture”- it
could be a problem, or a gap in knowledge within your subject area or field. Talk about how this can be solved, and why doing so is beneficial. Next, move onto the smaller scale, and how your research is contributing to this bigger picture.
- Show your enthusiasm and personal connection to your research
Phrases such as ‘I do’, ‘I learnt’, and similar can be particularly effective when demonstrating your personal connection to both your research, and the wider surrounding issues.
- Stimulate, share, and connect
Try to identify how you might relate your research to a non-specialist audience and their experiences. Consider whether your audience might be personally affected, or perhaps connected to someone affected by the issues your research addresses. Your aim isn’t to turn your audience into experts, but to spark their curiosity and encourage discussion.
- Consider how your slide is best used
Judges’ opinions are often split when it comes to the PowerPoint slides; however, try to choose an image which enhances your presentation. Something which sets the scene and works as a backdrop can be quite effective, whilst some technical images can be distracting or confusing for a non-specialist audience.
Thinking about entering?
More information- as well as a video in which Jamie explains why 3MT is a great opportunity- can be found here, as well as on the official 3MT website.
An information session will also be held in the Gilchrist Postgraduate Club seminar room on Monday 6th February 2-3pm. If you’re feeling eager, you can sign up as a participant or audience member for the College Heats here.