College of Graduate Studies

About Three Minute Thesis (3MT®)

what is 3mt®?

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students around the world. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), the competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. Presenting in a 3MT® competition increases their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. Competitors are allowed one PowerPoint slide, but no other resources or props. 

watch 3MT® presentations from around the world on vimeo

history

The idea for the 3MT® competition came about at a time when the state of Queensland was suffering severe drought. To conserve water, residents were encouraged to time their showers, and many people had a three minute egg timer fixed to the wall in their bathroom. The then Dean of the UQ Graduate School, Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson, put two and two together and the idea for the 3MT® competition was born. The first 3MT® competition was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 Research Higher Degree students competing. In 2009 and 2010 the 3MT® competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multi-national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT® competition was held at UQ in 2010. Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT® competitions are now held in over 600 universities and institutions across 63 countries worldwide. In November 2013, the first Universitas 21 (U21) 3MT® competition was held with several universities from around the world competing in a virtual competition. 2016 brought an expansion of the Trans-Tasman 3MT® competition to include a select number of Asian universities. The competition is now called the Asia-Pacific 3MT® competition.

 

what are the benefits of participating in 3mt®?

Read what recent winners from other universities had to say about their participation as well as view their winning presentations

June Brawner, University of georgia,  2016 runner-up (presentation at 13:15)

“As budding researchers, we spend so much time envisioning our academic contributions that we sometimes lose sight of the broader picture, the context of our studies, and why they matter to all audiences (not just academia!) The 3MT® competition creates a space for translating the relevance of our research across fields and to the public – while reminding us of that relevance, too. It brings us, as communicators, back to that initial spark of contagious curiosity and passion that drives our research agendas, and provides a venue for spreading that excitement.”

andrew fialka, university of georgia, 2015 winner (presentation at 10:55)

“In a practical sense, the 3MT® competition successfully bridges the gap between academia and the public, an enormously beneficial task considering today’s surging population and exponential growth of information sharing. Furthermore, it does so while requiring only a short time commitment and boasting huge cash prizes. I cannot think of a less-intimidating or more-rewarding atmosphere to acquire the necessary skills which maximize the effectiveness and applicability of my research”

gilbert castillo, North carolina state university, 2016 winner

"It's very important to be able to explain your research in 3 minutes in a way that is easy to understand and conveys the general goal of your project. Whether you are explaining it to the general public or your boss. Being able to talk about my research in a few minutes has been very helpful for job interviews as well."

claire bowen, notre dame, 2016 people's choice Winner

Claire has years of volunteer experience demonstrating science concepts to K - 12 students, and she has an interest in educating and communicating with others. “My motivation to conduct research in data privacy stems from my interests in education research. After graduate school, I plan to find a role where I can implement a different approach to education by determining new and better teaching methods when addressing shared data.”

erin macri, University of british columbia-Vancouver, 2014 runner-up and people's choice winner

“Preparing for and participating in the 3MT® competition was an incredible chance to develop my presentation skills and my research ‘pitch’. I had the opportunity to think very carefully about the ‘big picture’ aspect of my research. Through practicing my presentation with people of diverse educational backgrounds, I learned how people received the information I was offering, which terminology was not understood by a broad audience, and which points people found interesting or not. Considering those who review manuscripts or applications for funding are often non-specialized, it gave me a great perspective on how to approach manuscript writing and project proposals. In addition, I now have a 3 minute video about my research that I can send to potential study participants and funding bodies alike. This is an incredible opportunity for self-reflection, learning and growth. You will never have an opportunity like this anywhere else to practice such a honed presentation.”

why is the university of toledo hosting a 3mt® competition?

Supporting skills development for graduate students in research, scholarship, and creative endeavors
The exercise develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills, while emphasizing students’ ability to explain their research effectively in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Building a cross-disciplinary research culture throughout the campus that supports excellence
3MT® provides a valuable opportunity for students to come together across disciplinary boundaries, get to know one another, and talk about their research. It also provides a supportive environment in which academic programs and the campus at large can provide presentation skills training and feedback.

Building and enhancing external relations for the university and graduate studies
3MT® winners may go on to represent their university at other levels of competition, which provides an excellent networking and professional development opportunity. Previous 3MT® finalists from other institutions have benefited from invitations to a variety of other networking events following their participation in the competition.

 

Last Updated: 3/9/20