The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a skills development activity that challenges Higher Degree by Research students to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.
3MT® celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
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 multinational event was developed, and the Inaugural TransTasman 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 170 universities across more than 18 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 brings an expansion of the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition to include a select number of Asian universities. The competition has now been renamed to the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition.
Find out more
You can visit the Three Minute Thesis website to find out more information, or take a look at the information specific to the University below:
To be eligible for the Three Minute Thesis competition, you must make sure you meet either of the following requirements:
Active PhD candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone by the date of their first presentation (including thesis under submission) are eligible to participate in all levels of the 3MT competition, including the 3MT® Trans-Tasman Competition. Graduates are not eligible.
Professional Doctorate by Research candidates (a program composed of at least 2/3 research) who are funded via the Research Training Program are eligible. Professional Doctorate (coursework) students will not be eligible. Masters students will not be eligible for the 3MT® Trans-Tasman Competition.
MPhil and pre-confirmation PhD candidates can't go through to University finals, but are encouraged to join in and be part of the fun at Faculty level.
The following rules and judging criteria apply to the Three Minute Thesis competition.
- A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
- No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
- No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
- Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
- Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
- Presentations are to commence from the stage.
- Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
- The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.
Comprehension and content
- Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance? - Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes? - Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
- Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
- Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
- Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
Engagement and communication
- Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
- Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise their research?
- Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
- Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
- Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
- Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?