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Three Minute Thesis®

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a competition for research master’s and doctoral students to develop and showcase their research communication skills.

The first 3MT was held at The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008 with 160 graduate students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its adoption by numerous universities led to the development of an international competition in 2010. Today students from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong take part in their own regional and national events.

Cornell’s third annual 3MT final round competition will be held on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 4:00 in Biotech G10. 3MT challenges PhD students to present a compelling oration on their dissertation or thesis and its significance in just three minutes, in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Students will begin preliminary rounds in February 2017. In addition to first place ($1,500) and second place ($1,000) winners from among the eight finalists, audience members on March 15 will be asked to select a People’s Choice Award ($500). (So ask your friends and colleagues to attend and provide support!)

To request more information or to pre-register, sign up here.

Judging Criteria

Each of the three judging criteria has equal weight. Note what each criterion has in common: An emphasis on audience.

Comprehension

  • 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?

Engagement

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize the research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for the research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain the audience’s attention?

Communication style

  • 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 speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of the presentation – or did he/she elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?

Rules

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any kind; 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 (i.e. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when presenters start their presentation through movement or speech. Read about
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

3MT Resources

  • Watch videos of finalists from Cornell's 2015 3MT contest here
  • Watch videos of winning presentations from around the world are here.
  • Read about 3MT competitions here.

For more information about the Cornell competition, contact Jan Allen (Jan.Allen@cornell.edu).