Three Minute Thesis

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

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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 looks forward to its 6th 3MT competition in Spring 2021. 3MT challenges research degree students to present a compelling story on their dissertation or thesis and its significance in just three minutes, in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

In addition to first place and second place winners from among the 10 finalists, audience members are asked to select a People’s Choice Award.

3MT Resources

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 three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three 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.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

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?

For more information about the Cornell competition, contact Jan Allen (Jan.Allen@cornell.edu) or grad3mt@cornell.edu.