3MT: The Three Minute Thesis Competition

Provider business unit: Researcher Development »

    What is Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

    The Three Minute Thesis is an international competition for higher degree research candidates to showcase their research. Candidates present to an audience on what their research is and why it is important in plain language for three minutes, with only a single PowerPoint slide. The winner of the #ANU3MT final will go on to compete in the Asia Pacific final, held at the University of Queensland. ANU has achieved incredible success with the 3MT competition. In 2019, Lithin Louis from the John Curtin School of Medical Research won silver in the 3MT Asia Pacific final in Brisbane, in 2016 Joshua Chu-Tan from the John Curtin School of Medical Research won the 3MT Asia Pacific final in Brisbane and in 2014, Rosanna Stevens from the College of Arts and Social Sciences won second place and people's choice in the trans-Tasman final at the University of Western Australia. The ANU also hosts the largest final in the world, with over 1,000 annually attend to hear how our PhD candidates are changing the world around them.

    Why participate in the 3MT?

    The 3MT provides the opportunity for candidates to develop presentation skills that are crucial for a successful career post PhD, inside and outside of academia. If you are curious about the 3MT and developing your presentation skills, come along to the training on offer. There is no expectation on you to compete; we are keen for everyone to develop their skills and confidence with presenting research. Please note, only enrolled ANU HDR candidates may participate in the ANU 3MT Final.

    ANU 3MT timeline 2020:

    • May / June / July: roll out of revised training program
    • 3 August: video submission opens
    • 17 August: video submission closes at 9am
    • 19 August: ANU semi final to select 10 ANU 3MT virtual finalists
    • 24 August: ANU 3MT virtual finalists are announced 
    • 4 September: ANU Virtual 3MT Final public event - ANU Winner and People’s choice announced
    • 8 September: one on one coaching of the ANU finalist provided by ANU research training, including a professional filming session
    • 17 September: ANU submits finalist ANU Winning 3MT video to UQ
    • 1 October: UQ Asia Pacific Virtual 3MT Final - details to come

    Virtual 3 Minute Thesis submission instructions

    1. Ensure your submission meets all of the ANU Virtual 3MT Rules listed below.
    2. Ensure your 3 Minute Thesis Video includes your 3MT slide and title slides with your Name, 3MT title and research school. A template for the slide is here.
    3. Submit your entry by 9am 17 August 2020 to the ANU 3MT Submissions Folder. Late submissions will not be accepted.
    4. Email Researcher Development to confirm your entry, we will respond that we have received your submission successfully


    29 April | How to win the 3 Minute Thesis competition
    5 May | Influencing people with your research: good communication principles
    3 June | RSES HDR: Developing effective posters
    11 June | Visual design basics for academic purposes
    16 June | Visual storytelling: Using semiotic principles and creative thinking
    16 June | Influencing others with your research 
    23 June| Creative approaches to reporting on research
    25 June | Branding for Academics
    30 June | Conference poster production using PowerPoint webinar
    30 June | Creative approaches to presenting research findings
    1 July | Communicating confidently through the screen 
    7 July | Portrayals of Research – National Portrait Gallery virtual tour
    8 July | How to get your research in the media 
    9 July | Design and Develop your Digital Display with PPT and Powtoon webinar
    15 July | How to win the ANU 3MT
    17 July | Influencing others with your research 
    21 July | Sharing research stories – National Portrait Gallery virtual tour
    22 July | Winning top tips for the ANU 3MT


      University of Queensland Virtual competition information

      Resources for Competitors

      How-to videos

      Slide presentation and infographic

      Free images

      PowerPoint and design help

      Video recording

      • One Button Studio, an easy-to-use video recording facility located on Level 4 of Chifley Library
      • Adobe Spark is a free web-based video creation tool. You can create simple videos incorporating images, text and voiceover
      • Zoom is primarily a video conferencing tool, you can use Zoom to easily record videos of yourself or your computer screen
      • Movie Maker is a video and slideshow maker app available for Windows computers
      • iMovie is a free video creation tool for Mac computers and mobiles

      3MT 2020 Finals

      ANU final

      The #ANU3MT ANU Final will be held virtually, 4 September: ANU Virtual 3MT Final - ANU Winner and People’s choice announced.

      • $5,000 to the winner of the ANU virtual final.
      • $2,500 prize for the winner of the virtual people’s choice.

      UQ Asia-Pacific Final

      The 2020 Virtual Asia-Pacific 3MT Final will be held on Thursday 1 October and will bring together video submissions from 3MT finalists from across Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, North-East Asia and South-East Asia. Details coming soon! We thank the Dean of Higher Degree Research for providing the research support grant funding for the ANU finals.

      ANU Eligibility

      Active ANU PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their Submission of thesis proposal for review (TPR; including candidates whose thesis is under submission) are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels, including the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.

      MPhil and pre-TPR PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who are active in program are eligible to participate in the ANU 3MT competition up to and including the College finals but cannot advance to the ANU 3MT final.

      In 2018, a new rule was created to ensure fairness in the competition. ANU 3MT finalists are ineligible for any further competitions, at the school or college level. Instead, we encourage their participation and involvement as role models and ambassadors. Candidates that have participated in a school or college level and have not continued on to the ANU Final are welcome and encouraged to participate at the school or college level again.

      ANU Virtual 3MT Rules

      • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
      • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech (timing does not include the 3MT title slide and commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video).
      • Videos must feature the HDR candidate presenting to camera and meet the following criteria:
        • Filmed on the horizontal;
        • Filmed on a plain background;
        • Filmed from a static position;
        • Filmed from one camera angle;
        • Contain a 3MT title slide;
        • Contain a 3MT PowerPoint slide (top right corner/right side/cut to) this does not need to be displayed the entire presentation
      • A single static slide is permitted in the presentation (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description). This can be visible continuously, or ‘cut to’ (as many times as you like) for a maximum of 1 minute or submitted via email if not included in the presentation.
      • The 3 minute audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks.
      • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment and animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.
      • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
      • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.
      • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
      • Submissions via video format. Files sent in other formats will not be accepted.
      • Please note: competitors *will not* be judged on video/ recording quality or editing capabilities (optional inclusions). Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide.

      Judging criteria

      At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

      Comprehension & 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 & 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?

      Past #ANU3MT Final Videos