Visualise Your Thesis competition

Provider business unit: Researcher Development »

    What is Visualise your Thesis?

    Visualise Your Thesis is a competition created by the University of Melbourne that challenges graduate researchers to present their research in a 60 second, eye-catching digital display. Using a pre-supplied template, entrants are tasked with developing a striking looped presentation to encapsulate their research projects in short, engaging, digital narratives. Competition submissions are judged on their visual impact, and how well the content presents the research. The digital format allows for different levels of creativity, multi-media, interactivity and interpretation and is suitable for all disciplines.

    Why participate in the VYT competition?

    Research pitching skills have become increasingly important for PhD students. You will be called on to pitch your research at conferences, in seminars and for various competitions - but what is pitching and how can you get good at it? The word ‘pitching’ can have bad connotations. Some see it as a commodification of research and researchers.

    ANU VYT timeline 2021:

    • May / June / July: roll out of training program
    • 1 July: VYT submission opens
    • 2 August: VYT submission close 9am
    • 5 August: Judging panel reviews entries and selects our ANU representatives for the final
    • 12 August: ANU Virtual VYT Final - ANU Winner and People’s choice announced
    • 16 August: one on one coaching of the ANU finalist provided by ANU Researcher Development team
    • 1 September: ANU submits finalist ANU Winning VYT to University of Melbourne
    •  October: University of Melbourne National VYT 2021 Final

    This competition is open to candidates at all stages of candidature, including those yet to complete their Thesis Proposal Review (TPR) or confirmation. The winner of the ANU Visualise Your Thesis competition 2021 will go on to compete in the National online showcase hosted by The University of Melbourne in October 2021. Plus there are prizes to win, $2,000 first place, or $500 for people's choice could be yours!


    Winners will be decided on a by an independent judging panel, and the prizes are generously funded by the Dean Higher Degree Research:

    • $2,000 will be awarded to the VYT 2021 winner.
    • $500 will be awarded to the VYT 2021 people's choice.


    Show and Tell – a series of three workshops to assist in the preparation for the Visualise Your Thesis competition
    This series of three workshops will show you how to encapsulate your research in the short, accessible, primarily visual format that is needed for the Visualize Your Thesis competition. However, given that being able to talk about and show your research to literally anyone in any format is rapidly becoming a career essential for any aspiring academic, the workshops will offer valuable information for any researcher.  
    8 June, 11 am | Workshop one: finding the right words
    While your 60 second PowerPoint loop is very much a visual presentation, text will be an important way for you to communicate your message. And, given how few words you will be using, the pressure is really on to get that text right! This first workshop focuses on finding the stories in your research and choosing the right words to tell those stories. It will look at how much text to use and how much text is too much and the balance between writing and editing will be discussed. The workshop will show you how to find the characters in your story (and we are not necessarily talking about people here) and how to bring them to life. And it will look at striking the right balance between text and visuals. 
    9 June, 11am | Workshop two: making it look and sound good
    The visual and audio presentation of your research will be the focus of workshop two. Here you’ll turn into graphic designers and look at fonts, colour schemes, palettes and layout; you’ll become pictorial librarians and think about selecting the right images to tell your story; you’ll be cinematographers and think about inserting live footage and animation; and you’ll throw on your sound production hat and think about music and sound effects. 
    10 June, 11 am | Workshop three: the Allen key moment - putting it all together
    Your Visual Your Thesis presentation must be a cohesive package and tell an engaging and informative story – all within sixty seconds! This last workshop will look at combining all the elements discussed in workshops one and two, satisfying all the rules and technical requirements and wowing the judges. It will also look at all the other uses of your presentation that you can make outside the Visual Your Thesis competition. 
    The Presenter
    Simon Clews was lucky enough to join the founders of the Visualise Your Thesis competition in the early days and has watched the competition blossom and grow into something really special in a very short period of time. He spends his days encouraging, training and motivating researchers to communicate their research in engaging, accessible and entertaining ways and is a big fan of both Visualise Your Thesis and the Three Minute Thesis competition. He is the author of The New Academic (NewSouth Books, out on May 1) and Your Time Starts Now!, a guide to achieving success in the Three Minute Thesis competition (forthcoming from Thesis Whisperer Books). 

    16-18 June | Expert Communicator Boot Camp

    Over three days candidates will learn how to write and present to an audience what their research is and why it is important. If you are keen to improve your interpersonal communication and be more persuasive and confident when giving speeches – we have set the stage for you to achieve your personal and professional goals in a safe and supportive environment.


    The Visualise Your Thesis competition is for currently-enrolled and attending graduate researchers at ANU. Graduate researchers are enrolled in:

    • M.Phil.,
    • Masters by Research,
    • Ph.D.

    Candidates can be at any stage of their candidature, but must be active and attending (not on leave of absence).

    Not eligible to enter the competition are: Honours students; Masters by coursework students (even if their program has a research/thesis component); or Graduate researchers on a leave of absence.

    Graduate researchers affiliated with multiple institutions may only enter one local competition per year.

    Entries should be unique and original. The re-submission of previous entries is only permitted where substantial revision has occurred.

    Technical instructions for competitors

    How to submit your Visualise Your Thesis submission

    1. Save a copy of the PowerPoint file. Only .pptx files will be accepted
    2. Submit your entry by 9am 2 August 2021 to the VYT Submissions Folder. Late submissions will not be accepted.
    3. Email Researcher Development to confirm your entry, we will respond that we have received your submission successfully.

    How to use the Visualise Your Thesis template
    Download the Visualise Your Thesis PowerPoint template to your computer, delete the text, images and video in the template and add your own content.

    You may add additional slides to the template, however:
    • Your presentation (excl. bookend slides) will be displayed for at most 60 seconds, and
    • The maximum file size allowed is 100 MB. Your entry will be displayed using ANU property.
    Please test your entry before completing it. To test your entry, view your PowerPoint slideshow on a computer at the university that has standard software installed, such as on any student computer in a that you need to log in to. 

    Tips for creating your Visualise Your Thesis entry
    Replace the text in the template by typing or pasting in your own text. Remove the images in the template and add your own images to support your descriptions such as data visualisations, graphs, an infographic, tables, or photos.

    Be creative and change the layout, text boxes, colours and fonts, or you might animate text or objects, just make sure you:

    • Do not change the layout, design, or colours of the bookend slides, being the title slide and the references slide (i.e. the first and last slides)
    • Do not use a body text font size smaller than 14 pt
    • Do not change the Page Setup in PowerPoint (your ePoster will be displayed on a screen in widescreen format)
    • Include the required information on the poster as specified in the template: Introduction, Research Significance, Method, Results, Conclusion, however note that:
    -You may include this information in the form of text, images, video and/or audio
    - If you use text, you can modify the headings in the template to suit your project, for example: ‘Background’ instead of ‘Introduction’, ‘Approach’ instead of ‘Method’, or ‘Implications’ instead of ‘Conclusion' 
    - Depending on the stage of your project, you may not have results or a conclusion yet, however you can state this and include any information or ideas you have at this stage
    - Consider copyright, particularly when adding images, audio or video to your poster, see the advice on the ANU copyright rules.
    • Include a valid Twitter handle or Instagram handle: people will be encouraged to tweet to poster authors with questions and comments, and to post photos of the awards event

    Set your slides to advance automatically in PowerPoint:
    1. Select the Transitions tab.
    2. Tick the After checkbox.
    3. Enter the number of seconds you wish to display the slide for, or edit the current slide timings. For further instructions, see: Set the speed and timing of transitions.
    Note: your PowerPoint presentation (excl. bookend slides) should display for a maximum total time of 60 seconds.

    Submission checklist for competitors
    1. VYT Submission in PowerPoint file .pptx format?
    2. Presentation (excl. bookend slides) displays for no more than 60 seconds?
    3. Slides set to advance automatically in PowerPoint?
    4. PowerPoint file size no more than 100 MB?
    5. No embedded online videos, such as YouTube or Vimeo videos or similar?
    6. No separate media files: i.e. all media embedded in the PowerPoint file?
    7. All video and audio starts automatically and loops continuously?
    8. All video and audio is optimised and compressed?
    9. First slide and last slide from template included, i.e. the title slide and references slide?
    10. References included for any resources used to create your entry?
    11. Acknowledgements included for people, or groups, who helped with your project or entry?
    12. Citations included for any media used or created, including images, audio and video files? Know your rights, find out more here.
    13. Does the use of media, including images, audio and video files, comply with copyright legislation and regulations?
    14. Text font size no smaller than 14 pt?
    15. Page setup in PowerPoint the same as for the template? (i.e. page setup not changed?)
    16. Required information included on the poster as specified in the template: Introduction, Research Significance, Method, Results, Conclusion?
    17. Text on the entry proof-read?
    18. Valid Twitter/Instagram handle and ORCiD included on title slide? More information about ORCiD, can be found here.


    Previous VYT winners

    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


    For more information please contact Victoria Firth-Smith on