Three Minute Thesis Competition

3MT-logo

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) challenges PhD students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just 3 minutes, in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. 3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or ‘dumbing-down’ research but forces students to consolidate their ideas and crystallize their research discoveries.

Any currently enrolled CMU PhD candidate may sign up to compete.

  • Sign up to compete by January 18th
  • Qualifying rounds will be held January – March in the Posner Center
  • Finals/Championship round will be held in April in the McConomy Auditorium

Winners in the qualifying rounds will receive an iPad or the equivalent value as a research/travel grant. Championship winners in April will receive $3000, $2000 and $1000 research/travel grants.

Watch the 2014 finalists  

2014 Winners

Judging Criteria | Rules | 3MT Resources

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 their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their 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 their presentation – or did they 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 description; 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 a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

3MT Resources

Other US universities participating include

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 events.

Dean of Libraries Keith Webster, who brought the 3MT challenge to Pittsburgh from Queensland in 2013-14, has every expectation that CMU students will continue to embrace the concept and provide the momentum to join regional and international 3MT competition in the future.