Three minutes and not a second more (Kelly Farrell and Jason Murphy)

Jen Wiltshire. 2015 La Trobe Competition winner.
A graduate researcher with a story to tell. An audience primed to hear it. Three minutes and not a second more.

One of the University’s premiere research events, the Three Minute Thesis® (3MT®) is on again in 2016!

Started by the University of Queensland in 2008, this unique competition asks graduate researchers to flex their research communication muscles and present a clear and engaging account of their thesis to a non-specialised audience.

No jargon. No disciplinary double-dutch. And all in under three minutes.

The College of Science, Health and Engineering (SHE) School events will start taking place across May, June and July, leading up to the SHE College Final on 9 August 2016.

In the College of Arts, Social Science and Commerce (ASSC), those ready to challenge themselves will compete in competitions at the College level with the ASSC Final taking place on 17 August 2016.

And date-save the University Championship that's taking place on 7 September 2016!

During this build up, everyone will have the opportunity to participate in research communication and 3MT® workshops run by the Research Education and Development (RED) team, whether or not you are taking part in the competition. You can stay up to date with when these take place through the Graduate Research Scholar newsletter and the RED team’s workshops page.

One of the best things about 3MT® is the spirit in which it is run. Audiences are rooting for the competitors, colleagues are encouraging of each other and the competition makes a significant contribution to the intellectual climate at La Trobe. It’s an invaluable opportunity to get your research in front of academic staff you may not ordinarily come into contact with, not to mention a Head of School or a Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) or two!

If you're thinking of challenging yourself this year, and aiming to pick up a handy research-support prize along the way, you may have some questions.

Here are a couple of the most frequently asked:

Can I only go in 3MT® once during my candidature? 
No way! Many of our La Trobe Championship finalists get through on their second or third attempt. Each time, they learn a bit more about the best way to present their research to those who have no idea about it. So, make like Leonardo di Caprio, who won his Oscar on his fifth nomination. Even if you’ve had a crack before, get back in there. One year on, you’re likely to have more results and/or analysis to add meat to your 3MT® bones, and more experience in talking about your research and what gets people interested and excited about it.

Isn’t 3MT® just for the scientists?
If you believe this then you’ve clearly never heard Edwina Kay’s (Winner, ASSC College Final 2015) compelling account of why the history of the built environment of Abbotsford convent reveals - among other things - so much about Australia’s contemporary refugee policies and practices. Today, perhaps more than ever, it’s critical that humanities, creative arts and social science researchers are able to present a water-tight case for why their research is significant and critical to solving the world’s big problems and, therefore, should be funded and supported.

Full details about 3MT® are available on the RED website, including videos of the 2013 - 2015 La Trobe Championship finals.


Kelly Farrell is a lecturer in the Research Education and Development (RED) team, located in La Trobe's Graduate Research School.

Kelly was previously at the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne where she designed and delivered professional development programs and resources for academic staff and graduate researchers, and made contributions to research and policy development in higher education practice (particularly in the area of peer review of teaching, in which she maintains a keen interest).

She also has a background in graduate researcher support and was a student advisor/advocate at the University of Melbourne Postgraduate Association from 2000-2003.

Jason Murphy is Senior Research Communications Advisor at the Graduate Research School (GRS).

Jason's role in the GRS involves communicating to La Trobe's research community of graduate researchers and their supervisors. He produces content and helps to manage the GRS website, social media presence, newsletters and print-based media.

When he's not working full time, he's working on his own PhD project which critically examines the role of marketing in contemporary society.