Western Graduate & Postdoctoral  Studies

3MT - Three Minute Thesis

Western University, Graduate Studies - 3MT

3MT (Three Minute Thesis) is a research communication competition where graduate students have 3 minutes or less to present their research and its impact to a panel of non-specialist judges and peers. The exercise develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students' capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience.

The competition was developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. The first 3MT was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 graduate students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its adoption in numerous universities led to the development of an international competition in 2010. Western University was one of the first Canadian universities to host a 3MT competition in April, 2012.

This fun and challenging academic competition is an excellent opportunitiy for graduate students to improve their communication skills. Whether it be networking, a job application, research opportunity or scholarship application, the ability to effectively communicate complex research and its impact using open language is a valuable skill set.

2014 Winners

Congratulations to all participants!

1st Place: Joseph Donohue - Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

2nd Place: Joshua Lee - Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

3rd Place: Sean Miletic - Biology

People’s Choice Award: Oluwakemi Ola - Computer Science

2014 Schedule

Preliminary Heats

Preliminary heats will be hosted by each Faculty. Please register under your corresponding Faculty. The deadline to register is Wednesday, March 26 when your slide is due.

FacultyDateRegistrationFaculty Contact

Arts and Humanities, Education, Music, Media and Information Studies

Tues., April 1
UC 84

A&H - Register
Edu - Register
Music - Register
FIMS - Register
A&H - Mark McDayter
Edu - Karen Kueneman
Music - Catherine Nolan
FIMS - Pam McKenzie


Fri., April 4
Wind Tunnel Conference Rm


Sue Bedford

Health Sciences

Tues., April 1
Elborn 1330


Jan Polgar

Ivey School of Business

Mon., March 31
Ivey 2120


Anna Potrawiak


Mon., March 10
Moot Court Rm


Randal Graham

Schulich Medicine & Dentistry

Wed., April 2
MSB 148


Janelle Cobban


Fri., April 4
NCB 114


Stephanie Attardi

Social Science

Fri., April 4
SSC 9420


Margaret McGlynn

Western 3MT Finals and Reception Dinner

The top 20 students from all preliminary heats will present in the finals on Thursday, April 10 from 3:00-4:30pm in the Davenport Theatre, Talbot College. A dinner reception for all 3MT participants will follow at the Grad Club (Middlesex College) at 4:30pm.

Provincial 3MT Finals

The winner from Western's finals is invited to attend the Ontario 3MT final on Thursday, April 24 at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. This is a great opportunity to showcase your research to a wide range of scholars from across the province. Approximately 16 Ontario universities will be participating, and all travel and accomodations will be coordinated and supplied by SGPS.

The Ontario 3MT Finals began as a joint event organized by Queen's University, McMaster University and Western University. Western will host the provincial finals in 2015.


Current Western graduate students may participate in 3MT:


Judging Criteria

Presentations will be judged on the basis of three criteria:

  1. Communication style: Was the thesis topic and significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience?
    • Did the title of the talk give a clear picture of the topic and its importance?
    • Were all technical or specialist words clearly explained for a non-specialist audience?
    • Was the communication style clear enough so that any intelligent person could now sum up the topic and its significance?
  2. Comprehension: did the presentation help the audience to understand the research?
    • Did the speaker deliver their presentation at an appropriate pace?
    • Was there a storyline that helped the audience understand the research problem, its importance and how the research would or did address that problem?
    • Did the PowerPoint slide help the audience better understand the topic and its significance?
  3. Engagement: did the oration make the audience want to know more?
    • Did the speaker engage the audience with eye contact?
    • Did the speaker engage interest in the problem being researched?
    • Would you now like to join this research for further discussion about their work?


Prizes will be distributed at the 3MT Reception Dinner at the Grad Club on Thursday, April 10 at 5:00pm. All participants are encouraged to attend the finals and reception dinner to celebrate the achievements of all presenters. Cash prizes are given to assist winners in attending conferences in order to promote their research and further their academic network.

Preparation Workshops

The Teaching Support Centre will offer workshops to help students prepare for the competition. Participants will learn to communicate their research to captivate a non-specialist audience, and will have an opportunity to practice their three-minute speeches and receive feedback from peers. After the session, participants will have the option of being videotaped doing their 3MT.

Please register at Talking It Up Without Dumbing It Down: Preparing for the 3MT Competition.


What will the room setup be like for presentations?

All rooms will have a podium for use, or you may stand freely to present. Microphones will not be used for preliminary heats. For the finals, you have the option of using a lapel microphone or podium microphone.

Am I allowed to use cue cards during my talk?

Yes, in fact they are encouraged! Even if your presentation is entirely memorized, it is a good idea to have backup notes to place on the podium in case you lose your place.

Will I be able to see my scores?

Unforunately all scoring is confidential and not provided to presenters. Many judges make comments on their judging sheets however, and you can email your faculty contact to receive this feedback.

Will my talk be videotaped?

Only the 3MT finals will be videotaped; preliminary heats are not. The 3 winners' videos will be posted on the Western website for the university community to view. All other finalists videos will be provided to presenters so they can see their presentation and/or use for personal reasons.

I submitted my slide but would like to make changes. Is this possible?

Yes, in the confirmation email you receive when registering, you can log back into the 3MT system and simply upload a new slide over your first submission. Please note that changes to slides must be done prior to the slide deadline set by your individual faculty.

Are there any opportunities to participate in a public speaking event prior to 3MT?

Yes, the Western Research Forum is an annual event hosted by SOGS that traditionally takes places a few weeks prior to 3MT, with several opportunities to discuss your research in a public, non-specialist setting.


Questions regarding this event can be directed to Wesley Moir.