The international competitions developed by University of Melbourne and University of Queensland respectively, shine a spotlight on graduate research and provide a forum for effective research communication.
Three Minute Thesis
This year, 23 VU doctoral students took part in the 3MT competition, which gives participants 180 seconds to communicate the purpose, importance and potential impact of their thesis, to a non-specialist audience.
Christine opened the presentation with traditional wedding vows, followed by a question that immediately engages viewers in the urgency and seriousness of the topic: revealing the dual, interrelated and compounding dimensions of spiritual abuse and intimate partner violence. Christine explains the research methodology, and closes with a reminder of the ongoing impact of spiritual abuse, and potential life-saving impact of the research findings.
3MT finalists included:
Visualise Your Thesis
Eight graduate researchers from VU participated in the VYT competition, submitting 60 second audio-visual presentations that communicate the aims and potential benefits of their research to a non-specialist audience.
Rebecca Reid was awarded first place for her presentation . Rebecca’s engaging presentation visually showcased the correlation between air pollution and mental health conditions, through map iconography, text and a minimalist illustration style.
Yixian (Ashley) Guo received the runner up and People’s Choice award for her presentation, Promoting the mental health of culturally and socially diverse groups through theatre: a study of young Chinese migrants in Australia, which explains how culturally-sensitive, co-designed theatre could help encourage Chinese migrants in Australia to seek help and support for mental illness.
Storytelling & professional development
It’s a challenge to distil complex, detail-oriented research into a short format; and also capture the imagination of non-specialists. It requires researchers to be flexible in their mindset and think about their research from a new perspective.
In the months leading up to the competition presentations, VU researcher entrants received feedback and training from specialist academic and professional staff, organised by the Researcher Professional Development team in the School of Graduate Research. This helps each researcher to strengthen their presentation style.
VU Manager Researcher Professional Development Dr Lesley Birch, explains:
“Researchers need to be able to communicate their research clearly to a wide range of audiences, without losing the importance of what they are doing,” she said.
We believe this ability to present well across a range of formats – digital, verbal and written - are some of the key transferable skills our Higher Degree by Research students develop during their degree at VU. Both of these competitions give graduate researchers the chance to be creative in how they engage with their audience.”
Dr Birch and the team from VU’s School of Graduate Research are already planning for next year’s competition season, with information sessions for Visualise your Thesis and Three Minute Thesis scheduled for April 2024.