It’s January, and this means several things: The weather is cold, the Montreal Island is covered in snow and ice, the Winter term has begun… and it’s Three Minute Thesis/Ma Thèse en 180 Secondes time!
As it is explained here and here, Three Minute Thesis/Ma Thèse en 180 Secondes (3MT/MT180) is a competition in which graduate students present their thesis topic to a non-specialistic audience, paying attention to two strict limits: Their speech must last 3 minutes or less, and they have to show one static slide.
If you are studying at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences like me, you have just had the possibility to participate in the Lister Family Engaged Science Macdonald Campus 3-Minute Thesis Competition, that took place on January 11th.
Otherwise, no matter what your faculty is, if you are a graduate student in a program that includes a thesis or a significant research project, you can participate in the McGill 3MT/MT180 competition. The deadline to register for this competition was January 15th, but it has been extended to January 22nd, therefore, if you have not registered yet, you have some more days to think about it!
Still undecided on whether you want to participate or not? As a student who has participated in this competition, let me share with you my experience and 6+1 reasons why you should consider participating.
First, because communication can be crucial. A common struggle in the research field is the gap between our recognition of the importance of the topic we are studying, and the lack of recognition of this importance outside our lab. 3MT/MT180 is designed to fill this gap, at least a bit, in two ways: It gives us 3 minutes of attention from an audience, and it improves our presentation skills, that will be useful later in our career.
Second, because it’s fun. As I like repeating every time someone asks me about it, 3MT/MT180 is the perfect combination of academia and fun. You have fun when you attend the training sessions, when you prepare your slide and speech, when you rehearse it with your (patient) friends, when you talk to the public, and eventually when you watch your fellows’ presentations. Indeed, some presenters leverage on this fun aspect more than others, and make presentations that are remarkably engaging.
Third, because there is no grade, hence no real fear to fail. Of course you want to do well, but if you panic, forget your speech or make a mistake, there will be no consequence whatsoever.
Fourth, because there is no pressure. Again, everyone wants to do well, but the atmosphere is friendly and relatively relaxed.
Fifth, because you will probably meet students from other departments doing research on topics related to yours, but from the perspective of a different discipline. And it will be amazing, especially if you manage to chat with them and share your visions and thoughts.
Sixth, because your participation can be recognized, even if you don’t win anything. The competition consists in a few phases: Two non-mandatory training sessions, the heats, and eventually, if you pass the heats, the final. Now, the sixth reason lies in this note on the registration form: “Note – students who participate in both training sessions and the heats will receive recognition on their co-curricular record“. Having this recognition on our co-curricular record won’t hurt, will it?
Now, these six reasons apply to every student who decides to challenge himself/herself and participate in the competition, and in my opinion they are good enough to consider participating at least once in our graduate school career. In addition, there is a further reason to participate that might apply to you: You might be admitted to the final–which means your presentation will be recorded and uploaded on YouTube, and you might win, go to regional competitions, and make your research acquire even more visibility. As someone said, it’s an alluring result, if you consider that it just takes 3 minutes!
Now I leave you with some useful links… and best wishes in case you decide to participate!
FOR MCGILL STUDENTS FROM ANY FACULTY:
McGill Three Minute Thesis competition–Program description, Eligibility for participation, Training Workshop Information, Register Information: https://www.mcgill.ca/skillsets/3mt-mt180
SKILLSETS, to explore various engaging possibilities, including 3MT/MT180: https://www.mcgill.ca/skillsets/
FOR STUDENTS FROM THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES:
Lister Family Engaged Science Macdonald Campus 3-Minute Thesis Competition: http://www.mcgill.ca/macdonald/channels/event/lister-family-engaged-science-macdonald-campus-3-minute-thesis-competition-283126
Lister Family Engaged Science Initiative, to explore various activities and workshops to enhance your skills: https://www.mcgill.ca/osas/cpd/listerengagedscience
Office of Student Academic Services (OSAS), to explore even more activities: https://www.mcgill.ca/osas/