Entering Three Minute Thesis is CV gold

Former 3MT finalist Kate Blackwood presenting her PhD thesis on workplace bullying in the nursing profession

Master’s and doctoral students are being urged to enter 3MT, or Three Minute Thesis – an X Factor-style competition to find postgraduate researchers with dazzling presentation skills doing exciting research.

The competition is offering bigger prizes and more kudos this year as the event grows ever more global.

The ability to describe a research project in three minutes of compelling eloquence can enhance confidence, CV and research networks, and could win sizeable research funds or cash, and international travel, says research developer Marise Murrie from Massey’s Research and Enterprise team.

The academic contest kicks off next month across Massey University’s three campuses, with registration closing July 31. The aim of the competition is to communicate the key theme and significance of a thesis topic to a non-specialist audience, using accessible language and one slide as a prop.

First prize for the doctoral category is $5,000 for research (travel, conferences, publication costs), up from $1000 in previous years, and $1000 cash for the winning master’s thesis. Winners from both categories get the chance to compete nationally and internationally. Judges include a mix of academic staff and external guests.

The Massey master’s final will be held on August 24 at the Marsden Theatre on the Manawatū campus. This year the National Inter-University Master’s finals will combine with the Massey PhD finals at a public event on September 21 at Palmerston North’s Globe Theatre, with celebrity host Te Radar as MC. The national master’s event was launched last year and won by Massey student Hannah Young, for her psychology thesis on the near-death experiences of Northland Māori.

There are multiple recognised advantages just in participation, including the value of having entered 3MT on a CV as evidence you can communicate and present your research effectively and to diverse audiences, says Ms Murrie. This aspect has been highlighted by the fact that 3MT has a growing profile and is more widely recognised. Launched in 2008 by the University of Queensland, it is now global. 3MT has been adopted by 18 countries through a network of universities around the world, including in the United States, Britain, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

This year, the New Zealand doctoral finalist will compete against a wider field of 3MT finalists at the University of Queensland on September 30 in the first Asia-Pacific 3MT. Previously, it was a trans-Tasman event involving universities from New Zealand and Australia.

Dr Kate Blackwood, a 2014 finalist with her PhD on resolving workplace bullying in New Zealand’s nursing profession, says in a video interview that the 3MT competition gives researchers the chance to practise public speaking in a safe environment. “It’s also really nice to take a break from the way we think about a PhD on a day-to-day basis and to think more creatively about your topic,” says Dr Blackwood, now a lecturer in the School of Management.

Hayley Hunt, who won last year with a veterinary science PhD thesis investigating the link between poisoned plant-eating pigs and a mystery canine disorder, says she was not keen on public speaking but entered because her supervisors encouraged her to. But after attending workshops at Massey on speaking and presenting, she found the experience was “not as daunting as I thought it would be”.

She says the publicity about her win helped her make contact with other scientists and researchers, and the skills she learned during the 3MT have helped her with the rest of her PhD as well as her career.

Listen to Dr Kate Blackwood and Hayley Hunt talk about their experiences participating in previous Massey University 3MT competitions.

Find out more about the 3MT competition here.

Click here to register for the Massey heats.

For students who would like to participate but are not available for the heats, contact Marise Murie about pre-recorded or live-streamed entries: m.d.murrie@massey.ac.nz.

Dates for campus heats:


August 2 – QA1

August 3 – QB6


August 4 – ESS


August 10 – SSLB4

August 11 – SSLB4


Related articles

Postgrads encouraged to enter Three Minute Thesis
3MT winner tackles new phage in anti-microbial war
Breast cancer PhD research wins Massey 3MT
3MT heats up in Manawatū

More related articles

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 5:00pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 contact@massey.ac.nz Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey