The above question is one that many researchers dread being asked and it is often posed with a degree of trepidation due to the lengthy, unfocused answer which may follow.

Being able to ‘bottom line’ your research is an essential skill for researchers. To truly engage people with what you are doing there is a need to think creatively about how you talk about your work in a way which makes it accessible to all. Increasingly researchers are being asked to talk about their work to non-specialist audiences who may have little knowledge or understanding of the topic or the methods being used. There is a temptation to try to tell the whole story from beginning to end rather than to capture its essence.

The 3 Minute Thesis Challenge© (3MT) is a well-established international competition, developed by the University of Queensland, aimed at PhD students. Its focus is specifically on supporting researchers to talk succinctly about their research in a way which engages a non-specialist audience.

In England, the 3MT is now an annual competition with Universities holding local heats which feed into a national final.  With the use of a maximum of 1 slide participants are required to communicate their research in 3 minutes. The presentations are judged against specific criteria and awards are given for the best presentation. There are lots of You Tube videos from £MT challenges if you’re interested in seeing how it works and you may well have one in your local university.

Take part in a 3 minute research challenge

The Occupational Therapy Doctoral Network are organising a fringe event at this years Royal College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference on Monday 11th June.“So tell me about your research….” and we are looking for doctoral students interested in taking part. It isn’t exactly a 3MT but will be run along similar lines. You will be given 3 minutes to talk about:

  • your research topic
  • its importance
  • its relevance to occupational therapy.

In a departure from the 3MT, and because we know what a creative community occupational therapists are, presenters will NOT be allowed to use Power Point but they WILL be encouraged to be as creative as they want to be. Think props, poems, songs, performance – anything goes as long as it doesn’t take the whole 3 minutes to set up.

The fringe event is designed to be a fun competition and yes there will be prizes.  Two prizes will be awarded – one from the small panel of judges and one from a ballot of the audience.

Why take part?

There are so many reasons ……….

  • develop a key communication skill
  • stretch yourself into a new way of thinking about how to present your work
  • engage the broader occupational therapy community with the research being undertaken within our profession
  • demonstrate that research is fun!

Who can take part?

The fringe meeting will be open to anyone attending conference but presenters must be

  • occupational therapists studying for a doctoral award
  • who have agreed the focus for their research with their supervisor
  • who are in the process of gaining ethical approval, collecting or analyzing data or writing up their dissertation.

What to do next

We really hope if you’re an occupational therapist studying for a doctorate and attending conference we’ve sparked your interest.

To request an abstract form (or ask any questions) email

Closing date for submission of abstracts Friday 13th April 5pm

This event is being organised by myself (Lynne Goodacre) and Sarah Lawson on behalf of the OT doctoral network.

Featured image by David Clode via Unsplash.