In a climate of knowledge exchange and community engagement, communicating to an audience outside the Academy is becoming increasingly important for research professionals.
Visualise Your Thesis is a successful, road-tested competition format developed by The University of Melbourne. The competition provides an opportunity for universities to showcase their graduate research and for the Visualise Your Thesis competitors to build essential digital communication skills to effectively communicate complex research to a general audience. Using a presupplied template, entrants are tasked with developing a striking, audio-visual presentation that presents their research project via a short and engaging digital narrative.
Entry is open to currently-enrolled PhD, MPhil, and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates. It is suitable for all disciplines and for students at any stage of their candidature.
We invited institutions to participate by running a local Visualise Your Thesis Competition using our guidelines and competition kit. Each participating institution will provide a finalist for the online International Visualise Your Thesis Competition.
Registrations for institutions are currently open for the 2020 competition.
University of Melbourne graduate researchers should visit the UoM Visualise Your Thesis site.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 International Visualise Your Thesis competition announced on Tuesday 22 October at the eResearch Australasia conference in Brisbane.
Click the links to view the winning presentations on figshare.
Annaclaire McDonald, University of Technology Sydney ($5,000 AU)
The judges said: “This is an instantly appealing song & video whose ideas stick in your brain long after watching it. It's charming and silly, and communicates a serious topic really effectively. The video is nicely edited to fit the music, and combines photos, text, animation, music & video into a cohesive whole”
Donovan Garcia-Ceron, La Trobe University ($2,000 AUD)
The judges said: "The beautiful, playful use of visual and audio texture really wrapped me up in the story, and reminded me that this was about a living system, not just data. The video uses the flexibility of physical stop-motion animation to make different scales tangible, and put microscopy and other scientific techniques in context, in an effective and creative way. A lot of time, effort and love has gone into this one."
Carmen Glanville, University of Melbourne ($1,000 AUD)
The judges said: “This a powerful and compact piece of storytelling. The opening is almost cinematic and immediately draws you in. Then you manage to explain the details of your project clearly using some well thought out animations and a minimum of text.”
Sixteen universities from four countries competed in the first international competition. All finalists’ works were added to the Visualise Your Thesis figshare repository where the public can watch and download the creative commons licenced videos, and the creators can gain insights into their impact through altmetrics tracking.
Find out more about the origin and development of the Visualise Your Thesis competition.
2019 saw our first true International competition, when 16 institutions from 4 countries ran a local competition and sent their winner to the International final. The field was judged by a three judge panel and announced at eResearch Australasia in Brisbane on October 22nd 2019 by Professor Ginny Barbour. Read more about the 2019 International Judges.
All winning entries are showcased on our figshare site, provided with the support of Digital Science, where they can be reused in accordance with a creative commons licence of the entrants choosing. The site also provides detailed viewing metrics so that students can learn more about the reach of their presentations.
The 2019 international prize pool totalled $8,000 AUD. Our inaugural winners were:
- 1st prize - Annaclaire McDonald, University of Technology Sydney ($5,000 AU) Fantastic Metals & Where to Phyt Them
- 2nd prize - Donovan Garcia-Ceron, La Trobe University ($2,000 AUD) Exploring Extracellular Vesicles From Plant Fungal Pathogens
- 3rd prize - Carmen Glanville, University of Melbourne ($1,000 AUD) Protecting Pets by Changing People
The team presented at THETA 2019 in Wollongong on the benefits of Visualise Your Thesis for students and research administrators, and at eResearch Australasia in Brisbane on creating digital stories for impact in research.
After a relatively short history the competition was offered nationally so that other institutions could get involved, however was almost immediately forced to go international such was the demand from universities around the world. Each participating university send their local winning entry to be showcased in the non-competitive online winners' gallery hosted by the University of Melbourne.
Institutions received a competition kit and resources to run their local competitions with the support of the University of Melbourne Visualise Your Thesis team, and the feedback from the early adopters was used to refine the competition processes for the future.
The team presented at the Australian Research Management Society conference in Hobart, speaking about the development of the competition to date.
In August 2017, the competition became Pitch Your Thesis and, as an indication of how far the competition had come in its short history, judge Simon Clews was joined by academic celebrity, Associate Professor Inger Mewburn (known to all as the Thesis Whisperer). First prize that year was awarded to "Mathematics and assessment in early childhood education" by Rachel Pollitt, second prize to "A seasonal thermal energy storage system for space heating" by Sheikh Khaleduzzaman Shah, and third prize to "Designing animal-computer interaction to shape zoo visitors' perceptions of animals" by Sarah Webber. The popular Viewer's Choice prize went to "Saving life with new artificial blood vessels" by Fatemeh Karimi.
In August 2016 the competition put down its digital roots and became an ePoster competition called Visualise My Thesis. Still Melbourne-only in these early days, the competition challenged PhDs to effectively communicate complex research to a general audience. First prize was awarded to "Imagination of adventure in today's art" by Emilie Walsh, second prize went to "Development of the Rowley Shoals Reefs" by Jackson McCaffrey and third prize to "Weak feet and walking, it’s in the shoes" by Rachel Kennedy. That year also saw a new prize, the Viewers' Choice prize, which also went to Emilie Walsh. The 2016 competition was judged by Simon Clews (Director of the Melbourne Engagement Lab).
2015 saw the precursor to the Visualise Your Thesis competition, the Researcher @Library Week Poster competition. Part of the University of Melbourne's inaugural Researcher @Library Week, the competition was won by Matthew Wood, a PhD Candidate researching Tectonic Geomorphology. Second prize was awarded to Marcella Purnama, a Publishing and Communications Master's student, and third prize to Vincent Bachtiar, who was undertaking a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. The competition was successful and extremely popular, but there was clearly a demand for the poster to do more - to be more engaging, and even dramatic. An ePoster competition was almost inevitable.
2020 sees the second International Visualise Your Thesis Competition, where the winners of local competitions – organized by national and international universities – will compete against each other in an online International Competition final.
We invite universities to register to participate by running a local Visualise Your Thesis competition using our guidelines and competition kit. Each participating institution will provide a finalist for the online 2020 International Visualise Your Thesis Competition. The competition is for currently-enrolled PhD, MPhil and professional Doctorate (Research) candidates.
Registering institutions are asked to agree to the Competition Terms and Conditions and to read our privacy statement.
Prizes for the 2020 VYT International Competition:
- First prize: AUD $5,000
- Second prize: AUD $2,000
- Third prize: AUD $1,000
2020 Participating Universities
- Australian National University (ANU)
- Central Queensland University (CQU)
- Coventry University
- Curtin University
- Monash University
- Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
- Southern University of Science and Technology
- The University of Adelaide
- The University of Melbourne
- The University of New South Wales, Sydney
- The University of Sydney
- The University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
- January - August 2020
Visualise Your Thesis heats held at individual universities worldwide. Winners of local Visualise Your Thesis heats entered into the International Visualise Your Thesis Competition (online).
- September - October 2020
Inaugural International Visualise Your Thesis Competition (online) with a prize announcement at a research event (venue and date TBC).
The 2020 judges will be announced later in the year.
The 2019 judges were:
- Professor Ginny Barbour
Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) and Professor at Queensland University of Technology
- Assoc. Professor Tim Sherratt
Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra.
- Sam Muirhead
Open source activist, animator and technologist, 2018/19 Mozilla Fellow.
The International Visualise Your Thesis competition showcase is powered by figshare.
Sponsorship enquiries are welcome at any time. Businesses interested in finding out more about sponsorship opportunities associated with the competition should email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and a sponsorship prospectus.
Check out the resources below to support you in the competition.
Copyright videos for Visualise Your Thesis Competition
An Introduction to Copyright for Visualise Your ThesisTM Competition.
Using copyright materials for Visualise Your ThesisTM Competition.
Using public domain works for Visualise Your ThesisTM Competition.
Using Creative Commons for Visualise Your ThesisTM Competition.
Using your own materials for Visualise Your ThesisTM Competition
* While we endeavour to ensure that all content published in these Visualise Your Thesis videos is correct at the time of publishing, we make no warranty about the accuracy, completeness or reliability of this content. The information provided here is general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s in the competition kit?
- Competition rules
- Poster template (ppt)
- Judging criteria and judging rubric
- Technical instructions
- How to run the competition
- Competitor resources
- Competitor submission checklist
- How to use the ePoster template
- Tips for creating your ePoster
- Tips for adding audio and video to your ePoster
- Guidelines for the use of the Visualise Your Thesis identity and concept
What training is suggested for participants?
It is up to individual participating institutions to devise and offer training sessions for competition entrants.
The University of Melbourne, for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 competitions, offered the following supporting workshops:
- working with PowerPoint
- principles of graphic design and visual presentation
- writing succinctly for a non-specialist audience
We also recommend incorporating information on how to source and cite copyright-compliant visual or audio-visual material into any training sessions you decide to run.
How do I get the competition kit?
Please register your institution for the competition to receive the competition kit
Are there any costs involved?
There are no costs involved in participating in the competition; however, all local prizes are to be supplied by the individual participating institutions. The University of Melbourne does not provide prizes for local competitions.
The 2019 International Competition final prize pool is:
- 1st prize - AUD$ 5,000
- 2nd prize - AUD$2,000
- 3rd prize - AUD$1,000
- Viewers' Choice - TBA
Where can I get further information?
Please contact us via email@example.com for further information.
How does this competition differ from the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®)?
This competition does not have a verbal presentation component and relies purely on each submission's visual presentation. Students who are in earlier stages of research (have not reached confirmation/ before writing up) are also welcome to enter the competition.
The competition submissions were judged on visual impact: how well presented their research projects as short, engaging, digital narratives. The entrants from a variety from a variety of disciplines used multi-media, interactivity and their creativity to take the ‘classic conference poster’ to the next level.
1st Prize Winner: Rachel Pollitt, PhD Student, Final Year Department of Early Childhood/Graduate.
2nd Prize Winner: Sheikh Khaleduzzaman Shah PhD Student, Department of Infrastructure Engineering.
3rd Prize Winner: Sarah Webber, PhD Student, School of Computing & Information Systems.
Viewers' Choice award: Fatemeh Karimi, PhD Student, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Department + Chemical Engineering Department/Polymer Science Group.
2016 1st Prize Winner: Emilie Walsh - Imagination of Adventure in Today’s Art.
2016 2nd Prize Winner: Jackson McCaffrey - Development of the Rowley Shoals Reefs
Meet the 2019 VYT International Competition Judges
Virginia (Ginny) Barbour
In 2004 she was one of the three founding editors of PLOS Medicine. She was the journal’s first Chief Editor, ultimately becoming PLOS Medicine and Biology Editorial Director. She chaired the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) from 2012-May 2017.
She has a medical degree from Cambridge University, and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. She has been involved in global advocacy for open access and innovation in scholarly communication since 2003, including advising on development of open-access and related policies to a diverse group of organisations. She is currently on the NHMRC's Research Quality Steering Committee.
Digital Heritage. Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra
Tim Sherratt is a historian and hacker who researches the possibilities and politics of digital cultural collections. He joined the University of Canberra in 2015 as Associate Professor of Digital Heritage, and combines academic life with a role in the Trove management team at the National Library of Australia.
He has been creating online resources relating to libraries, archives, museums and history since 1993, including Bright Sparcs, Mapping our Anzacs, QueryPic, and The Real Face of White Australia. He is a member of the THATCamp Council, an organiser of THATCamp Canberra, and a member of the committee of the Australasian Association for the Digital Humanities.
Sam Muirhead is an Open source activist, animator and technologist, 2018/19 Mozilla Fellow.
Starting with music video and documentary before exploring many other fields of visual storytelling, Sam's work encompasses educational, social and environmental themes, having made videos and animation for Open Knowledge, OuiShare, Edgeryders, Charité, UNDP and Wikimedia, amongst many others.
Alongside his documentary & animation practice, Sam's research, workshops and software tools focus on the commons, and methods for collaborative creation and remix of illustration & animation.