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 with second prize going 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.
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).
In August 2017, the last year before the competition went national, it 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.
After a relatively short history, in 2018 the competition decided to go national, but almost immediately was forced to go international such was the demand from universities around the world. And this trend looks to continue into 2019. So, if you’re reading this, we hope you’re one of the many universities worldwide who will be taking part this year and we welcome you to what is a hugely exciting event and wish you good luck with your local competition.
Visualise Your Thesis is being hailed as one of the most exciting developments in graduate research communication that has been seen for a long time. It takes the amazing research of the world’s brightest and best graduate researchers and catapults it into the digital age. Whether as competitor or audience member, we hope you enjoy the incredible results.