Hi! My name is Daisy Johnson and I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Education, who participated in the 2021 3MT competition. I had seen the Three Minute Thesis competition advertised during my first year at the university and decided to pass due to a lot of other commitments in life at that time. When I saw the advert come around last year, I decided to give it a go and see what happened. At the very least, I thought I might get some external thoughts and comments on my research into the creative writing of young girls and that’s always incredibly useful stuff to have.
Putting together the initial application was scary and intimidating but immensely valuable and I’m glad I did it. It helped me think about how to tell others about what I was doing and why I was doing it. It also helped me think about the value in my research – what’s the point of what I do? Why should people care about that? As somebody who’s really keen on working with people in non-academic contexts, these were really important questions for me to think about.
The Building Research and Innovation Capacity (BRIC) Team were super helpful throughout and we were given tailored and very in-depth training on how to craft and rework our presentations.
The finalists came from across the university and a wide range of disciplines were represented. I gained a lot of value from looking at other people’s presentations and seeing what message that I, as somebody who was unfamiliar with their topic, was able to get. It really helped me to think about my own research with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
Due to the COVID pandemic, we had to film our presentations in advance and got lots of tips on how best to do that. This was also a useful skill to pick up, and one which has transferred into my other work. I’m now a lot happier about presenting my research remotely and have been much more confident about recording presentations in advance.
I think the PhD experience can be quite isolating and things like 3MT really work against that. It reminds you that you are part of a community and helps you meet new people, whilst finding out about their research. You also get to make connections with staff outside of your department and that aspect of networking and meeting people is really good to have.
Would I recommend it? Yes, of course. I find it very easy to be intimidated by things like this and default to saying no, so my first advice is: don’t do that. All you need to do is say yes – go for it and see what happens. I ended up getting through to the final and the lessons I’ve learnt from participating in 3MT still influence my research today. That’s not a bad return.
*First published in 2022, dates and graphic updated for 2023 competition. Quote from Daisy edited to reflect RETT now being called Building Research and Innovation Capacity (BRIC) Team.