Three Minute Thesis Competition 2020

Do you wish you had an answer at the ready when someone says, “So, tell me about your research?”

Apply by June 3rd to participate in UChicagoGRAD’s Three Minute Thesis Competition and Research Showcase. This year’s 3MT will take place virtually on Thursday, June 11, 4:00-6:00pm CT.

three minute thesis logo

Three Minute Thesis, also known as 3MT, is a public speaking competition originally developed by the University of Queensland.

In a 3MT competition, participants prepare a three-minute presentation about their research using only one static slide. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your work to a broader audience and practice your public speaking skills. By participating in a 3MT, you can gain practical experience in how to condense the broad strokes of your research into a clear, concise, and engaging format.

Any student currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at the University of Chicago and writing a Master’s or PhD thesis is eligible to apply. The focus of your presentation should be your original research, pitched in an engaging way to a general audience without losing sight of the significance and impact of your work.

A panel of judges will evaluate each presentation and choose an overall winner as well as additional winners in separate categories. The winning presenters will have their presentations featured on the UChicagoGRAD website and be featured in an episode of the new GRADTalk podcast.

The application deadline for the Three Minute Thesis Competition is June 3. To complete the application form, please click here. For questions please contact Michael O’Toole:


Sounding Board

Optimize your work/life balance with GRAD Sounding Board

Feeling overwhelmed by grad school?

Perhaps you need to address relationship issues in your department, lab or life?

Maybe you want to prepare for a tough conversation with your advisor?

Suppose you are struggling to balance the many demands of your program with your own exceedingly high expectations and want some support?

UChicagoGRAD Sounding Board advising provides a trained counseling professional with whom you can unload some stress, address concerns or conflicts, explore options for solving your problem and will also connect you with appropriate resources.

Make a Sounding Board appointment here

UChicago Library can help you prep for job interviews and GRADUCon

Use the University of Chicago Library career resources to help prepare for interviews, learn about industries, explore books on career development, and gain valuable skills through workshops on software like GIS and Zotero.

  • Company and Industry Research: The Library subscribes to many sources of information on companies and industries. These can be very useful tools for researching a company that has invited you to interview or an industry where you are interested in working.
  • The Graduate Career Development Resources Collection is collaboration between UChicagoGRAD and the Library, and is made possible through the generous support of Danette (Dani) Gentile Kauffman and Diane Adams.
    • The collection is located on shelving adjacent to the Ask a Librarian desk on the first floor of the Regenstein Library.
    • For questions about the collection or suggestions for resources to add, contact Emily Treptow (
  • Skill development that may benefit your professional career

Don’t forget the library can help with any other area of research too! Click for the library’s subject guide:

Graduate Writing Consultants

Graduate Writing Consultants (GWCs) sessions offer one-on-one support for on-going academic writing projects, assistance analyzing and controlling the rhetorical effects of writing for particular readers, and tools for planning, drafting, and revising more effectively. 

GWCs are trained by the Writing Program in principles of effective academic writing. But because writing at the graduate level is expert writing about a specialized field, in each consultation the GWC will rely upon the writer’s expertise about both their subject matter and their readers.

In these one-on-one sessions, writers work with GWCs not just on problems in particular drafts, but also to develop advanced skills for revision. Writers can meet with a GWC during any stage of the writing process–nearly completed documents, drafts, rough drafts, or really rough drafts. While we ask that all meetings start from some piece of writing, graduate students at the beginning of a project can work with GWCs to begin getting ideas on the page, or to get “unstuck” in the middle of a project.

Writers may also elect to work with GWCs on a rhetorical analysis of published work in their field (a “Field Analysis” session). Field Analysis sessions help writers build practical familiarity with writing conventions specific to their fields. This kind of analysis can be highly useful for writers preparing work for publication or for conference presentations.

What kinds of writing can I work on during a GWC session?

  • Dissertation/Thesis Proposals
  • Thesis drafts
  • Dissertation chapters
  • Abstracts
  • Conference papers
  • Seminar papers or other papers for coursework
  • Journal articles

What can I expect in a typical session?

  • For every session, you will submit some text in advance– either your own work, or an article to analyze. This text will be the focus of the session, but GWCs also require writers to fill out an on-line Cover Sheet form that is equally crucial to the session.
  • At the beginning of each session, the GWC will chat with you briefly to ask follow-up questions based on your cover sheet and to determine an agenda for the meeting.
  • The GWC will ask questions about your text and help you diagnose patterns and issues.
  • The GWC will work with you to make plans for revision and/or begin implementing some revisions.
  • Since you have been working to build expertise in your field, the GWC will ask you questions about your audience and the conventions of writing in your discipline. The GWC is not there to judge content, but to help you judge the rhetorical effects of what you have written and how your audience may respond. With your audience in mind, we will help you figure out ways to revise your text to achieve your desired effect.
  • GWCs are not copy-editors/proofreaders. If you are looking for copy editing, the Writing Program can set you up with a trained, fee-based editor.

Schedule a GWC session via GRAD Gargoyle; plan well in advance of upcoming deadlines and prepare to submit a cover sheet at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment.

5 Ways to Keep your Writing and Research Momentum going over Winter Break

Worried that vacation, travel, and shifts in your routine might hinder your productivity? Check out tips to keep your progress going while also accounting for your need to relax, rest, and reconnect with friends and family!

UChicagoGRAD Dissertation Write-In

You may have big writing or research project plans for Winter Break, so here are some tips for developing a realistic plan for your academic goals and a handful of strategies that can help you accomplish them.

Remember: Academic breaks can present dueling interests between self-care and what you need to accomplish as a researcher and writer. It’s key to realize that both are important, set realistic expectations, and plan for how you’ll negotiate the Winter Break’s particular challenges:  unstructured time, exhaustion at the end of an academic quarter, family and social commitments, and heightened expectations for “open” writing and research time.

Getting started:

  1. What are your needs as a person over Winter Break? [such as: time spent with family or friends, sleep, getting outside, or hobbies]
  2. How do you plan to address those personal needs?
  3. Outline the challenges Winter Break might pose for your writing and research. [such as: time away from campus resources, lack of quiet space, or social and familial commitments]
  4. How do you plan to address those challenges? What are some workarounds? How can you set up mechanisms for accountability? [see below for tips!]

Tips for addressing some of the challenges of Winter Break productivity:

  1. Kick start your momentum by registering for Mini Dissertation Write-Ins in the Graduate Writing Room (Sessions on December 17-18, 9am-1pm or December 19-21, 9am-1pm): these are intensive workshops designed to help you break through roadblocks and make progress.
  2. Develop a Writing Ritual: pick an easily repeatable activity that will mark a shift into work mode (such as lighting a candle, putting on a hat, or tidying up your work space). For more about this technique, claim your institutional membership to NCFDD and check out this webinar.
  3. Make it Social: create a Facebook group, Instagram chat, or a group text message with peers to set up accountability around writing time (for example, text your peers, “I’m going to write for 1.5 hours on Tuesday, starting at 10 AM, does anyone want to join?” and then check in once you’re done).
  4. Make a Co-working Date: meet a friend in a coffee shop or plan for a silent Skype writing session with a colleague.
  5. Partner with a peer for Weekly Check-ins: via a shared Google doc or a Skype session, check in about three things each week: updates on your weekly progress, your goals for the upcoming week, and requests for advice on one thing (if needed). If you’re using a Google doc, use the comments function to encourage one another and weigh in with advice.

** Content generously provided by the Writing Program, adapted from National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity resources.

“A good communicator should be able to discuss their work with any audience.” – Allen Linton, GRADTalk Consultant

Understand more about GRADTalk in an interview with Allen Linton, GRADTalk Consultant and Graduate Student in Political Science

FAQ: GRADTalk offers individualized and programmatic resources related to public speaking, interviewing, participating in the classroom, giving classroom or conference presentations, networking, and more. The GRADTalk team works with students individually in customized advising sessions, and also offers opportunities, both on campus and off, for graduate students to practice and improve their oral communication skills.

Learn more about GRADTalk Advising from Allen Linton, GRADTalk Consultant and Graduate Student in Political Science

Why did you decide to become a GRADTalk Advisor?

“I have had a range of interview experiences – for Fellowships, Internships, and even jobs outside of academia, and I learned a lot from those experiences about how to address different audiences. Before taking this job, I worked with other graduate students who were interviewing for jobs or working on presentations, and they were always appreciative of my feedback and advice. When I saw the GRADTalk position advertised, I decided to apply.”

How long have you been a GRADTalk Advisor?

“A little over 2 years.”

What concerns do most graduate students have when they first come to GRADTalk?

“Most graduate students want help translating their lived experience into a good story. The graduate students I meet with are all qualified to do the work they are interviewing for, and my job is to help them reflect on their experiences to talk about how it translates into leadership, teamwork, project management, and goal setting skills. It’s mostly how to best tell their story.”

What do you wish graduate students knew about GRADTalk advising?

“I would want graduate students to know that we provide support for a range of oral communication needs. We see a lot of students as they are leaving the university and interviewing for academic or professional positions, but we can advise students throughout their time at UChicago. We provide well-rounded support that can be customized for students who are giving presentations in the classroom or at conferences, who are serving as a discussant for a workshop, who need assistance with classroom participation skills and much more.”

What programs does GRADTalk offer?

“In the spring quarter, we will host our second annual 3 Minute Thesis Competition, where graduate students present their research in 3 minutes for a panel of non-specialist judges. This gives graduate students a chance to practice public speaking and practical experience condensing the broad strokes of their research into a clear, concise, and exciting format. We also host a quarterly series called Expose Yourself that gives graduate students and postdocs the opportunity to practice presenting their academic work to non-specialists from across the university. You can learn more about these events in the GRAD Guide Weekly.”

What was one of your favorite experiences working with another graduate student?

“I had 5 or 6 advising sessions with a neurobiologist, and while I did not understand the technical components of his research, we were able to work closely together to revise the pacing of a 15 minute conference presentation. The focus of each of our sessions was ‘how to pace information to make it both accessible to experts and those who have general knowledge of the field.’ I provided feedback on the amount of content on each slide and the flow of information; this helped the student to use the presentation to highlight the most relevant aspects of his work and findings.”

Sign up for these upcoming GRADTalk Events via GRAD Gargoyle (Events > GRAD Events > Search and RSVP)

  • Preparing Effective Conference Presentations Monday, November 19, 12:30-1:30pm, UChicagoGRAD HQ
  • Elevator Speeches and Networking SkillsThursday, November 29, 12:30-1:30pm, UChicagoGRAD HQ
  • Public Speaking 101Thursday, January 10, 12:30-1:30pm, UChicagoGRAD HQ