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 pre-supplied 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 invite 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.
University of Melbourne graduate researchers should visit the UoM Visualise Your Thesis site.
Registrations for the 2021 Visualise Your Thesis competition have now closed.
Please contact the VYT team if you have any questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about the origin and development of the Visualise Your Thesis competition.
Twenty one universities from five countries competed in the second 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. The field was judged by a three judge panel and announced at eResearch Australasia in Brisbane on October 19th 2020. Read more about the 2020 International Judges.
The 2020 international prize pool totalled $8,000 AUD. Our winners were:
1st place - Kelly Wilson-Stewart, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), $5,000 AU
The judges said: From a simple, almost storybook opening we are taken on a clear explanatory arc to the heart of the problem - x-rays don’t behave in an orderly fashion as one might imagine – and onwards, to the accompaniment of a cannily-chosen soundtrack, to a restrained but effective emotional payoff – these are not storybook characters but real people – lending the project a sense of importance and relevance that is inescapable. The result? We WANT this project to succeed! Great communication and salesmanship for an important research project.
2nd place - Ané van der Walt, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), $2,000 AU
The judges said: This was just beautiful and was a well told and visually rich illustrated story itself about how to make a story. In addition, it explained well the cultural importance of the project and indeed how the atlas would have a life after the project ends.
3rd place - Maleen Jayasuriya, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), $1,000 AU
The judges said: This grabbed immediately with its humour, engaging character and a good story – which made all the judges laugh. But there was more than humour – a clever use of animation and a mix of graphics, succinctly explained a quite complex solution for very a real world problem.
- Nicola Rivers, Monash University, "Everything not saved will be lost"
The judges said: An elegant and lucid explanation of species recovery technology drawing on the easily-relatable analogy of data back-up. We appreciate immediately what the problem is and are led to an equally clear grasp of the proposed solution. Deceptively simple animation gains sophistication through a limited colour palette. The choice of a stylish and highly legible font completes the picture making for an excellent communication package.
- Gwendolyn Foo, UNSW, Using Robots to Solve the World’s Fastest Growing Problem
The judges said: There was a great use of photos and images to explain the human and societal costs of waste. The editing of images and the soundtrack provided really good tension in the story, which led logically to the resolution described by the research project.
2020 Trending on VYT competition
The entry with the most views as recorded on figshare between 12-19 October 2020: Chantelle Clarke, CQU, Supporting mental health for women with lipoedema through compassionate mind training. Chantelle wins a VYT prize pack incl. a Kindle Prologue. (6"touch display 167 PPI. 4GB wifi).
The winner of the 2020 Trending on VYT competition will be the video with the most views as recorded in the 2020 figshare gallery. Downloads will not be used to determine the winner.
The 2020 judges were:
Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group
Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) and Professor at Queensland University of Technology
Author and Illustrator
Recipient of over thirty Australian and international publishing awards, and with global sales exceeding six million copies, Graeme has established himself as one of Australia's pre-eminent creators of imaginative works for children.
Research Chair in Gender and Cultural Informatics
Canada 150 Research Chair in Gender and Cultural Informatics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Prior to this position Deb was the Associate Dean of Engagement at UTS.
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.
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.
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.
2021 sees the third 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.
Prizes for the 2021 VYT International Competition:
- First prize: AUD $5,000
- Second prize: AUD $2,000
- Third prize: AUD $1,000
2021 Participating Institutions
- Australian National University
- CABAH (ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage)
- Charles Darwin University
- Coventry University
- Curtin University
- Deakin University
- La Trobe University
- Lund University
- Massey University
- Monash University
- Newcastle University (UK)
- Queensland University of Technology
- Swinburne University of Technology
- The University of Adelaide
- The University of Melbourne
- The University of Sydney
- University College Dublin
- University of Canterbury
- University of Glasgow
- University of Johannesburg
- University of Southern Queensland
- University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
- Victoria University
- Western Sydney University
- February - August 2021
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 2021
International Visualise Your Thesis Competition (online)
- October 2021
Visualise Your Thesis prize announcement at the eResearch Australasia Conference, 11 - 15 October 2021 (online).
- Dr Tamika Heiden
Research Impact Academy
- Al Cossar
Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)
- Professor Deb Verhoeven
Canada 150 Research Chair in Gender and Cultural Informatics
University of Alberta Edmonton
Find out more about our 2021 Judges
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 email@example.com for further information and a sponsorship prospectus.
Check out the resources below to support you in the competition.
Effective Video Storytelling for Researchers
Chapter 1 of the 'Effective Video Storytelling for Researchers' series
Chapter 2 of the 'Effective Video Storytelling for Researchers' series
Chapter 3 of the 'Effective Video Storytelling for Researchers' series
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 for competition administrators
What’s in the competition kit for competition administrators?
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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