In a climate of knowledge exchange and community engagement, communicating to an audience outside the Academy is becoming increasingly important for research professionals.

The Competition

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 visualise-thesis@unimelb.edu.au


Find out more about the origin and development of the Visualise Your Thesis competition.

  • 2020

    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.

    Highly commended

    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.

    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.

    Views were counted from midnight, Monday 12th October (GMT), to 11:59pm on Sunday, 18 October (GMT). Make sure to check your local start and local end times so your view counts.

    The 2020 judges were:

    Professor Ginny Barbour

    Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group

    Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) and Professor at Queensland University of Technology

    Graeme Base (Photo by Robyn Base)

    Graeme Base

    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.

    Professor Deb Verhoeven

    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

    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:

    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:

  • 2018

    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.

    University of Hong Kong entrants standing as a group in front of a greenscreen for video creation next to large University logo

    The team presented at the Australian Research Management Society conference in Hobart, speaking about the development of the competition to date.

  • 2017

    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.

    2017 University of Melbourne competition entrants standing with certificates and competition judges, Simon Clews and Inger Mewburn.

  • 2016

    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).

    University of Melbourne 2016 competition entrants standing with certificates and competition judge, Simon Clews

  • 2015

    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.

Contact us

For further information, please contact visualise-thesis@unimelb.edu.au or visit our Frequently Asked Questions.