If you had been umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether or not to enter the Three Minute Thesis competition this year, maybe those voices in the back of your head were nagging at you “I don’t have time” or “I really should be prioritising other stuff”… well the following post from our Masters Winner, Nicola Beatson, may just help you to realise that taking some time away from your desk could actually be productive for your research – go figure!
I entered the 3MT on a bit of a whim but was excited to see what it was all about… I saw it as both an opportunity to get involved in the post grad community and also to work out what on earth I was talking about in my thesis! Having been a part time MCom student for the past (won’t say how many) years, holding down a full time job AND having two babies in that same time period has meant that my thesis has been put on hold numerous times.
My research seemed to always take a back seat, however this year, I put it higher up the priority list and started putting blocks of time aside for research. So a few months ago, I was pretty close to a final draft, but I still felt like my thesis was a bit unfocused. It was through entering the 3MT competition that meant I was able to work out what I believed was really important about my work. As we all know, a thesis has so many moving parts, to find out what the point of your work is, can sometimes be confusing, confronting, or just near on impossible! Through writing a speech that described my work in just 3 minutes, I was able to figure out what my story was. This helped tremendously in terms of shaping all the chapters in my thesis, ensuring everything I wrote told part of my story.
The event itself was a great experience to meet other research students, so often we don’t leave our offices! I got to know other commerce postgrads at the heats and then when I got a wildcard place to the finals, I met other students from across the university! Wow, there is some amazing research being done here at Otago, it was fascinating to see what people are up to… It was also a fabulous and rewarding experience in terms of polishing up on those all-important presentation skills. It’s always good to feel the fear and do it anyway! I was lucky enough to win the masters section for the University of Otago which meant a trip to Auckland to compete at the national finals! I also won a research grant (thanks GRS!!!!), but more importantly I won the opportunity (just by competing in the first place) to figure out the essence of my research!
The moral of the story is, have a go next year…its really fun, but more importantly, it is rewarding in terms of progressing your thought processes… so if your supervisor says you don’t have time to enter the 3MT, let them read this blog!! As you will clarify and drill down into what is really important by reducing your many thousands of words into a 3 minute speech!