CPSA Prize for the Graduate Student Three-Minute Thesis Competition

Terms of Reference | Annex I | Annex II | Annex III

Graduate Student Three-Minute Thesis - Terms of Reference

CPSA Programme Committee: the Committee
CPSA Prize for the Graduate Student Three-Minute Thesis Competition: the prize
Teaching and Professional Practice Section Head: the section head
Chair of the competition: the chair
  1. The Committee will award the prize the every year.
  2. The Three-Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by the University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Its principles and main guidelines will be applied to the prize competition.
  3. In the implementation of these Terms of Reference, the Committee shall act through and be represented by the section head and the chair, who will be appopinted by the section head.
  4. Eligible contestants are MA or PhD students who have made substantial progress on their masters' research paper or thesis research and analysis. Term papers or other graduate work are not eligible.
  5. A presentation that has been submitted to the prize cannot be submitted to the same prize in a subsequent year.
  6. Instructions on "Deadlines," "Who Can Submit," "Submissions from Student Members," "Number of Proposals," "Submission to a Specific Section," "Official Languages," and "Types of Proposals," are included in the CPSA Annual Call for Proposals.
  7. Contestants must be members of the CPSA in the year the presentation is considered for the prize. The membership fee must be received at the CPSA Secretariat by the early registration deadline, which usually falls on March 31.
  8. The Committee shall be responsible for the administration and granting of the prize. This responsibility includes ensuring the regular granting of the prize, the integrity of the adjudication process, and publicity surrounding the granting of the prize.
  9. The selection of the recipient of the prize will be the responsibility of the Committee. In making the award, the Committee will seek the recommendation of the Prize Jury that will preside over the competition's Finals (see ANNEX I).
  10. The jury will:
    • be appointed by the chair in consultation with the section head;
    • consist of three non-expert members (e.g., politicians, journalists, elected officials, senior public officials). At least two jury members should be able to read and converse in French;
    • be responsible for nominating the recipient of the prize;
    • should feel free to recommend that no prize be given if in their view no presentation worthy of the prize is made.
  11. The preliminary rounds or "heats" of the competition will be presided over by a Preliminary Jury composed of two political scientists appointed by the chair in consultation with the section head. At least one jury member should be able to read and converse in French.
  12. Jury members can sit on the jury for up to two consecutive years.
  13. See ANNEX I for contestants' instructions and details about the competition during the Annual Conference. See ANNEX II for the judging criteria document.
  14. A jury member mentioned in sections 9 and 11 shall not judge a presentation if he/she stands to gain monetarily from the outcome of the decision or is in any way related to any contestants.
  15. At any time during the jury deliberations, any member of the Preliminary Jury mentioned in section 11 who considers that he or she has a conflict of interest (for example, the jury member is the contestant's thesis supervisor or is judging the work of a student in his or her department, a co-author or a former student) shall remove himself or herself from the jury, and a substitute shall be appointed by the chair in consultation with the section head, if possible.
  16. The awards will be organized and coordinated by the chair in consultation with the section head, with the competition's sponsors and academic presses. The winner will receive a grant for an amount of money to be determined. The winner and the runners-up will receive gift cards, which are typically donated by academic presses.
  17. The awards will be presented at the conference and the winner and runners-up will be announced on the CPSA Web site and social media.
  18. The Committee, in consultation with the CPSA Secretariat, will oversee the implementation of the prize process.


  1. Contestants:
    • are expected to prepare a three-minute presentation for the juries -contestants exceeding the three-minute maximum will be disqualified;
    • should note that they will present their graduate research in three minutes to a jury composed of non-experts (Finals). Therefore, presentations should be accessible, engaging and adhere to rules of plain language (click HERE to see winning and runner-up presentations in previous competitions);
    • are allowed to use one static PowerPoint slide to augment their verbal presentations (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description) -no additional electronic media (e.g., sound or video files) are permitted or props are permitted;
    • must be available to present in the preliminary heats (usually "Heat 1" and "Heat 2," to be held during the first two days of the conference) as well as the final competition (the "Finals," to be held on the last day of the conference);
    • must email to the CPSA Secretariat one week prior to the conference start date the following information:
      • a message indicating if they authorize the CPSA to video-tape their presentations during the "Finals," and to post them on the CPSA Web site after the conference
      • a written summary (maximum of 300 words) of their presentations in both French and English to circulate to jury members
  2. The maximum number of preliminary heats will be four, with the number of contestants in each heat and the number of preliminary juries determined by the number of submissions at the discretion of the chair and section head. Usually, four contestants participate in the "Finals." The top scores across the preliminary heats will advance to the "Finals". There is the possibility that the number of contestants who advance from each preliminary heat will not be equal. The contestants who received the top scores per preliminary heats will be informed  via email or Twitter after all preliminary heats are complete. 
  3. The Preliminary Jury (or juries) for the preliminary heats, and the Prize Jury for the Finals, will use a judging criteria document that follows the principles of the official 3MT™ of the University of Queensland to assess the presentations. The document will be provided to contestants before the competition.
  4. The judging criteria document:
    • assesses two areas: a) Comprehension and Content, and b) Engagement and Communication Style;
    • is composed of twelve questions graded on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).
  5. The Preliminary Jury (or juries) will have a brief period after presentations are delivered to complete their judging criteria document.
  6. One jury member is responsible for the initial tabulation of the scores, and a second jury member confirms the tabulation is correct.  
  7. The contestants of the preliminary heats with the highest scores will participate in the Finals. In the unlikely event of a tie, the chair will cast the deciding vote.
  8. The Prize Jury for the Finals:
    • will not deliberate on the presentations;
    • will have a brief period after presentations are delivered to complete their judging criteria document.
  9. One jury member is responsible for the initial tabulation of the scores, and a second jury member confirms the tabulation is correct.  
  10. The contestant(s) with the highest score will win the competition.
  11. In the unlikely event of a tie, the prize will be divided equally.
  12. The chair must email:
    • the name of the winner and runners-up to the CPSA Secretariat as soon as the competition is over;
    • a 100-word citation to be posted as the "Excerpt from jury report" on the CPSA Web site (click HERE to see previous prize citations) one week after the conference at the latest.


NAME OF THE CONTESTANT _______________________________________

TITLE OF THE PRESENTATION _______________________________________

CURRENT OR LAST DEGREE OF PRESENTER __________________________________

DATE __________________________________________________________



The presentation provides an understanding of the background and significance to the research question is addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon.


The presentation clearly describes the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes.


The presentation follows a clear and logical sequence.


The thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes are communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.


The presenter spends adequate time on each element of their presentation and presentation was not rushed.





The oration makes the audience want to know more.


The presenter was careful not to trivialise or generalise their research.


The presenter conveys enthusiasm for their research.


The presenter captures and maintains their audience's attention.


The speaker has sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintains a steady pace, and has a confident stance.


The PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation; it was clear, legible, and concise?