Springer signs up for three-minute challenge

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Springer has confirmed it will be principal sponsor of the 2014 Trans-Tasman Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which challenges students pursuing higher education degrees to turn their theses into three minute presentations.

The contest encourages early career researchers to develop an ability to communicate their work to non-scientists.

Founded in 2008 by the University of Queensland, Australia, the 3MT competition asks students to explain their work within three minutes. The challenge focuses on encouraging young researchers to consolidate their ideas into a format that is broadly accessible to a general audience, in language appropriate to a non-specialist.

'The ability to translate discovery into language that is understandable outside academic circles is a critical skill in today’s research ecosystem,' remarked James Mercer, Springer’s sales director for southeast Asia and Oceania. 'Whether it is for funders, policy makers or the media, making the cutting edge of science understandable is paramount to the future of research, and we are happy to help foster these abilities.'

The competition began in 2008 and this year participants from 48 universities in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore will take part. Each of these competitors was victorious in the 3MT competition at their own institutions, so the upcoming event is a World Cup, of sorts. Because last year’s winner studies at The University of Western Australia, that will be the location of this year’s competition.

Professor Stephan Riek, acting dean of the UQ Graduate School said: 'Each year we are more and more impressed with the ability of our competitors to make such complex science so accessible. We like to say that we give these students three minutes to explain what would otherwise take nine hours. This is by no means easy, but it is a skill that is only growing in importance.'