BILDing my scholarly communication skills: The 3-minute thesis edition (plus bonus VIDEO!) (by Lauren Godfrey-Smith)


As many of our readers will know, part of being a BILDer means being critical, pushing boundaries, and speaking back to established academic norms of in terms of the way that we do, share, and talk about research. In the last several years since we started BILD, this has taken shape through a number of small and large projects, one of which is this blog, a space where we and other members of the extended BILD community can talk about critical issues that matter to us without the restrictions and wait-times of the peer-review journal process. Ultimately, we seek innovative and creative ways to engage critically as scholars. At the personal level, this critical boundary-pushing revealed itself at the methodological level through my autoethnography, walking interviews, and other innovative research methodologies that I used in my field work.

More recently, fellow BILDer Dr. Alison Crump encouraged me to submit a proposal for the McGill edition of the 3-Minute Thesis (3MT). The 3MT was started at University of Queensland (coincidentally, my alma mater!) and asks graduate students to describe their research in just three minutes using non-technical language aimed at a non-specialist audience. Where we are normally given 20 minutes to present and defend theses that are often 200+ pages (my current draft is 220 pages –  *gulp*), the 3MT encourages us, as new scholars, to rethink how we present and talk about our research. In my mind, this makes the 3MT very BILD-appropriate!

160316-122621-27656.JPGNot only was I drawn to the innovative format of the 3MT, I also learned valuable communication skills that I can bring back to my thesis as I finish the final chapters and prepare to present my research at conferences and, ultimately, my oral defense. Three minutes is about 500 words of text on a page, so tough choices must be made in terms of what to say and what words to use. Ruthless editing (and re-editing, and re-editing, and re-editing) was necessary to bring my talk down to less than three minutes. I feel that my writing has more clarity and focus, and I can better talk about my research in practical real-world terms with people in and beyond my field.

So, I’m sharing the video of my 3MT and writing about in this blog post because I think that it’s important that we, as new scholars, continue to push boundaries, experiment, and innovate in the ways that we do and talk about research. Enjoy!

The artwork that accompanies my 3MT was custom-created by the amazing artist Ed Kwong.



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