Nov. 28, 2022

Three competitions take graduate student research presentations to the next level

Upcoming competitions using images, multimedia presentations and Three Minute Thesis focus on communication skills enhancement
Self-Compassion: The Power of Being Kind to Our Bodies
Self-Compassion: The Power of Being Kind to Our Bodies by Benjamin Kim, master’s student in counselling psychology, Werklund School of Education.

Delivering a great presentation takes a lot of practice, especially if you’re speaking to people outside of your field. Researchers are often required to do just that as they share their findings with funders, community members and the general public.

In response to this critical need for mastering research communications, the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) and the Graduate Students' Association (GSA) offer a range of professional development opportunities for graduate students.

Images of Research Competition (sign up by Dec. 2)

A picture tells a thousand words

The Images of Research competition, a collaboration between FGS and the GSA, takes its audience on a visual journey as graduate students are asked to submit a research-relevant image along with one general and one technical abstract. FGS offers extensive resources on image composition and co-ordinates with the Student Success Centre to provide workshops on writing abstracts. Graduate students can learn more and register for this competition.

Participants can get feedback on their entries and have the opportunity to re-submit entries prior to judging. The competition recognizes top winners and runners-up in two categories: STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine) and HAS (humanities, arts and fine arts, and social sciences).

The image and abstracts are evaluated by a panel of judges that includes community members with experience in communication, research, and photography.

"The Faculty of Graduate Studies is excited to collaborate with the GSA to showcase Images of Research to more graduate students with displays of top contenders at the GSA Peer Beyond Conference. The top winners this year will be announced at Peer Beyond Awards event," says Dr. Tara Christie, PhD, manager, student experience, Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Peer Beyond Graduate Research Conference (sign up by Dec. 15)

Multimedia presentation opportunity

The 7th annual GSA Peer Beyond Graduate Research Conference will be hosted on Feb. 11 and 12, 2023 online and at the Taylor Institute. This is the only multi-disciplinary conference organized for graduate students at UCalgary. Any current graduate student can sign up for free to deliver a 10-minute talk, a poster, or a creative performance. Graduate students can register for abstract writing workshops.

This is a great opportunity for graduate students to practise their presentations and showcase their studies in front of other graduate students and community members. Feedback will be provided by judges and audience to help the presenters improve or perfect their presentations.

Peer Beyond continues to evolve. James Steele, GSA vice-president academic, shares his vision for this year’s Peer Beyond Conference: “Since starting at the GSA, I continue to be inspired by the breadth of research conducted by our talented graduate students at the University of Calgary. At this year’s Peer Beyond, we hope to showcase this diversity, while exploring the themes that thread us together as student researchers, even between seemingly unrelated fields.”

UCalgary's Three Minute Thesis (3MT) (dates to be announced)

One slide, three minutes and skills to move your career forward

3MT is a national academic competition that is a favourite event at UCalgary. In this event hosted by FGS, graduate students in research-based programs are invited to present their research in three minutes (yes, there is a timer!) in front of a live audience using only one static slide. Participants are not allowed to have any notes with them.

UCalgary has produced five national finalists with two first-place champions since the national competition was introduced. Participants have called the 3MT experience transformative, rewarding, and a place of genuine community.

With 3MT as the third research communication event (following Peer Beyond and Images of Research), students have the opportunity to build their skills incrementally. With the combination of captivating images, clarity, brevity, dynamic public speaking skills and lots of opportunities for practice, UCalgary graduate students have excellent opportunities to develop communication tools to get their research noticed.

"Communication skills are key for all graduate students, whether they are considering an academic career or plan to move into another sector,” says Dr. Robin Yates, dean and vice-provost of graduate studies. “Initiatives like the Three Minute Thesis help graduate students develop remarkable skills that will help them throughout their degree and beyond.”