Your thesis in a Twitter thread: #ThesisThread

The Doctoral Schools of the five Flemish universities are launching a competition: Your thesis in a Twitter thread: #ThesisThread. The aim is simple: contestants must set out their doctoral thesis, or a part thereof, in a thread of no more than 20 tweets on Twitter in an engaging and accessible way.

What is #ThesisThread?

It is an initiative by the Doctoral Schools of the five Flemish universities to promote the development of science communication skills amongst (nearly and recently graduated) PhD candidates.
The aim is to provide PhD candidates in the last year of their PhD projects and those who have defended their PhD within the last six months with the opportunity to broadcast their research, their methodologies and their findings to a broad audience in society. To this end, we are organising a competition in which PhD candidates can compete by submitting a thread of tweets highlighting their research and findings on Twitter. The challenge is to translate scientific findings into easily accessible, simple and engaging language, making use of the possibilities and handling the restrictions of the medium of Twitter.

Awards

Three winners will be selected by a jury made up of representatives from each of the Flemish universities. The winners will each receive a voucher for € 250,-.

Organisation

The contest will run from the 15th of September till 15th of October.
The first tweet of the thread must contain the hashtag #ThesisThread. Once participants have published their thread, they must register and provide the link to their thread in order to enter the competition: Registration form
Threads published outside of this period or threads that have not been submitted through this website will not be considered.

Rules

Participants must comply with the following rules:

  1. Have a personal Twitter account.
  2. Only submit one thread, either in Dutch or English.
  3. The thread should contain a maximum of 20 tweets, not including any responses from other users.
  4. Participants can make use of any and all of Twitter’s functionalities to present their research and its findings in a compelling way to an audience of educated laymen, including but not limited to the use of links, emoticons, videos, images, and animated gifs.
  5. Any data or information included by participants must respect the relevant rules and regulations that apply to the PhD candidate with regard to intellectual property rights and valorisation. PhD candidates should seek explicit permission from their supervisors to share information about their research findings as part of the contest.
  6. The jury’s decision will be final and cannot be appealed.
  7. The thread should be published between 15 September and 15 October.
  8. Once the thread is published using the relevant hashtag, students must register using the registration form and provide the link to their thread in order to enter the competition. Entries must be submitted by close of business on 15 October in order to be valid.

Jury and evaluation criteria

Once the threads of the participants have been received through the website provided, each university will receive a summary of all submissions from their institution.
Each participating university will then select three threads (in accordance with the evaluation criteria set out below) which will be submitted to the jury made up of representatives from each university and headed by Prof. Marc Van Ranst (KU Leuven), for final judging. This shortlist will be announced in November. The winners will be announced in December.

The following evaluation criteria will be applied to submissions across all disciplines:

  1. Expression and content: use of simple (avoiding technical and scientific jargon) and informative language that contextualises the research topic and its importance clearly for a non-specialized audience of educated laymen. Description of the research methodology, with a focus on the most relevant results and conclusions, using a logical and attractive structure. The thread should present the research in a popularising way without trivialising or oversimplifying it. Links to specialized journals or content should be avoided.
  2. Creativity: appropriate and attractive use of elements that enrich the content such as emoticons, images, graphs, links, videos or animated gifs. Research should be presented in such a way that it makes the public want to engage and learn more.

Disclaimer

Failure to comply with the rules and instructions set out in this call, as well as the improper use or presentation of data will be considered cause for disqualification.

Frequently asked questions

How should I go about making a good thread?

We recommend that you plan the structure of your thread carefully. Given the character restrictions, you should plan the content of each tweet to maximise its impact, including which features may help you highlight the point you are trying to make and/or make it stand out. Think about how the thread could be picked up by someone on their phone and who may scroll past one of the tweets in your thread (not necessarily the first one): does each tweet make a single point that can largely be understood independently from the others? How can you make sure each tweet stands out and grabs someone’s attention? What’s the interesting thing you are trying to expose in each tweet that could be enough to spark someone’s interest?

Will any distinctions be made between threads from different disciplines?

No. The aim of the contest is to promote science communication and as such the particular discipline to which your thread pertains is less important than your ability to present specialised scientific knowledge in a simple, engaging and accessible way to a broader audience of educated laymen.

Can I participate if I defended my thesis before the start of the contest?

Yes, as long as you defended no more than six months prior to the start of contest.

Can you incorporate “decorative” elements such as emoticons, gif’s , etc. or any other of Twitter’s functionalities in the thread ?

Yes, but keep in mind that they should contribute to the overall aim of finding ways to communicate your specialist research and findings to a broader audience.

Can I cite or link to publications related to my research or my own publications?

While it is up to you to decide which information you want to include in your thread, you should take into account that a non-specialist audience is unlikely to be engaged by information in specialised journals, books or conference proceedings. Moreover, your thread should be self-contained and not rely on someone having read specialised publications in order to engage with what you are saying.

 

If you still have questions, you can contact us at thesisthread@vlir.be