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Graduate Studies

GradFlix video competition

Whether choosing a career in academia or beyond, your communication skills are key to achieving your professional goals. Our annual GradFlix competition provides an opportunity for you to use your creativity while building your communication and technical skills! 


Mark you calendars: GradFlix Final Showcase, April 5, 3 p.m.

What is GradFlix?

GradFlix is a video competition where graduate students have one minute to share their research story for a chance to win prizes and be featured in McMaster’s GradFlix showcase.

Participants create a video, moving slide show, or animation of no longer than 60 seconds (1 minute) in length that describes their research.

Get creative!

Videos can take many forms. Perhaps you would like to share your research in a poem. Maybe an original piece of music by you can accompany your visuals. Telling your story through animations may be something you’ve thought about. Here’s your chance to channel your inner creative self while describing your research.

Remember, you aren’t being judged on the potential impact of your research, but rather how effectively (and creatively) you communicate your research story in your GradFlix!

Please note that videos must include:

  • movement (slide transitions, zoom, or a subject moving in a video)
  • sound (voice over, sound and/or music)

Videos may be less than 60 seconds, but may not be longer than 60 seconds.

Why should you participate?

  • You have the chance to learn a new skill.
    • Use digital narrative to explain a complex idea, and develop your “elevator pitch” while doing so. Plus, you can apply your newfound tech skills to your teaching.
  • Take this opportunity to expand your network
    • Having a video about your research will make it easier to network online. Add it to your online portfolio, perhaps your LinkedIn profile, or add a link to your resume.
  • Broaden your communication skills.
    • The competition will develop your research communication skills, while teaching you how to communicate with non-specialist audiences
  • Introduce your research to a new and broader audience.
    • Video is an accessible, easy-to-share format for telling your research story.
  • Win prizes!

PLUS you may have an opportunity to use your video to enter more competitions – for example, SSHRC’s Storytellers – OR you can use your new skills to create another video!

Expandable List

To be eligible to participate in GradFlix, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Graduate students must be registered in a master’s (Thesis or MRP) or PhD program at the time of the competition.
  • Master’s and PhD students who have defended, but have not yet convoked, are eligible to participate.
  • Videos must focus on research conducted for a thesis, MRP or dissertation in the student’s current McMaster University graduate program.
  • Participants must allow their videos to be made public.

Communication – 40%

  • Use of clear language and terminology.
  • Logical sequence of information: Does the script/story make sense? Are the images appropriate? Do they complement the message?
  • Clear explanation of why the research is important.

Creativity – 40%

  • Information is presented creatively. For example, you could include a poem, original music, animations, or elements that have a higher technical difficulty (e.g., green screen).
  • Visually or verbally appealing and engaging.

Technical Quality – 20%

  • Quality of sound and images.
  • Accessibility of final video. For example, all videos are required to be captioned according to best practices (i.e., Do not caption directly to video, but provide script in a usable format for upload to YouTube.)
  • All images, audio, effects are cited at end of video. (not counted in the 60-second time limit.)
  1. Videos must focus on research conducted for a thesis, MRP or dissertation in the student’s current McMaster University graduate program.
  2. Video content must be original and you must be the sole author of the content. 
  3. Submissions should be the creative work of one individual. No group submissions.
  4. Videos should be no more than 60 seconds (one minute) in length; videos longer than one minute will be disqualified.
  5. Ensure that you do not violate any copyrights in your video. Copyright violation – or potential for violation – is cause for disqualification. It’s also illegal, so best to avoid.
  6. Only one submission per competitor.
  7. As always, the decision of the judges is final.

Cite your sources

All sources, whether your original images/video/content or those by someone else, MUST be cited in a closing slide on the video. The closing citation slide is in addition to your 60-second GradFlix.

More about copyright

Copyright infringement happens if you use someone else’s creative work – music, illustration, graphics, photos, written work, etc. – without their permission.With copyright, it is best to err on the side of caution. If you aren’t sure about the copyright on a piece of music or an illustration, don’t use it.

The presentation of research in GradFlix will be publicly accessible. (i.e., in the public domain.)

The presentation of the research will not affect any pre-existing rights following the competition, except as stated below:

  • Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to sign non-disclosure statements. If your research is being/has been conducted under contract with an outside sponsor, students should discuss the related contractual terms of confidentiality and intellectual property with their supervisor before participating in this competition.
  • All videos submitted to this competition are open to the public at large, and may be posted to a public website.
  • Any data or information discussed or presented in video submissions should be considered ‘public’. If your research includes confidential or culturally sensitive material we advise that you discuss your competition entry with your supervisor(s) before entering GradFlix.

Four prizes will be awarded:

  • 1st: $1,000
  • 2nd: $500
  • 3rd : $250
  • People’s choice: $250

Top winners receive the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Communication Graduate Research (to be awarded at the Graduate Recognition Awards in Fall 2022).

Deadline to register for the competition: February 28 at 10 a.m.

  • Please note that you do not need a completed video to register for the competition.Videos are not required at this time.

Video deadline: March 11 at 9 a.m.

  • Instructions to upload videos will be sent out after the registration deadline

Preliminary judging begins on March 15

Final showcase happens on April 5 on YouTube Live

GradFlix Resources

GradFlix Information and Training Session – Social Sciences and Humanities

Featuring McMaster communications experts from the Faculty of the Humanities. But don’t let the title fool you! Students from ALL faculties will get some fantastic communication and technical tips from this team.

Lyons New Media Centre

Grad Studies has partnered with the Lyons New Media Centre to bring students resources and a virtual workshop, to help you craft your video! with the creation of their videos. Lyons New Media Centre has lots of resources that graduate students can access.

Looking for some hands-on help or advice? You can book one-on-one appointments with a Media Specialist at Lyons.

The Art of GradFlix Workshop

John Bandler, McMaster professor emeritus, and Megan Vierhout, finalist of our inaugural GradFlix and past 3MT competitions, recently led a workshop about communicating your research through GradFlix. Learn some great tips about script writing, voice, storytelling, and more!

John Bandler offers one-on-one coaching and support to McMaster grad students. Please email John at for details.

Information Box Group

Wondering what a GradFlix looks like? Visit McMaster SGS on Youtube

Visit the 2021 McMaster GradFlix finalists on your Youtube channel to find some inspiration for your GradFlix!

Three Minute Thesis presentations


You can find many tutorials online, covering everything from storyboarding to stop-motion animation.

Stop motion animation with cut paper

How I plan shots and transitions

LinkedIn Learning collection Go to LinkedIn

The McMaster community has free access to LinkedIn Learning modules. We have created a brief collection of videomaking tutorials, but you are likely to find many more with a search.

If you don’t know how to access LinkedIn, visit UTS for more information about how to access.

SSHRC Storytellers Visit SSHRC Storytellers on Youtube

GradFlix is an opportunity for our grad researchers from Humanities and Social Sciences, to get valuable hands-on experience in sharing their research in a creative and compelling way. Watch past SSHRC Storyteller finalist and McMaster PhD candidate Michelle Ogrodnik.

Visit SSHRC Storytellers on Youtube.

GradFlix Contact Form

Have a question about our 2022 GradFlix video competition? Use the contact form below.

Contact form instructions

  • All fields are required.
  • Includes text fields

The GradFlix contact form is closed for 2022. It will reopen once the next GradFlix competition is announced.