How To Prepare For Research Defense To Save Your PhD Thesis?

How To Prepare For Research Defense To Save Your PhD Thesis?

What Is A Thesis Defense?

Research Defense or PhD Thesis defense is one and the same thing. Quite clearly by its name, a research defense is a process in which the PhD scholars defend their research by answering the questions asked by the research committee members. If you are a student pursuing your doctoral degree in the UK, then you must have heard the term “Viva”. This is what it is called in the UK.

After the PhD thesis submission, the student is also asked to defend their research so that the committee members (including two or three faculty members, college professors, or other professors from different universities have expertise in the same domain). Although the thesis defense is more like a formality in many universities after getting a thesis review, it can still be a serious predicament in case one fails their PhD thesis defense.

Questions You Need To Ask Before The Thesis Defense

Before going for the thesis defense and answering the questions of the research committee members, there are a few questions that the scholars need to ask themselves or their supervisors who know about the thesis defense process.

  • How long will the PhD Thesis Defense be?

Depending on the topic, subject, and university, the timing of a PhD thesis defense can range between 20 minutes to 2 hours. It is a huge difference when it comes to presentations. Therefore, ask your supervisor or committee about the timing and how it is bifurcated between presentations and Q&As.

  • What will be the best way to answer?

Talk to your colleagues or peers who have defended their thesis and ask them about the answers liked by the members. Did they appreciate friendly and frank responses or were they asking for uptight, professional answers? 

  • Who will be attending the defense?

Get the list or names of the members who will be joining the thesis defense and asking you questions. Research about them and their works to study their ideas and opinions. This will help you in answering their questions in light of their work and ideas which they can not deny.

  • Which questions will be asked?

Question anticipation is one of the most important factors as it will help you in preparing for the answers. In a PhD thesis defense, the committee members ask open-ended questions mostly where the scholar has enough options to answer, yet enough reasons to answer incorrectly. Based on your thesis, think of the possible questions which can be asked.

  • How will I defend my thesis?

Practice is the key to defending your thesis. Go through the thesis defense videos available online to see the tools used by scholars for representing their thesis and defending it. Choose whether you will prepare a PowerPoint, a video documentary, or a survey result to put your point in front of the members.

Lastly, when you have finished answering these questions, ask yourself one awakening question.

  • Why is it important to pass?

The biggest motivation for successfully defending your PhD thesis in front of experts and professors in your domain is to remind yourself why you decided to enroll in the PhD program, why you put so much hard work into developing your thesis and what can you lose if you fail in defending your research?

Once you find the answers to these questions, you will be able to find confidence in your research thesis and defend it confidently.

Tips To Prepare For Your PhD Thesis Research Defense

Here are a few tips which can help you in defending your PhD thesis with less stress and more confidence.

  • Dress For The Reason

Your appearance will start defending your thesis much before your words will. Dress up neatly keeping the professional status of the thesis defense in mind. Also, dressing up for the occasion helps in boosting the confidence of the scholar as well.

  • Keep Your Calm

Do not let a nervous breakdown break your career dreams and keep your nerves in check. It is obvious to feel nervous while presenting years of hard work in front of experts and many scholars might also have a stage fear. In such cases, practice speaking in front of your family, friends, and mentor to have a better chance of keeping your cool.

  • Revise Your Thesis

Even if you have developed your thesis from scratch to finish, it is still advised to go through the details once again before the thesis defense. It can help in anticipating questions that can be asked as well as put clarity to crucial points which can be used while preparing for ppt development.

  • Prepare For No Answer Question

It is not just an unnecessary fear to face a question to which your brain refuses to give an answer. And not being able to answer a question based on your thesis can leave a poor impression on the committee members. Therefore, prepare for questions you expect the least. Rephrase the question and ask the member if that is what they ask so that they can repeat the question differently. This will let you have the time to think and develop an answer for the no-answer question.

  • Be Prepared For The Room

Ensure you know about the room or hall where the Ph.D. thesis defense will take place. Check the tools available in the room. Whether there is a screen for ppt or visual representation, check whether the audio files are supported or not, check whether you will be having a mic or not, and so on. Based on the tools, prepare your defense accordingly and make the most out of the room.


General Questions Asked At A Thesis Defense

Thesis Coach has prepared a few general questions which are most probably asked at the thesis research defense. However, please remember that these are not the only questions that are asked and there might be a possibility of none of these questions being used depending on the focus and domain of the study.

  • In a few sentences define your study and the reasons for choosing this particular topic.

  • Which approach did you follow for the thesis development and which limitations did you face?

  • Did your research question evolve during the process? Explain with reasoned answers.

  • What was your motivation for this study? Did the thesis achieve the goal?

  • How applicable and helpful the research findings are to the current literature and knowledge?

  • Were there any unexpected findings?

  • Do you think your research is biased in some areas? Why or why not?

  • Which area or part of society is the most affected by your PhD thesis?

  • How will you justify your research to a person belonging to a different domain?

  • How can the practices and findings from your thesis be put into practical scenarios?

  • If you get a second chance of working on the same topic, which area would you like to redo or change?

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