Feeling nervous because of your upcoming thesis or dissertation defense? Worry not as we will provide you with nine often asked questions during defense and tips on how to successfully answer them to make you be more prepared for that moment.
For any college and university graduate students, being familiar with what is a research defense is essential. Many colleges and universities all over the world are requiring their students to undergo a thesis or dissertation defense to be able to complete their course curriculum, as such it is important in your student’s life.
Although some might say that a research defense is more of a formality as the actual research is already finished, still it not a reason to pay less attention to it, or worst, take it for granted. As a researcher, it is during this moment that we can prove how deep is our own understand of our field and focus area.
During a research defense, you are asked to defend your research to an assigned committee panel. You will be asked questions concerning your research, most of which aims to require you to think critically about your own research.
So if you are having a hard time preparing for your upcoming research defense, here are some often asked questions during a thesis and dissertation defense that may be able to pop up during your course of defense. We hope that these questions can help you become more ready to face your committee panel in the future.
The first question would be, “What is your study about and why did you choose this?”
In this question, what you need is to explain the what and the why of your research. You need to be concise in articulating the importance of your research to further justify your answer.
Secondly is “How did your research question evolve during the research process?”
You can provide a narrative of how your research may have evolved throughout research. It is quite common for the research goals to shift during conducting the research as there are some realizations regarding the research that you might be able to realize only during the actual conducting of research. You can justify it by providing more details as to why it is what it is.
Thirdly, “How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?”
Start by explaining how the existing research informed your methodology choice. To articulate what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how, at the same time justifying every methodological choice you made should be your main point when answering.
In the fourth question, “What are the main shortcomings and limitations of your design?”
Remember that you can highlight the weaknesses of your design in this question. Consider both its practical and theoretical limitations to further elaborate your answer.
The fifth question would be, “How did your findings relate to the existing literature?”
While it is quite common for findings to contrast with existing research, the need to discuss the potential reasons as to why your findings may contrast against the literature is a vital component of your answer.
In the sixth question, “What we’re your hey findings in relation to the research question?”
Focus your answer on the findings that directly address your research question.
On the other hand, in the seventh question, “Were there any findings that surprised you?”
Discussing any interesting data points or observations that arose should be the point of your answer. Also, mention any findings that weren’t related to the research questions that you find interesting.
In the eighth question, “What biases may exist in your research?”
Familiarize yourself with biases that may have an impact on your research by preparing a list of all potential biases and your mitigation responses for every bias.
Lastly, the ninth question is “How can your findings be put into practice?”
You need to clearly distinguish between the practical and theoretical contributions of your research. Try to revisit your introduction chapter to align the practical contribution to your findings.
Other than these often asked questions, here are also some more tips to help you have a successful research defense:
Start by learning how the defense will be organized to know what to expect. Try attending other defense to have a better feel of what to expect during the actual defense. You can also talk to colleagues who have successfully defended their research to learn more about the dynamics of defense, and at the same time, learn from their past experiences.
Anticipate possible questions and take some time to practice to prepare yourself for your upcoming defense. Don’t forget to dress presentably during the defense itself. How you present yourself can affect how the committee will see and treat you and lastly be polite when answering and don’t interrupt a committee member during the questioning and clarification stage of your defense.
Remember, you know your research more than the committee panel. Just try to remain focused and confident during the course of the defense and you can be successful as well.