Preparing For Your Dissertation Defense
13 Key Questions To Expect In The Viva Voce
By: Derek Jansen (MBA) & David Phair (PhD) . Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2021
Preparing for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a “viva voce”) is a formidable task . All your hard work over the years leads you to this one point, and you’ll need to defend yourself against some of the most experienced researchers you’ve encountered so far.
It’s natural to feel a little nervous.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the most important questions you should be able to answer in your viva voce, whether it’s for a Masters or PhD degree. Naturally, they might not arise in exactly the same form (some may not come up at all), but if you can answer these questions well, it means you’re in a good position to tackle your oral defense.
Viva Voce Prep: 13 Essential Questions
- What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?
- How did your research questions evolve during the research process?
- How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?
- How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?
- How generalisable and valid are the findings?
- What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?
- How did your findings relate to the existing literature?
- What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?
- Were there any findings that surprised you?
- What biases may exist in your research?
- How can your findings be put into practice?
- How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?
- If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?
#1: What is your study about and why did you choose to research this in particular?
This question, a classic party starter, is pretty straightforward.
What the dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to clearly articulate your research aims, objectives and research questions in a concise manner. Concise is the keyword here – you need to clearly explain your research topic without rambling on for a half-hour. Don’t feel the need to go into the weeds here – you’ll have many opportunities to unpack the details later on.
In the second half of the question, they’re looking for a brief explanation of the justification of your research. In other words, why was this particular set of research aims, objectives and questions worth addressing? To address this question well in your oral defense, you need to make it clear what gap existed within the research and why that gap was worth filling.
#2: How did your research questions evolve during the research process?
Good research generally follows a long and winding path . It’s seldom a straight line (unless you got really lucky). What they’re assessing here is your ability to follow that path and let the research process unfold.
Specifically, they’ll want to hear about the impact that the literature review process had on you in terms of shaping the research aims, objectives and research questions. For example, you may have started with a certain set of aims, but then as you immersed yourself in the literature, you may have changed direction. Similarly, your initial fieldwork findings may have turned out some unexpected data that drove you to adjust or expand on your initial research questions.
Long story short – a good defense involves clearly describing your research journey , including all the twists and turns. Adjusting your direction based on findings in the literature or the fieldwork shows that you’re responsive , which is essential for high-quality research.
#3: How did you decide on which sources to include in your literature review?
A comprehensive literature review is the foundation of any high-quality piece of research. With this question, your dissertation or thesis committee are trying to assess which quality criteria and approach you used to select the sources for your literature review.
Typically, good research draws on both the seminal work in the respective field and more recent sources . In other words, a combination of the older landmark studies and pivotal work, along with up-to-date sources that build on to those older studies. This combination ensures that the study has a rock-solid foundation but is not out of date.
So, make sure that your study draws on a mix of both the “classics” and new kids on the block, and take note of any major evolutions in the literature that you can use as an example when asked this question in your viva voce.
#4: How did you design your study and why did you take this approach?
This is a classic methodological question that you can almost certainly expect in some or other shape.
What they’re looking for here is a clear articulation of the research design and justification of each choice . So, you need to be able to walk through each design choice and clearly explain both what you did and why you did it. The why is particularly important – you need to be able to justify each choice you made by clearly linking your design back to your research aims, objectives and research questions, while also taking into account practical constraints.
To ensure you cover every base, check out our research methodology vlog post , as well as our post covering the Research Onion .
#5: How generalizable and valid are the findings?
This question is aimed at specifically digging into your understanding of the sample and how that relates to the population, as well as potential validity issues in your methodology.
To answer question this well, you’ll need to critically assess your sample and findings and consider if they truly apply to the entire population, as well as whether they assessed what they set out to. Note that there are two components here – generalizability and validity . Generalizability is about how well the sample represents the population. Validity is about how accurately you’ve measured what you intended to measure.
To ace this part of your dissertation defense, make sure that you’re very familiar with the concepts of generalizability , validity and reliability , and how these apply to your research. Remember, you don’t need to achieve perfection – you just need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your research (and how the weaknesses could be improved upon).
Need a helping hand?
#6: What were the main shortcomings and limitations created by your research design?
This question picks up where the last one left off.
As I mentioned, it’s perfectly natural that your research will have shortcomings and limitations as a result of your chosen design and methodology. No piece of research is flawless. Therefore, a good dissertation defense is not about arguing that your work is perfect, but rather it’s about clearly articulating the strengths and weaknesses of your approach.
To address this question well, you need to think critically about all of the potential weaknesses your design may have, as well as potential responses to these (which could be adopted in future research) to ensure you’re well prepared for this question. For a list of common methodological limitations, check out our video about research limitations here .
#7: How did your findings relate to the existing literature?
This common dissertation defense question links directly to your discussion chapter , where you would have presented and discussed the findings in relation to your literature review.
What your dissertation or thesis committee is assessing here is your ability to compare your study’s findings to the findings of existing research . Specifically, you need to discuss which findings aligned with existing research and which findings did not. For those findings that contrasted against existing research, you should also explain what you believe to be the reasons for this.
As with many questions in a viva voce, it’s both the what and the why that matter here. So, you need to think deeply about what the underlying reasons may be for both the similarities and differences between your findings and those of similar studies.
#8: What were your key findings in relation to the research questions?
This question is similar to the last one in that it too focuses on your research findings. However, here the focus is specifically on the findings that directly relate to your research questions (as opposed to findings in general).
So, a good way to prepare for this question is to step back and revisit your research questions . Ask yourself the following:
- What exactly were you asking in those questions, and what did your research uncover concerning them?
- Which questions were well answered by your study and which ones were lacking?
- Why were they lacking and what more could be done to address this in future research?
Conquering this part dissertation defense requires that you focus squarely on the research questions. Your study will have provided many findings (hopefully!), and not all of these will link directly to the research questions. Therefore, you need to clear your mind of all of the fascinating side paths your study may have lead you down and regain a clear focus on the research questions .
#9: Were there any findings that surprised you?
This question is two-pronged.
First, you should discuss the surprising findings that were directly related to the original research questions . Going into your research, you likely had some expectations in terms of what you would find, so this is your opportunity to discuss the outcomes that emerged as contrary to what you initially expected. You’ll also want to think about what the reasons for these contrasts may be.
Second, you should discuss the findings that weren’t directly related to the research questions, but that emerged from the data set . You may have a few or you may have none – although generally there are a handful of interesting musings that you can glean from the data set. Again, make sure you can articulate why you find these interesting and what it means for future research in the area.
What the committee is looking for in this type of question is your ability to interpret the findings holistically and comprehensively , and to respond to unexpected data. So, take the time to zoom out and reflect on your findings thoroughly.
#10: What biases may exist in your research?
Biases… we all have them.
For this question, you’ll need to think about potential biases in your research , in the data itself but also in your interpretation of the data. With this question, your committee is assessing whether you have considered your own potential biases and the biases inherent in your analysis approach (i.e. your methodology). So, think carefully about these research biases and be ready to explain how these may exist in your study.
In an oral defense, this question is often followed up with a question on how the biases were mitigated or could be mitigated in future research. So, give some thought not just to what biases may exist, but also the mitigation measures (in your own study and for future research).
#11: How can your findings be put into practice?
Another classic question in the typical viva voce.
With this question, your committee is assessing your ability to bring your findings back down to earth and demonstrate their practical value and application. Importantly, this question is not about the contribution to academia or the overall field of research (we’ll get to that next) – it is specifically asking about how this newly created knowledge can be used in the real world.
Naturally, the actionability of your findings will vary depending on the nature of your research topic. Some studies will produce many action points and some won’t. If you’re researching marketing strategies within an industry, for example, you should be able to make some very specific recommendations for marketing practitioners in that industry.
To help you flesh out points for this question, look back at your original justification for the research (i.e. in your introduction and literature review chapters). What were the driving forces that led you to research your specific topic? That justification should help you identify ways in which your findings can be put into practice.
#12: How has your research contributed to current thinking in the field?
While the previous question was aimed at practical contribution, this question is aimed at theoretical contribution . In other words, what is the significance of your study within the current body of research? How does it fit into the existing research and what does it add to it?
This question is often asked by a field specialist and is used to assess whether you’re able to place your findings into the research field to critically convey what your research contributed. This argument needs to be well justified – in other words, you can’t just discuss what your research contributed, you need to also back each proposition up with a strong why .
To answer this question well, you need to humbly consider the quality and impact of your work and to be realistic in your response. You don’t want to come across as arrogant (“my work is groundbreaking”), nor do you want to undersell the impact of your work. So, it’s important to strike the right balance between realistic and pessimistic .
This question also opens the door to questions about potential future research . So, think about what future research opportunities your study has created and which of these you feel are of the highest priority.
#13: If you could redo your research, how would you alter your approach?
This question is often used to wrap up a viva voce as it brings the discussion full circle.
Here, your committee is again assessing your ability to clearly identify and articulate the limitations and shortcomings of your research, both in terms of research design and topic focus . Perhaps, in hindsight, it would have been better to use a different analysis method or data set. Perhaps the research questions should have leaned in a slightly different direction. And so on.
This question intends to assess whether you’re able to look at your work critically , assess where the weaknesses are and make recommendations for the future. This question often sets apart those who did the research purely because it was required, from those that genuinely engaged with their research. So, don’t hold back here – reflect on your entire research journey ask yourself how you’d do things differently if you were starting with a blank canvas today.
Recap: The 13 Key Dissertation Defense Questions
To recap, here are the 13 questions you need to be ready for to ace your dissertation or thesis oral defense:
As I mentioned, this list of dissertation defense questions is certainly not exhaustive – don’t assume that we’ve covered every possible question here. However, these questions are quite likely to come up in some shape or form in a typical dissertation or thesis defense, whether it’s for a Master’s degree, PhD or any other research degree. So, you should take the time to make sure you can answer them well.
If you need assistance preparing for your dissertation defense or viva voce, get in touch with us to discuss 1-on-1 coaching. We can critically review your research and identify potential issues and responses, as well as undertake a mock oral defense to prepare you for the pressures and stresses on the day.
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our research writing mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Interesting. I appreciate!
My field is International Trade
This is a full course on defence. I was fabulously enlightened and I gained enough confidence for my upcoming Masters Defence.
There are many lessons to learn and the simplicity in presentationmakes thee reader say “YesI can”
This is so helping… it has Enlightened me on how to answer specific questions. I pray to make it through for my upcoming defense
Lovely to hear that 🙂
Really educative and beneficial
Interesting. On-point and elaborate. And comforting too! Thanks.
Thank you very much for the enlightening me, be blessed
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Dissertation Proposal Defense: 12 Tips for Effective Preparation
Published by steve tippins on may 11, 2020 may 11, 2020.
Last Updated on: 30th August 2022, 04:25 am
The dissertation proposal defense is a nerve-wracking time for even the most hardened of doctoral students.
Even a pirate (writing his dissertation on effective cutlass techniques), will quake a bit in his boots before delivering his dissertation proposal defense.
However, it doesn’t need to be a stressful time.
As a longtime Dissertation Committee Chair and committee member, I’ve overseen more dissertation proposal defenses than I can count. I’ve also helped students through the process as a coach .
If you follow these tips for preparing and delivering your presentation, you shouldn’t have any problem passing your proposal defense.
Dissertation Proposal Defense Tips
Preparing for your Dissertation Proposal Defense
1. anticipate questions. .
In your presentation, try to answer all of the questions you expect your committee to ask. That way, you control the material. Your committee will be more satisfied with your preparation and understanding and it will be less likely that you have to answer questions that you aren’t prepared for.
2. Look for Weaknesses.
If there are potential weaknesses (in your study, proposal, or presentation), address them ahead of time. Ask peers or mentors to review your proposal or presentation for weaknesses. Look at it yourself with a critical eye. Even if you’re not able to eliminate a weakness, take steps to address it as best you can so that your committee can be confident that you’re aware of it and able to handle it.
Ideally, you would practice with someone who has been a committee member before. They’ll point out the types of questions they would see your committee asking, so you can prepare for those. I can’t understate the value of having this kind of feedback beforehand so that you can properly prepare. I offer this service as part of my dissertation coaching package .
4. Avoid Wordiness on PowerPoint Slides .
Most dissertation proposal defenses have PowerPoints. Don’t put too many words on the slides! People will start reading the slides instead of paying attention to you. Then they’re off somewhere else which will produce questions that you’ve already answered when they weren’t paying attention.
5. Be Able to Pronounce the Words Correctly.
This might sound obvious, but as a dissertation committee member , I’ve heard far too many students struggle through pronunciations of important terminology. This is probably because, up until this point, they’ve only read them and not spoken them out loud.
However, it gives the committee the impression that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Make sure you can properly pronounce all the words you plan on using (like “phenomenological” and “anthropomorphism,”).
6. Watch Recordings of Previous Defenses.
Some schools have recordings of previous defenses. Listen to one or two. See how the procedure goes. Even if it’s not anything in your discipline, it will still help you get familiar with the procedure itself, which will help you be more comfortable when the time comes.
During your Dissertation Proposal Defense:
7. breathe . .
I’ve seen way too many people try to do their dissertation proposal defense seemingly in one breath. Give your committee time to hear and understand what you’re saying. Remember to leave some moments of silence to allow your audience to digest what you say. Also remember that one second of actual time feels like about thirty minutes to someone who’s giving an important presentation. Breathe.
8. Remember: They Want to Pass You.
If you’ve gotten to the point where your committee has scheduled a dissertation proposal defense for you, that means they believe that you can pass it. They want to pass you. Remember that.
They’re not out to screw you, they’re not out for “gotchas.” They’re saying, “we believe you’re ready, show us that’s true.” While they will be rigorous in their evaluation because they have a responsibility to make sure that they don’t allow you to move forward until you are ready to, it’s helpful to remember that they believe you can pass.
9. Answer the Question, No More.
When committee members ask questions, answer only the question–don’t give them anything more than that. Imagine that you’re a witness in a courtroom (or don’t if that makes you more nervous). Committee members value direct, relevant answers and often find tangents irrelevant and frustrating.
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10. Dialogue With Your Committee.
If the committee disagrees with something you said, it can be a discussion. You don’t need to just roll over and say “Yes, you’re right. I made a mistake and I’m very bad.” That’s not what your committee wants to hear, either.
A much better response would be, “I hear what you’re saying, however, this is the reason I’m going in this other direction. What do you think about that?” So you’re beginning to engage in discussions as a scholar. Your committee will be impressed by your ability to think critically and your willingness to engage in dialogue.
However, do not make it adversarial. It’s incredibly important to be respectful in these conversations. After all, your committee members have significant control over your life for as long as you’re writing your dissertation.
11. Make Life Easy for Your Committee.
It’s always good to send your committee members a copy of your PowerPoint presentation and the most recent copy of your proposal the day before the defense. They likely already have a copy, but when in doubt, make their lives easier. It doesn’t cost you anything. Someone might accidentally have an old copy, or might take them some time to find the copy they have. You want their life to be as easy as possible so they can focus on moving you forward.
12. Pay Attention to Time.
Ask your Chair (in the preparation stage) how long you have to make your presentation. It’s extraordinarily important to stay within this timeframe. If you’re told 25 minutes but you take 50 minutes, committee members are predisposed to say “why isn’t this person better prepared, and why are they wasting my time?”
Likewise, if you run through a 30-minute presentation in ten minutes (nervousness can sometimes lead to very fast talking–that’s why it’s important to practice beforehand), your committee will be wondering why you didn’t use the whole time that was allotted to you. And you’ll likely have to field a lot of questions you weren’t prepared for.
Dissertation Proposal Defense Summary
As long as you prepare properly, your dissertation proposal defense should be nothing to worry about. Your committee thinks you’re ready: all you have to do is show them you’re right.
If you’d like help preparing for your defense, or if you’d like to reduce the amount of time it takes to finish your dissertation, take a look at my Dissertation Coaching Services .
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Steve Tippins, PhD, has thrived in academia for over thirty years. He continues to love teaching in addition to coaching recent PhD graduates as well as students writing their dissertations. Learn more about his dissertation coaching and career coaching services. Book a Free Consultation with Steve Tippins
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13 Tips to Prepare for Your PhD Dissertation Defense
How well do you know your project? Years of experiments, analysis of results, and tons of literature study, leads you to how well you know your research study. And, PhD dissertation defense is a finale to your PhD years. Often, researchers question how to excel at their thesis defense and spend countless hours on it. Days, weeks, months, and probably years of practice to complete your doctorate, needs to surpass the dissertation defense hurdle.
In this article, we will discuss details of how to excel at PhD dissertation defense and list down some interesting tips to prepare for your thesis defense.
Table of Contents
What Is Dissertation Defense?
Dissertation defense or Thesis defense is an opportunity to defend your research study amidst the academic professionals who will evaluate of your academic work. While a thesis defense can sometimes be like a cross-examination session, but in reality you need not fear the thesis defense process and be well prepared.
What are the expectations of committee members.
Choosing the dissertation committee is one of the most important decision for a research student. However, putting your dissertation committee becomes easier once you understand the expectations of committee members.
The basic function of your dissertation committee is to guide you through the process of proposing, writing, and revising your dissertation. Moreover, the committee members serve as mentors, giving constructive feedback on your writing and research, also guiding your revision efforts.
The dissertation committee is usually formed once the academic coursework is completed. Furthermore, by the time you begin your dissertation research, you get acquainted to the faculty members who will serve on your dissertation committee. Ultimately, who serves on your dissertation committee depends upon you.
Some universities allow an outside expert (a former professor or academic mentor) to serve on your committee. It is advisable to choose a faculty member who knows you and your research work.
How to Choose a Dissertation Committee Member?
- Avoid popular and eminent faculty member
- Choose the one you know very well and can approach whenever you need them
- A faculty member whom you can learn from is apt.
- Members of the committee can be your future mentors, co-authors, and research collaborators. Choose them keeping your future in mind.
How to Prepare for Dissertation Defense?
1. Start Your Preparations Early
Thesis defense is not a 3 or 6 months’ exercise. Don’t wait until you have completed all your research objectives. Start your preparation well in advance, and make sure you know all the intricacies of your thesis and reasons to all the research experiments you conducted.
2. Attend Presentations by Other Candidates
Look out for open dissertation presentations at your university. In fact, you can attend open dissertation presentations at other universities too. Firstly, this will help you realize how thesis defense is not a scary process. Secondly, you will get the tricks and hacks on how other researchers are defending their thesis. Finally, you will understand why dissertation defense is necessary for the university, as well as the scientific community.
3. Take Enough Time to Prepare the Slides
Dissertation defense process harder than submitting your thesis well before the deadline. Ideally, you could start preparing the slides after finalizing your thesis. Spend more time in preparing the slides. Make sure you got the right data on the slides and rephrase your inferences, to create a logical flow to your presentation.
4. Structure the Presentation
Do not be haphazard in designing your presentation. Take time to create a good structured presentation. Furthermore, create high-quality slides which impresses the committee members. Make slides that hold your audience’s attention. Keep the presentation thorough and accurate, and use smart art to create better slides.
5. Practice Breathing Techniques
Watch a few TED talk videos and you will notice that speakers and orators are very fluent at their speech. In fact, you will not notice them taking a breath or falling short of breath. The only reason behind such effortless oratory skill is practice — practice in breathing technique.
Moreover, every speaker knows how to control their breath. Long and steady breaths are crucial. Pay attention to your breathing and slow it down. All you need I some practice prior to this moment.
6. Create an Impactful Introduction
The audience expects a lot from you. So your opening statement should enthrall the audience. Furthermore, your thesis should create an impact on the members; they should be thrilled by your thesis and the way you expose it.
The introduction answers most important questions, and most important of all “Is this presentation worth the time?” Therefore, it is important to make a good first impression , because the first few minutes sets the tone for your entire presentation.
7. Maintain Your Own List of Questions
While preparing for the presentation, make a note of all the questions that you ask yourself. Try to approach all the questions from a reader’s point of view. You could pretend like you do not know the topic and think of questions that could help you know the topic much better.
The list of questions will prepare you for the questions the members may pose while trying to understand your research. Attending other candidates’ open discussion will also help you assume the dissertation defense questions.
8. Practice Speech and Body Language
After successfully preparing your slides and practicing, you could start focusing on how you look while presenting your thesis. This exercise is not for your appearance but to know your body language and relax if need be.
Pay attention to your body language. Stand with your back straight, but relax your shoulders. The correct posture will give you the feel of self-confidence. So, observe yourself in the mirror and pay attention to movements you make.
9. Give Mock Presentation
Giving a trial defense in advance is a good practice. The most important factor for the mock defense is its similarity to your real defense, so that you get the experience that prepares for the actual defense.
10. Learn How to Handle Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. However, it is important to carry on. Do not let the mistakes affect your thesis defense. Take a deep breath and move on to the next point.
11. Do Not Run Through the Presentation
If you are nervous, you would want to end the presentation as soon as possible. However, this situation will give rise to anxiety and you will speak too fast, skipping the essential details. Eventually, creating a fiasco of your dissertation defense .
12. Get Plenty of Rest
Out of the dissertation defense preparation points, this one is extremely important. Obviously, sleeping a day before your big event is hard, but you have to focus and go to bed early, with the clear intentions of getting the rest you deserve.
13. Visualize Yourself Defending Your Thesis
This simple exercise creates an immense impact on your self-confidence. All you have to do is visualize yourself giving a successful presentation each evening before going to sleep. Everyday till the day of your thesis defense, see yourself standing in front of the audience and going from one point to another.
This exercise takes a lot of commitment and persistence, but the results in the end are worth it. Visualization makes you see yourself doing the scary thing of defending your thesis.
If you have taken all these points into consideration, you are ready for your big day. You have worked relentlessly for your PhD degree , and you will definitely give your best in this final step.
Have you completed your thesis defense? How did you prepare for it and how was your experience throughout your dissertation defense ? Do write to us or comment below.
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Dissertation proposal defense.
The intent of the Ph.D. proposal defense is to review and evaluate the content and style of the dissertation proposal and the student's ability to present the ideas orally.
When the prescribed course work is substantially complete as defined by the Advisory Committee, the doctoral student is eligible to present his/her dissertation proposal. There must be at least a six-month period between the date when the proposal has been successfully defended and the final dissertation defense.
A doctoral student's proposal defense consists of the following components:
- A written dissertation proposal that is prepared by the student and presented to the Advisory Committee for review and evaluation.
- An oral presentation of the dissertation proposal, which occurs at least two weeks after the written proposal is submitted to the Advisory Committee.
- An oral and/or written examination(s) to assess the student's preparation in the major and related field(s) of study for conducting the proposed research.
The Advisory Committee will decide whether or not the third portion of the proposal defense will be written or oral. Passing the proposal defense shall require:
- Satisfactory performance on the oral dissertation proposal presentation.
- Satisfactory performance on the formal examination.
- A satisfactory written dissertation proposal, a copy of which will be placed in the student's file.
The Advisory Committee will consider all of the information available to it, including an interview with the student to clarify unresolved issues, and render one of the following decisions:
- The student passes the proposal defense and he/she is encouraged to finish all remaining requirements at the earliest possible time.
- The student passes the defense and, except for identified deficiencies for which the committee will prescribe a remedy, the student is encouraged to finish all remaining requirements at the earliest possible time.
- The student fails the defense but is given permission to repeat it after certain conditions are met.
- The student fails the defense and is asked to withdraw from the program at the end of the term.
Passing the defense requires approval of at least two thirds of the students advisory committee.
A student may appeal the Advisory Committee's decision. Such an appeal must be made in writing to the Graduate Director. The written appeal must contain explicit reasons for requesting that the review be conducted. The appeal must be filed within two weeks from the date the student is notified in writing by the Graduate Director of the Advisory Committee's decision. The Graduate Director will then present his case to the Graduate Committee for a final decision.
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How to Write the Dissertation Aims and Objectives – Guide & Examples
Published by Grace Graffin at January 27th, 2023 , Revised On February 8, 2023
Aims and objectives are among the essential aspects of a dissertation. If you write aims and objectives effectively, they can act as a foundation to give your research clarity and focus.
This article will provide you with all the necessary information regarding aims and objectives, their differences, writing tips , and the common mistakes you should avoid while writing them.
The aim is often a single sentence or a short paragraph that describes your dissertation’s main goal and intent. It tells what you hope to achieve at the end. You should write the aim so that it becomes identifiable when it is achieved with the completion of your dissertation .
The aim is written in a subsection of the introduction to clarify the overall purpose of the dissertation .
Example: It is often observed that employees in culturally diverse workplaces struggle to work effectively in a team. A probable cause of this issue is bullying at the workplace. This research investigates the impact of bullying on employee job satisfaction at culturally diverse workplaces and the resulting loss of employee productivity. This research will use surveys and case study analysis to analyze the impact of bullying on employees.
The objectives in a dissertation describe the ways through which you intend to achieve the research aim. They are specific statements that break down the aim into several smaller key sections of the overall research. Suitable objectives can help you stay focused and conduct research in the direction of your aim.
The number of objectives should be realistic; usually, between three to six, and each one should be possible to achieve. The following example shows the objectives for the previously-mentioned dissertation aim.
1. identification of the behaviors that are considered as bullying 2. exploring the factors that cause bullying at a culturally diverse workplace 3. analyzing the relationship between bullying and job satisfaction of employees 4. providing suitable recommendations on minimizing the bullying at the workplace
The objectives of a dissertation should be SMART.
- Specific: should be precise, focused, and well-defined
- Measurable: the progress should be measurable, and you should be able to determine when you have achieved an objective.
- Achievable: you should be able to carry out the required action within your available resources
- Relevant: should be related to the dissertation aim
- Time-bound: should be possible within the available time
Differences between aims and objectives
Aims and objectives are often mixed, but there are clear differences between them.
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How to write aims and objectives?
There is no particular way or standard to write the aims and objectives. Different researchers have different writing styles, and often it can be influenced by your research supervisor. However, you should follow certain basic principles while writing aims and objectives in a dissertation.
Writing the aim statement
The aim statement should cover the following essential elements.
- Why is the research necessary? (covers the underlying problem on which the study is to be conducted)
- What is the research about? (description of the research title)
- How are you going to conduct it? (a brief statement of intended research methods)
An appropriate aim clearly defines the research purpose without confusing the reader. If you struggle to explain your research and its importance in simpler terms, you should consider refining your research to clarify it further.
The objectives describe how you would achieve your research aim. You can do this through the following steps,
- The first one to two objectives can be applied to the literature review . (Verbs to be used: investigate, examine, study)
- One objective can be applied to the methodology portion. (Verbs to be used: collect, select, demonstrate, estimate)
- Two to three objectives can cover the critical evaluation or discussion chapters (Verbs to be used: analyze, compare, evaluate)
- The final objective will cover the conclusion or recommendation portion. (Verbs to be used: conclude, recommend)
Instead of writing like a paragraph, the objectives should be written as a numbered list to give them more clarity.
How many aims and objectives should be there?
It depends upon the topic of your research and mainly upon your supervisor’s requirements. Generally, a dissertation has a single broad statement as the research aim. However, it is acceptable to include a main aim along with two to three subsidiary aims.
Similarly, the number of objectives should be realistic and sufficient to measure the progress regarding the achievement of the research aim. Their number can generally vary from three to six depending upon the aim.
Common mistakes to avoid while writing research aims and objectives
- Writing a broad research aim
Writing a broad research aim is a common mistake, and it often becomes difficult to achieve. It may create a problem when you are asked to prove how you have achieved your aims during your viva defense . It would be best to narrow your study to a specific area in the early stages of the dissertation.
- Formulating overlapping research objectives
The objectives should be written such that they are measurable and distinct from each other. If they overlap, it makes it difficult to structure your dissertation properly in specific chapters.
- Setting unrealistic aims
Students often get over-ambitious while describing the research aim and face problems afterward in achieving those aims. You should avoid this mistake and be realistic about what you can achieve in the available time and resources.
Aims and objectives are the sections that require significant time and attention to avoid future hassles while conducting research and writing your dissertation.
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Home Blog Presentation Ideas How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation
How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation
Writing a thesis is stressful but preparing an oral defense can be even more painful. But it doesn’t have to be, with proper preparation and a good presentation you will be able to better equip yourself come time to present your thesis defense.
But what makes a good thesis defense?
A proper presentation helps you with your thesis defense because it helps you to capture the panels attention and give you cues and reminders on what to say as well.
It also helps keep your data organized, while visually looking good and provides a flow structure for the rest of your presentation.
In today’s article we will be giving you The Right PowerPoint Templates for Your Thesis Defense and a powerful outline composed of best practices and layouts are specifically designed to help you defend your thesis in both written and oral presentation.
On the next segments of this article, we’ll walk you through the most feasible process on how to ace this kind of presentation.
Let’s dive into the outline of what makes a great thesis defense.
Thesis Defense Overview
- Type of Degree
Thesis and Dissertation Distinction Varies on Location
Three most common thesis defense myths.
- Literature Review
- Tips During Your Oral Defense
More Quick Tips on How to Present!
A thesis defense is composed of two parts – a thesis and a defense.
Thesis, according to Grad School Hub , represents a student’s collective understanding of his or her program and major.
Universities often include a thesis in every course as one of the final requirements to earn a particular graduate or postgraduate degree.
Thesis, however, isn’t just a mere requirement.
It helps the students to grow out of their shell from their respective discipline and give them the opportunity to present all their findings of their study.
Moreover, some people think a thesis is just a long essay but it’s not. Unlike an essay, a thesis needs to assert something.
This can be considered as one of the most crucial research documents which a student makes during their academic schooling .
On the other hand, a defense is the presentation of the pieces of evidence to support and prove your research.
It’s the most essential part of the thesis process.
Your presentation has to be prepared to answer question from members of the committee and any other panel present, and it’s your job to convince them and defend your thesis with ample proof.
Prior to presenting you have to carefully determine what appropriate evidence should be presented before the panel depending on what thesis you have to defend.
Thesis and Dissertation Distinguished
A thesis or dissertation is usually required to complete a particular graduate degree. And these two words are often used interchangeably by most students when referring to research studies.
But while being almost similar in format or structure, it’s worth to note that they have significant differences that set them apart from each other.
The very reason why thesis and dissertation are treated the same is that these two are both extensive papers. Not just merely long essays like what others are claiming.
Both of these papers are extensive. Which is why students are given ample time, usually the entire last semester at the last year of study, to complete all the requirements and finally acquire their degree.
With regards to structure, both papers are very similar with few differences.
Differences Between Thesis and Dissertation
One of the significant differences of the two is to whom the paper is assigned. A thesis is usually required for those students earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. While a dissertation is for those who want to obtain a doctorate degree.
However, not all students taking a master’s degree are required to make a thesis. Prior to their enrollment, they have been given a choice whether they’ll go for a non-thesis program or with a thesis.
Those who have a plan to escalate their degree to doctorate, eventually should take the path of with thesis. This is to prepare themselves for a more extensive dissertation requirement as doctorate students. Otherwise, they will be only limited to earn a master’s degree.
But above all, the most significant difference between the two papers is the purpose for which it is written.
A thesis, like what has been mentioned above, is being done by students obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree and has the purpose of testing their understanding of the discipline they’re engaged with.
A thesis is focused on obtaining technical expertise.
On the other hand, a dissertation is made for students to come up with an original study that hasn’t already been studied by other researchers.
USA: In the United States of America, they consider thesis as shorter than a dissertation. In fact, aside from being a requirement to graduate in college, a thesis is now also inculcated in master’s degree programs. And since dissertation is more extensive, the thesis is treated as preliminary in gaining a doctorate degree.
Europe: The distinction between the two papers is almost opposite to that of the USA. In Europe, a dissertation is only a broader research study from a post-graduate program and not the making of original research. Instead, educational systems in the said continent treat the doctoral thesis as a more elaborate paper writing.
The difference between a thesis and a dissertation might not seem that big, but it’s important that we know what makes them different.
If your upcoming defense gives you pressure and uneasiness, it could be cause you are not sure what to expect. Today we will dispel three common thesis defense myths that will help you be more confident in your presentation.
“Answer all the questions correctly. Otherwise, you’re thesis won’t get approved.”
You are expected to have a focus on your research.
That being said, you have to study each part of your thesis, every detail, and even your sources.
You have to study and practice how to effectively deliver your presentation.
But don’t overthink to the extent that you’re stressing yourself to know everything perfectly.
Don’t overstress if can’t answer one of the questions, this doesn’t necessarily mean the committee won’t approve your thesis.
You should know that research is a continuous study.
So you should expect that your committee will always be able to find a gap in your study to fill in the future related researches.
So in times you don’t exactly know the answer, admit it and you’ll learn as they give their sides or suggestions.
Making up an answer will only displease your committee, so it’s be to be upfront, honest and transparent.
“The committee is just there to find holes in your study. They don’t care about you.”
One of the typical descriptions students have of the committee, is that they are just there to poke holes in your thesis.
Going in with this perspective makes standing before them a nerve-wracking experience.
They’re not your enemy.
In fact, they are there to help you polish your study.
They might challenge you with difficult suggestions and tricky questions.
In the end, they will walk you through the process to come up with better results that won’t only benefit you but also your research.
They care about you and your study, and they’re ultimately there to make your thesis and the research better. Seperate yourself from your work and look at it objectively and don’t take their comments personal.
“If your thesis defense isn’t successful, you have to start your thesis all over again”
An unsuccessful defense is one of the worst case fears most students have.
One thing that you should be aware of is when you aren’t able to please your committee, you don’t need to start a new thesis again or go back at square one with your existing paper.
It’s unusual that your committee will ask you to change your topic and start from scratch again.
The fact that you’ve been permitted to defend your study that means your research is almost complete.
They might suggest further details or ask you for minor revisions and that’s normal.
But overall, you need to go into this defense thinking that your presentation will be successful, otherwise you are already setting yourself up for failure with the wrong mindset.
Remember that positive thoughts attract positive results.
Thesis Defense Presentation Structure and Slides Content
1 – title page.
This slide should contain the information that is provided on the title page of your hard copy
- The title of your research paper
- Where you are studying
- Name and details of your course
- Name of Adviser
2 – Introduction
Your introduction slide should provide the committee an idea of the following:
- What is the topic area that you are investigating ?
- What are the specific research questions that you set out to answer?
- Why is this question important to answer?
- What were the objectives of your research?
3 – Literature review
It’s not necessary to cover everything that’s currently understood in the available literature. You may want to present the following:
- Relevant current research that is close to your topic
- Different theories that may apply to your specific area of research
- Areas of weakness that are currently highlighted
4 – Methodology
Make sure to touch the factors below within your process:
- The type of study you have conducted: qualitative, quantitative, or mixed
- The methods that you chose and why
- Details of the population, sampling methods, and other information
- Provide information regarding how you have analyzed the data that you have collected
5 – Results
This part should give the committee / audience a good understanding of what you’ve discovered during your research. It should cover the following:
- An overall description of the data that you collected during your research
- The results of the analysis that you have done on that data
- What were the most significant findings from your data
6 – Discussion
Highlight here the meaning of the findings in relation to your discipline program and the research that you have done:
- What are the major findings and what do they mean with regard to your research
- How do these findings relate to what others have found in the past
- How can you explain any unusual or surprising result
7 – Conclusions
You have to end your presentation with a conclusion summarizing all that you have found within your research. You need to:
- Restate your research questions
- Show how your results answer these questions
- Show what contribution you have made
- State any limitations to the work you have done
- Suggest future research
- Make any recommendations
See Also: How to Create a Great Investors Pitch Deck and Close the Deal
Tips During Your Oral Defense!
Review your materials.
Even if you already feel confident with your upcoming presentation, you still need to review your materials.
You can bring the hard copy of your thesis with you during the defense, but you don’t want to get lost with your presentation when you forgot some specific details and have to scan your papers.
You should know your paper in and out.
Rehearse Your Presentation
It’s not wrong if it will sound like a script when you speak in your oral defense. It’s expected and understandable.
You need to practice your presentation especially when there’s a time restriction given to every presenter.
You only need to prepare enough number of slides that would fit your time limit. A hundred slides aren’t suitable for a 15 to 20-minute presentation nor 10 slides for an hour of defense.
Your rehearsal will be more effective if you practice it in front of an audience.
Note: You will experience a complete silence in the defense room. You might feel awkward because most of the time, you’re the only one speaking out loud. This is completely fine and it’s something you should practice in rehearsal should you be afraid.
Narrow the Presentation of Ideas
Regarding your slides, you don’t have to include everything that’s in your paper. You should narrow down your ideas to the main points and the most important details such as the statistics and findings.
If the members of your committee think you lack details or they want to hear a further explanation, they won’t hesitate to ask you.
Prepare for the Unexpected Questions
The panel tends to challenge the presenters usually through some hard questions.
Its aim is how well do you you have done your research, and how prepared you are.
But as long as you know the ins and outs of your paper, you shouldn’t lose your confidence regardless of which questions they ask.
Just keep in mind that what you’re saying in your oral defense is not in conflict with what is written on the hardcopy you provided them.
What To Do When You Don’t Know the Answer
If the committee asked you a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t make up a baseless answer.
Baseless means out of context answers, or something without proof or backup.
How To Deal With The Nervousness
The committee is expecting you to be nervous. Of course, it’s normal.
However, one effect of being nervous is the changes in your behavior.
There’s a tendency you’ll talk fast that which will make it hard for the committee to understand you.
It might also cause you to have a mental block.
So try to slow down. Take a deep breath.
Inhale, exhale. Remember to breath!
It’s OK to pause and it’s ok to take your time, it’s more important that the committee clearly understand what you are trying to articulate.
- Introduce yourself at the beginning
- Introduce the title of the presentation
- Don’t read your notes if possible
- Don’t speak too fast
- Put an emphasis on what you’re saying, so you don’t sound like monotonous
- Look at your adviser once in a while for possible signs
- Stand on the right of the white screen if you are right-handed so you can easily refer to the slide without giving your back to the committee
- Face the audience when you talk
- Keep an eye contact
- Make sure to keep attention to the reactions of the committee and don’t forget to react in turn
We hoped you enjoyed this article on how to do a proper thesis defense, and how to best prepare for one using proven tips and techniques to help you get through this. Hopefully, after your defense, you will be set as the one in your class to deliver an inspiring graduation speech for your peers. If you got value please remember to share this article. We also recommend you read these Thesis Statement Examples for inspiration to create your own professionally.
1. MasterDoc PowerPoint Template
Creating a Thesis presentation should be a straight forward task; based on your thesis document and following the tips described above you have a high level structure already outlined. The MasterDoc PowerPoint template provides professional layouts with texts and image placeholders; so you can create document like slides using your thesis defense as your content. This template is ideal for a highly detailed documents, where visuals and words unite to illustrate one concept per page. The result is an asset that can be read and digested more quickly than either your thesis document or a presentation created for assisting a speech. A document created with the MasterDoc PowerPoint templates is meant to be printed or distributed, read on screen without the accompaniment of a presenter or used in an e-learning platform as pure learning content.
Use This Template
2. Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template
You had invested a considerable time researching, testing hypothesis and confirming your thesis. Craft your thesis presentation with the same level of detail you applied in your work. Using the Thesis Presentation PowerPoint Template you will focus only in your content and your message. The layouts, images,design and structure will be taken care by the template.
3. Master Thesis PowerPoint Template
The Master Thesis PowerPoint Template is a professional document designed for postgraduate degrees presentations. It provides simple sections that follow the structure and best practices of traditional research thesis presentations. Starting with the introduction to the theory and state of the art scenario; following with hypothesis research and its findings and concluding with the confirmation or negation of the initial thesis statement.
4. Essay Outline PowerPoint Template
Your thesis defense can be accompanied by an essay, that states your thesis and argues about it using several supporting paragraphs. This kind of document is ideal to be an intermediate step between reading assisting to the thesis presentation and reading the complete thesis documentation. It has more information that your thesis defense abstract, but does summarizes the supporting evidence and examples that allows the argument of each idea behind the thesis. You can use the Essay Outline Template to present your Essay outline and create an essay linked to your thesis defense documentation.
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36 Responses to “How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation”
Great job! This has made my thesis presentation a whole lot easier.
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Best regards, Awad
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Preparing for your dissertation or thesis defense (also called a “viva voce”) is a formidable task. All your hard work over the years leads you to this one point, and you’ll need to defend yourself against some of the most experienced researchers you’ve encountered so far.
overall objective of this project is to develop and implement a new head protection system for American football that relies on this magnetic field technology. This objective will be accomplished through the three specific aims outlined below. Aim 1: Develop a helmet liner that effectively reduces impact forces between two helmets. We
The dissertation proposal defense is a nerve-wracking time for even the most hardened of doctoral students. Even a pirate (writing his dissertation on effective cutlass techniques), will quake a bit in his boots before delivering his dissertation proposal defense.
Dissertation defense or Thesis defense is an opportunity to defend your research study amidst the academic professionals who will evaluate of your academic work. While a thesis defense can sometimes be like a cross-examination session, but in reality you need not fear the thesis defense process and be well prepared.
The intent of the Ph.D. proposal defense is to review and evaluate the content and style of the dissertation proposal and the student's ability to present the ideas orally. Schedule When the prescribed course work is substantially complete as defined by the Advisory Committee, the doctoral student is eligible to present his/her dissertation ...
The objectives in a dissertation describe the ways through which you intend to achieve the research aim. They are specific statements that break down the aim into several smaller key sections of the overall research. Suitable objectives can help you stay focused and conduct research in the direction of your aim.
A.H Shemanto. “Dissertation or thesis writing can be the most difficult assignments you ever deal with. If you applied for either PhD or MA programs, the previous four or five years of your life were leading up to thesis writing, dissertation writing, and defense.
This can be considered as one of the most crucial research documents which a student makes during their academic schooling. On the other hand, a defense is the presentation of the pieces of evidence to support and prove your research. It’s the most essential part of the thesis process.