Saturday, November 2, 2019

How to Prepare for Research Defense

Research defense should not be the first venue to critique the output of your paper. It is important that you review the contents of your paper first prior to submission. The research panel expected that your paper is all set and you are entirely prepared for the presentation. For the majority of the students, research defense is a nerve-wracking experience. However, it shouldn’t be that way.
        If you are well prepared, the research defense should go on smoothly. Remember, you are the ones who made the study; therefore, you are the first person to understand your study better among other people in the room. Just think of the research panels as validators, not critiques. So how do we describe that you are indeed ‘well-prepared’ for research defense’? This means that (1) you have enough time to review, check, re-check your paper prior to submission; (2) you have enough time to prepare yourself for oral presentation; and lastly, (3) because of the long preparation, you became very familiar of the contents and the needed documents of the manuscript. Below are the guidelines on how to prepare for the big day.

Prior to the Submission of the Paper/Manuscript
Check the entire study for important discussions; the following questions should be discussed in your manuscript.

1.      Introduction
1.1   What is the problem of the study?
1.2   What was the need to conduct the study?
1.3   What is the research gap?
1.4   What is the relevance of the theoretical findings to the findings of your study?
1.5   Does the statement of the problem reflect in the conceptual paradigm?
1.6    Is the Review of Related Literature intensively discussed?
1.7   Were the variables of the study discussed?
1.8    How does the theoretical foundation of the study contribute to the findings of the study?

2.      Methods
2.1             Is the research design discussed?
2.2             What was the sampling technique used?
2.3             How was the sample computed? What was the basis of the sample size?
2.4             How were the respondents recruited?
2.5             What are the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the respondents?
2.6          Were the reliability and validity tests discussed? Were the results of the reliability and validity test included in the discussion?
2.7             Do the statistical analyses answer the statement of the problem?
2.8             Were the assumptions of statistical tests discussed?
2.9             Was the ethical consideration discussed?

3.    Results
        3.1    Did the instrument and statistical analyses accurately depict the results?
  3.2    Were the results backed up by literature?
  3.3    What are the recommendation and the implications of the study?

4. Title. Does the title reflect the most important findings of the study?
5. Check citations and references. Majority of the studies should come from published sources.
6. Check that the institutional format for research is followed.
7. Check appendices for:
1.   copies of the instrument,
2.   ethics approval,
3.   informed consent,
4.   certificates of appearance,
5.   minutes of the meetings,
6.   summary of transcripts of interviews,
7.   list of key informants: names, position, address, pictures to support veracity,
8.   letters of permission to conduct the study,
9.    actual printouts of statistical tests from the computer which is unformatted,
10. certificates of third party experts such as editing, plagiarism, grammar check, interpretation, content reviewers both practitioners and scholars, and
11.  Curriculum vitae.

After Submission of the Paper/Manuscript and Before the Oral Presentation
It is essential that you are also very familiar to the point that you nearly memorized the specific pages of the contents of the paper. This is important for easy retrieval of the content during Q&A. Also, the research panel will gauge how well you know your document. It is quite awkward to look pages after pages of your paper in front of the research panel.

1. Familiarize the table of contents with specific pages.
2. Put dog ears on the different parts of the paper for easy retrieval.
3. Familiarize/memorize table titles, significant numeric results, interpretation, highest ratings, the lowest rating, and author support.
4. Familiarize/memorize every recommendation and the table titles and pages that support them.
5. Familiarize/memorize the structure of each part like how the introduction was written, the content of each paragraph.

It is also important to assume different questions from the research panel. Below are some examples commonly asked during oral defense:

1.      Why did you choose this study?
2.      How is your study different from other studies?
3.  What new knowledge will your study contribute to the field of *medicine (*for example)?
4.      What are the most important findings in your study?
5.      What are the implications of your study?

Before Oral Defense:
1.      Prepare the required presentation format during the oral defense. Practice your presentation at least 3 times. By practicing your oral presentation, you will be able to identify some missing points and you become very familiar with the terms of the contents.  Also, you will be able to identify the length of the presentation. Take note that there is a time limit in every presentation that you must follow. The oral presentation may vary from 7 to 12 minutes. It depends on the rules given by the research instructor or the institution.
2.      Choose an appropriate dress.
3.      Prepare the things needed for the oral defense: laptop, projector, a copy of the manuscript, necessary documents, and writing materials for the minutes of the oral defense.
4.      Relax. If you have done all the necessary preparations, the rest will lie in the hands of the research panel.
5.     Appear confident. If you look tense, the research panel might misinterpret it that you are not ready. Of course, it is normal to be nervous, but don’t let your nervousness wreck all your preparations.
6.      Do not say something you don’t know. Remember ‘anything you will say will be used against you’.
7.  Defend your research but do not argue with your research panel. Be polite. They are there to help you. If they give suggestions, you may say ‘thank you for your suggestion(s), we (I) will take note of that...’

I hope these guidelines find it useful. Share this article with your friends with an ongoing thesis. I wish you well in your research endeavors. 

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