HOW TO ANSWER THE 25 MOST COMMON PROJECT DEFENSE QUESTIONS
By Chidi Rafael
When I wrote ‘Making Awesome Presentations: Useful Tips for Project Defense’, I never knew it was going to be a great success story. So many success stories and commendations from over 50,000 readers were just enough to make my year and give me more grace to write more.
Well, enough of the hyping! That great piece was still lacking some smaller pieces to make it totally awesome as some ‘Oliver Twist-Like’ fans still needed more to it. Questions like, what should we expect on the D-Day? What type of Questions do they committee members ask? Can you suggest possible questions and answers that will be asked when defending a dissertation or thesis paper? These questions fill my mail box by the day and since I adore my readers, I have decided to write a sequel to ‘Making Awesome Presentations’. This time around, with the help of some senior lecturers, friends and my own experience, I have compiled some common questions you may face on your defense day and suggested answers/approach to these questions. So as usual, Enjoy!
Below are likely questions you may face in a defense room. Take note of these questions and suggested answers, do good by researching more and not limiting yourself to just these questions.
Question 1: In few sentences, can you tell us what your study is all about?
The question is simple right? Many professors will tell you that most students get choked on a question like this. Anyways the question is simple, but a bit technical. To answer this question, you need to know every detail of your research project from chapters one to the end. The question needs an answer in form of a summary of the entire study, therefore, to ace this particular question you need to know every detail in your abstract. If you wrote a good abstract, this question will be a cross over for you.
Question 2: What is your motivation for this study?
Now you must be careful here. This question can be very tricky and it goes a long way in convincing your panel members that your study is worth their time. Another way this question could be twisted is WHAT IS THE RESEARCH PROBLEM?
To answer this question, you may decide to elaborate on the problem investigated in the study. Your zeal to solve this problem becomes your motivation. Do not state financial reasons or the need to graduate as a motivation as you may easily go off point.
Question 3: How will this study contribute to the body of knowledge?
At some point the need for justification will arise and that is when you will be asked to mention how your study will add to the body of knowledge if approved.
Here you will need to use your methods, case study or any unique model or conceptual framework used in the study to defend it. For more information on how to tackle this particular question Click Here
Question 4: What is the significance of the study?
Just like stating how your study will contribute to the body of knowledge, you will need to state the importance of your study. To answer this question, you will need to highlight how your study will aid the government in policy development and implementation, how it will help other students who may wish to conduct research studies on the subject matter and how organizations and the society will benefit from your study.
Question 5: Did you bridge any gap from your study?
Every research study must have a problem. Your ability to solve this problem and explore into areas not yet researched on gives you the full marks allocated for answering this question. You must be able to convince the committee members that your approach is unique and it has covered areas where much have not been done by other researchers. Project Defense Questions
Question 6: What limitations did you encounter?
This is another simple but tricky question. Most times the question is not asked to sympathize with you, rather to get loopholes to criticize your work. To answer this question, you must be careful with words as you may implicate yourself. Be careful enough not to sell out yourself. Do not discourse limitations in your methods or data analysis techniques as this may imply that your study may be biased or not well researched. Use simple limitations like difficulties encountered in combining lectures and project instead of limiting your study.
Question 7: What are your findings?
At this point it is expected of you to present your results or findings from the study in a clear and concise manner. Always link your findings to your research objectives/questions. This will make your panel members to easily be carried along. Project Defense Questions
Question 8: What Methods or Sampling Technique did you employ?
To answer this question, you must be familiar with your research methodology. Your chapter three (in Most Projects) must be at your fingertips. Your ability to justify your sample size and technique will be highly rewarded here. For more tips Click Here
Question 9: Why choose this method?
As discoursed above, you should not only state a particular method for the study. You must also be ready and able to justify why you chose the method in a convincing manner. At this point you are free to quote sources or similar studies where such methods were adopted.
Question 10: Based on your findings what are your recommendations?
Recommendations are very vital in every research study and should not be joked with. In essence you should know your recommendations off hand.
Question 11: Based on your findings what areas will you suggest for future research?
Questions like this are just there to test your reasoning and authority in your research area. Based on your findings in a manageable scope, you should be able to suggest future research areas in line with your study. For example, if I researched on the challenges of personal income tax collection in Nigeria, a good area for further study will be in other forms of taxation such as VAT, Company tax etc.
Question 12: How can your research study be put into practice?
Easy for the computer scientist and engineering students, but a bit tough for management and social sciences since most management/social science projects are more of abstract in nature. However, you should try your best to be realistic here. Relate your study to current trends in your environment, office, economy, government, schools, church etc. Use of relevant examples and illustrations will score you good point here. Project Defense Questions
Question 13: How would you summarize your study to a practitioner in a few sentence?
Your ability to convey technical information from the study will score you good points here.
Question 14: What would you change if you were to conduct the study again?
Hmmm. Be careful! Do not be too jovial. There is a loophole here! Just like your limitations, this question can be asked to identify your week points. Project Defense Questions
Question 15: What is your measurement Instrument?
In simple terms, what data collection method did you employ for the study? Here you state if questionnaires were distributed or data was gotten from secondary sources. For more information on measurement instruments Click Here
Question 16: What are your research variables?
Here you will need to convince your panel members that you know what you are talking about. You need to explain your independent and dependent variable(s) to convince them that you are on point. Your variables are present in your project topic. You need to identify these variables and know their definitions as well to ace your defense. Project Defense Questions
Question 17: What are your research questions?
Very simple question. It should take about 0.015 seconds to answer this question if you are fully prepared.
Question 18: What do you plan to do with your research project after Graduation?
Here you are at liberty to say your mind. If you intend to publish it, this is the best opportunity to discourse and interact with the committee members-maybe a professor there can help.
Question 19: What source of data was employed for the study?
At this point you have to state the source(s) you got data from. In general you have to state whether data was gotten from primary or secondary source or both. You can further convince the committee members by discoursing on literature reviewed for the study-both theoretical and empirical. Project Defense Questions
Question 20: What theories or theoretical framework is your study based on?
This is a very technical question but interesting. Before you step into the defense room, you should know at least two relevant theories that relate to your study. For example, the “impact of motivation on employee productivity” will be based on Maslow’s Theory and other theories of motivation. If you cannot find relevant theories to back up your study, consult your supervisor for help.
Question 21: How would you relate your findings to existing theories on the study?
To ace this question, one will have to read extensively. You should know existing theories on the subject matter as well as empirical studies too. Your ability to link your findings to previous research studies (Whether they agree or not) will go a long way in validating your study. You will score good points here trust me. Project Defense Questions
Question 22: What recommendations do you have for future research?
Your problem solving skill is put to test here. You should be able to identify areas that will need more research.
Question 23: What is the scope of the study?
This one is a cheap or should I say bonus question? Here you quickly state the delimitation of the study in brief.
Question 24: What question(s) do you have for the committee?
Not a likely question in our Nigerian context, but I have defended a seminar project where this question was asked and I was shocked to my marrows. This is an opportunity to interact with your committee members and ask some constructive questions. Do not ask silly or too difficult questions as the goal should be to make the committee members feel as the “boss”. It will also go a long way in showing that you are a brilliant individual. Project Defense Questions
Question 25: Do you have any closing comments?
This is praising time! Use this opportunity to thank your committee members for their time and questions. Tell them how much you have learnt from them and how you intend to correct errors (if any) identified in your work. This can go a long way in impressing your internal and external supervisors. All the best!
When confronted with a difficult question, adopt a strategy to make them rephrase or repeat the question. This will give you more time to think.
If your research project is Empirical in nature,or you used any statistical tool to test hypothesis, try to know how you arrived at such conclusion. Also know how your data was analysed and the various tools used for the analysis. Project Defense Questions
Before your defense day. Practice with your supervisor or your friends. Make them to drill you with likely questions.
Talk calmly with confidence. Do not talk too fast as this may pave way for tension and stage freight. Project Defense Questions
Read your project thoroughly. Know basic definitions and terms used in the study. Project Defense Questions
Expand the likely questions to 50. Feel free to add yours in the comment box below. Thanks and God bless you.