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  • The different components of a PhD

    Even if you don’t have the contents of your PhD specified, you surely know from the very beginning that it is a formal piece of document that has to be created in alignment with the rules and regulations that have been set up by the university. Know that you would only be awarded a PhD if and when you have convinced your examiners that the thesis you have created is a research that is quality research and deserves a pass because of its novelty and worthiness and in addition it also complies with the other formal requirements of the university.

    Complying with the regulations of the university isn’t just about the research related issues but small but important aspects such as binding, page layout, font , line spacing and recommended referencing style. The university has certain standards that it expects you to fulfil and you got to ensure that your thesis lives up to them. The strength of your thesis is the content   and its quality, however you need to support it with other factors and you must ensure that you don’t fail in those aspects while trying to just focus on the quality of the content. The other compliances are intricate surely but mostly straight forward and failing in your PhD or even a delay in its acceptance because of these factors can get very frustrating and more so if you have a thesis that produces a great argument and very high quality research.

    When you begin your PhD, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the formal requirements from the very beginning itself so that you can determine all those things that need to be included and you can efficiently and smoothly incorporate them while working on  the other aspects of the PhD. The standard checklist for PhD components is:

    1. Introduction
    2. Review of Literature
    3. Research methodology: it may or may not be a separate chapter but surely is an integral part
    4. Analysis and interpretation: more so if your research is empirical and you have used primary data  analysis, it becomes an exclusive and lengthy chapter
    5. Conclusion: this chapter may also include suggestions and recommendation with emphasis on also future scope of research.
    6. The front material: title page/content page/declaration/acknowledgements/ table of illustration/ other tables and other pages that may be specific to some thesis
    7. The end material: the bibliography of course and other than that appendices may be required in some thesis in case any material needs to be attached



    Analysing the research question!

    “The answer to your research question should be your thesis statement. Keep in mind that you will most likely continue to refine your thesis statement as you conduct and write about your research. A good research question, however, puts you well on your way to writing a strong research paper”

     Your research paper should be able to answer each and every question that you have raised satisfactorily. Before you know how to answer the questions in the correct manner, you must recognise to which category your essay belongs. Is it an explanatory essay or is it an argumentative essay?

    If it is an explanatory essay, the name itself implies, it targets to explain some topics in a descriptive manner with all information getting conveyed in detail. The writer does not get the creative freedom here to express his own opinion, arguments or eve criticism of existing arguments. However, if it is an argumentative essay, the writer has to incorporate   his view point in the way of an argument, ideas or critical perspective. It is a good platform for those who want to demonstrate their knowledge regarding the topic and also showcase their analytical skills.

    When you begin to write your document, you must first do the diagnosis in context to which category does it belong? You would get to know this by focussing on the question your research essay raises and knowing which category it belongs to. They key words in the question are great cues that would help you to understand more about how you should go ahead with writing or justifying the research question.

    If you feel stuck at the initial stage itself and don’t know the course you should be taking then it is advisable that you take help from an expert or preferably your supervisor because a wrong direction chosen at this point of time means whenever at later stage you understand, all your efforts would be in vain and you may repent that why didn’t you ensure earlier.  If you get a choice between whether to go ahead with argumentative or explanatory analysis of your research question, do not think that one way is easier than the other.  Whatever method you chose, it must go with the theme of your topic and the approach you follow thereafter should justify the way your research question in a way that the reader feels convinced that the problem has been handled holistically.

    How to defend your dissertation defence smartly?

    A thesis defence is a situation of oral examination where the scholar is expected to justify his thesis and research in the presence of a panel of experts. It indeed is the final and the most important part of the PhD journey that a scholar goes through?

    There is a lot of preparation that would go in getting ready to face your oral defence successfully:

    Know your subject well:   First and foremost, you must be an expert in the area of your research. The questions could be from outside your thesis topic but from the area of your research. You must ensure not to give a negative response to your examiners, even if you don’t know the exact answer, give whatever logic you think fits the best in the situation.

    Have good knowledge of your audience: Before the starting of the session it is always better to gaze through who is going to be the audience for your answers. When I say that, I mean whether would you have a mixed discipline of experts or all would be from the same field. For a multi-disciplinary panel, you need to be prepared to keep them in the loop of your answers, lest they feel left out.

    Topic of your thesis: Though at a later stage of your research, there is not much you can do with your topic if it isn’t the best it could be but having an interesting topic is always an advantage. A thought provoking and eye catching topic is always a way to get an advantage and superiority in the eyes of the examiners.

    Justify your topic well: Not being prepared to justify your topic can be a blunder in the eyes of the researcher. A question related to justification of the paper is the most important question that will be asked in the viva, and you must be able to percolate the importance of your topic down to others in a way that it appears interesting to them.

    Practice well:  A PPT is important for a PhD VIVA. You must have the key points on a slide show and explain each and every point on the slides. To ensure that you do a holistic coverage of the topic, you must practice your presentation as many times as you can.  This will give confidence and keep you ready for all kinds of questions.