How can you be double sure when checking your thesis?

A good thesis is an outcome of a lot of hard work, and extensive research for a long span of time. The writer has to be confident about the work that has been done, before it is submitted for approval.

At the inception stage of the work, the emphasis is on collecting, and compiling information to be incorporated in the thesis. As a writer one must be confident about the information that is being used, and the reliability of the sources from where the information is being retrieved. There would be less or no fear of rejection of work, after it is submitted, if these finer details are taken care of at the initial stages.

 The most challenging part is to create a document that is free from errors, big or small, and the content has grammatical accuracy. Information in every aspect of the topic of research should be covered.  Whenever you use information in thesis, it should be again verified for authenticity and accuracy. Particularly when talking about facts and figures. The spellings and grammar should be thoroughly checked. The first impression about the thesis is created from its appearance, so the formatting of the thesis is very important. With all these small but important concerns to take care of, getting an expert involved is always a good idea. A cross checking from the side of an expert can lift up the quality of your thesis manifold.

When you assign the task of checking your thesis to a seasoned person, the review and suggestions would be unbiased and unrealistic. It is a good idea, before thesis submission, the content must be assessed by an expert individual or a company that provides such services. You can begin the task yourself by checking the grammar and plagiarism in your content by using various free software that are available online. Make sure that you don’t forget to check the typographical issues before you decide to submit the document.

It is certainly a good help to get the quality of your thesis enriched by someone who has the expertise to extract out the smallest of flaws and surface out frank and unbiased opinion. Your thesis is going to win you your Ph.D. degree, so it should be taken out from the hands of an expert editor to give the final flawless look, which you can feel proud of, not once but even much after you have completed your Ph.D.

The two tricks to help you defend your PhD thesis better

What is required to give a successful Ph.D. defense? You need to prepare hard, keep your stress levels in control and ensure that you chances of sailing through it are the maximum.

A very vital trait of a Ph.D. defense is that it’s uniquely unpredictable. You can only control that bit part of it which you can prepare. That is your talk and your presentation. It is impossible to be proactive about all the endless possibility of questions that would be shot at you.  A thesis usually is close to two hundred pages and the committee has the job and the freedom to find an error on any page or grill you with the interpretation or meaning of any word on any of the page. When your work is an outcome of your hard work and carries the seal of quality you are confident to sail through it anyways. Still, there are two tricks that can help you to deal with your Ph.D. defense with a more confident approach:

  1. Make sure that you have enough practice talks: Do not underestimate how much time it takes for practice and control over the flawless delivery of your content. Most of the researchers let their guard down when they have submitted their thesis as they think that the most difficult part is over. That is a mistake one must not do, as preparing for your defense also requires effort and dedication that is no less than what is needed for writing a thesis. Your preparation must make you sound polished when you deliver. Even if you don’t have each and every word memorized, enough time spent on practice will put you in the flow of talking. To further improvise on the quality of your defense, you may even record your rehearsal to see what your strength areas are and which are the areas that you need to focus upon.
  2. Give an ear to other defense talks: The more you listen to other Ph.D. defense talks the better prepared you are mentally. It is all the more ideal if the research is on a topic that is similar to your theme. However, if that is not possible, try to see diverse defense presentations of other scholars on youtube or get yourself DVDs. Have a broader vision and a critical perspective when you see these so you can identify what are the good and bad aspects of those talks. The level of energy and confidence that has been exhibited by the presenter should also be noticed by you, to absorb and improvise your talk, wherever you feel the need be.

Best of luck to you!!

Bringing Quality in Your Thesis, Step By Step!

It is always easy to get into the comfort zone and become easy about doing the work and the laxity you show in your effort comes out in your productivity. A slow down starts coming to you naturally. Do not ignore this and take it as a signal to change your focus of work and get into the finer details to understand where you are going wrong. Pick up the most difficult challenge first.

The moment you are awake from your lax attitude, do not move forward but first try to make corrections in what you have written already. Edit it and put in all that you have missed putting earlier. Include the relevant references. Invest time and deep thought over what you wish to say next so that whatever further work you do is synced up with the previous one in terms of detailing and quality standards.

When writing thesis, it is also always good to look at the content from the perspective of the examiner. Anticipate the questions that he may put up for you so that you deal with the challenges while the concept is still fresh in your mind and not later.

Know and remember that it is ok to be slow and easy in between but the objective of doing so should be to go in the detail and bring the best possible perfection in your work. If you do your work well and ensure that you have taken care of the finer details before moving to the next section you will be surely able to create and maintain the standards of quality and minute details in the content throughout your thesis.

What is a good quality section of your thesis made up of? We have been repeatedly talking about quality standards in content, but what do we understand by this and what are the parameters of good quality?  Firstly, it needs all references in place with all bibliographic information. The editing and formatting should be such of the section that it looks like the final thesis. The tables and figures used should be well designed and well captioned. The content should be so written that it flows from one point to next without any gaps that need to be filled later when the concept isn’t fresh in the mind any more you cannot match up the detail you wrote earlier

Remember that all these things will have to be done at some point surely, if you do not handle these issues section wise, you would have to do it at the end, hard pressed against time. The choice is yours, do it section wise or leave it for the end!

Some general tips on effective introductions

The effectiveness of academic writing depends primarily on good introductions and hence they demand a lot of your attention most of the time. The key components of a good introduction are identification of topic, essential context and the key focus areas of the study. In addition it should be good enough to engage the interest of your readers. Because no two essays are identical, no single formula would be able to generate the introduction we are seeking. But adhering to certain guidelines can surely help to give a suitable beginning to your writing:

General advice about introductions:

  • A lot of students get entangled in the web of creating an effective introduction and hence end up spending most of their time creating that “perfect intro”. Don’t do that and rather channelize your time and efforts better into planning and writing.
  • If you are one of those who prefers to write an introduction as the first thing, know that you may have to correct, compress or rectify it at a later stage when you have finished your document
  • It is better and easier to leave the introduction  for the last stage of the document as then you would  be able to write in primarily in the light of what you have written throughout the document
  • The size of the introduction has a relationship with the length and complexity of your document for instance a document more than 15 pages would require over two page long introduction while a 5 page document would have a half page intro. You must know and justify the length of you document.
  • Do not beat around the bush in an introduction and try to raise your topic in the very first sentence itself. Stay away from generalisations
  • The end of the introduction should be your thesis statement, even though it isn’t a thumb rule, it surely paves a good road map for you.

An interesting and effective introduction should surely include some startling statistics in context to your topic so that the seriousness of your topic is highlighted right in the beginning itself. Including some background information with a brief narrative that should exemplify the reason because of which you chose the topic. It is also a good idea to quote an expert after giving a brief introduction of him or her and mention the common misinterpretation against which your thesis will argue so that the readers become acquainted with it right in the beginning itself.

Doctoral Students deserve a holiday too!!

When you are on the journey of being a doctoral scholar, your perspective towards holiday’s changes all together and you start looking at them little differently as compare to your perspective when you were undergraduate. As a doctoral students, here are few things you must know about holidays.

Holidays for you should be purely disassociated from stress of all types and give you the comfort of relaxation which is otherwise completely off from your grilling and challenging schedule

 When you decide to visit relatives in your tenure as a doctoral scholar, you might find their attitude and approach towards   you different and more poking than before. You may find them interfering in your work, whether passively or aggressively but surely intruding. Their objective primarily would be to know about your research and the new developments in your life. There are few tips and ideas that can help you to alleviate the feeling of frustration you may develop during such breaks, try to answer vaguely or in a way that you divert the attention more towards their work than yours.

 The perfect holiday for a doctoral student would be at a place that can be completely relaxing and unwinding and away from issues and concerns, whether personal or professional that can disturb you or add on to your existing pressure. You may not get many such opportunities easily in your PhD time but it is a suggestion worth focussing on, that you must create opportunities for yourself and keep taking a break on high priority. This is all the more important when you are going through that “more stressing” phase of your course. When you have slogged yourself with submission and deadlines. Rejuvenating yourself with a short break would help you to gear up and start the new phase with more focus.

Some scholars are unfortunate to have supervisors that  do not acknowledge their  students to take even well-deserved  breaks, they may try to make them feel guilty every time they would bring up the issue of moving away for a bit. Well I guess, you need to learn to find your way out here and don’t surrender. You must try and convince and cajole your supervisor about your needs and importance of moving out for a while, now whether you decide to face relatives and family or a lonely getaway for yourself is a choice you got to make!!

A checklist before you actually start writing your thesis

Completion of master’s thesis gives you a great sense of accomplishment. It indeed is because you are contributing a unique addition in the existing body of academic knowledge.  But it doesn’t come easy. The sense of pride and accomplishment would only come after you have overcome many an odds in the journey. Taking up doctoral study as they say it is “Easier said than done”

 Out of all the challenges that your doctoral journey puts you through, getting kick-start is one of the biggest ones. So that you begin well and are able to proceed in a planned manner, we bring for your here an exhaustive technical checklist of the things that you need to do and should have prepared and planned in advance.

  1. Topic
  2. Supervisor
  3. Literature on your research area
  4. Methodology to be followed
  5. Funding(if required)
  6. Before you start your research, you need to know what you want to research about. Rather it is better and advisable to have a precise topic in your mind that you are passionate about and you feel will be worthy of quality research. When you chose your topic, be sure that it is something you are familiar with. It is not   as easy to have a topic ready ad it may require some amount of narrowing and trimming. Your chosen topic will help you to create your thesis statement and you need to do it after a lot of thought process.
  7. From among the members of your department, you must have a chosen supervisor who is willing to become your advisor and professional guide. Ensure that he or she has specialised knowledge  and is also well versed in the area of research
  8. Before actually proceeding with doctoral research you must be store house of knowledge in your area of research. It involves a lot of reading. It will let you know the gap in the existing research and in what ways is your research different from what has already been done.
  9. Your research has to be specific and at the same time valid and acceptable in the academic community. You would need your advisors help here and that is acceptable so do not shy away from doing so.
  10. Sometimes the research process involves lot of expenditure, especially when it involves equipment and material. If finances are your concern, you need to find a willing benefactor and prepare your foundation in such a way that your research sounds worthy of getting financed.

Your Preparation for Your PhD VIVA

Oral examinations are more threatening than the written ones and we don’t have an exception here when we talk of the PhD VIVA. I don’t see too many reasons to be really petrified of the PhD VIVA. It is of course natural to feel some anxiety and I think that is symptom which in a good context, indicates that you care about your performance. However, the anxiety has to be eustress and not distress. The best way that you done feel negatively anxious about your PhD VIVA is to very clearly know its purpose and to be also well prepared for the same. The main objective of a VIVA is to give you an opportunity to defend your research, your thesis. It really isn’t a standalone examination and surely only your VIVA cannot decide whether you would pass or fail in your PhD.

Remember if your thesis has good standards and has innovative and worthy research, it may be already decided to pass your thesis, even before the VIVA. So your preparation for this oral examination starts from the first day when you start your research as submitting a well written thesis is the first thing to be done. Have confidence in the arguments that you have presented as that would go a long way in preparing you well for the VIVA. Keep in mind these few things for best results in your VIVA:

  • Be very thorough with the argument you have presented and how it is contributing in the existing body of research.

  • When you do your preparation and rehearsal, look at it from a third person perspective to get a holistic picture. Seeing it as someone else’s research also helps you to understand how would the examiner look at it.

  • Identify the strengths of your research and know the weaknesses. Keep awareness about the practical weaknesses in your research and what kind of scope it leaves or creates for future research is also important.

  • If your supervisor agrees, try to do a mock VIVA, rehearsals always instill more confidence

  • Do make an attempt to explain your thesis to a person who has the knowledge and interest in your subject but is a not a researcher. You would understand the perspective of a layman which is imperative for a researcher to know of defences in the VIVA

  • Try to be spontaneous and natural rather than mugged up, remember it is your work and nobody understands it better than you do so there isn’t a need to be artificial in the VIVA. Refer the thesis if you so need to in the VIVA.

If you have some tips for better performance in VIVA, do share with us.

The Pillars of a Thesis

Any PhD has in it three trinities. The first trinity talks about the famous three “ologies”. The second trinity, which I will be talking about in today’s post is the relationship between:

Literature Review
Method
Empirical work

These three tasks, if I may say, may appear to be very distinct to you and you may wonder, what binds them together so strongly? Well, if you look at it from my vision, all the chapters in a PhD thesis revolve around these themes only. They are independent themes in themselves and at the same time have a very smooth link to one another. When I say that, I mean, one leads to the other.

The first theme or the content of the trinity, as I said in the beginning of the blog, is a very broad document, in terms of it coverage. You need to work around compressing different school of thoughts into one area and then from its review and genesis, you need to cull out the research questions that have gone unanswered in the existing research.

The second theme which is the method transits forwards to a more specific purpose than generic. Here you need to move to the specific of the design. The task here is to set out the mechanics of how the research will be executed. Document A should transient into Document B seamlessly by articulating the method that needs to be adopted to answer the question stated in Document A

A lot of researchers say, rather insist at this point that if A and B are done carefully then graduating to Document C is simple easy and in fact a very linear progression. Research of course is not as simple as it sounds. At this stage, there have been research scholars who have found reverse engineering links between the three documents. The outcome at level C and help to make relevant and logical modifications at the preliminary levels.

All to remember is that the key thing that examiners look for some coherence between the Literature Review, Method and the Empirical work. This kind of connection and linkage brings in structural integrity which is the essence of any good document.

Reviewing the existing literature

The most common reason to review the existing literature is quite obvious to know what work has already been done on the same subject and topic. Literature review is a place where the researcher demonstrates that he is able to engage in scholarly review based on the researcher’s reading and understanding of the work that was done by others. Literature review is also used to develop an argument about the importance of the research and where it would lead.

The objective to explore existing literature is basically to:

What is already known to people about the same area?

What concepts and theories could be carrying significance for the current work under            study?

What research methods and strategies were employed in studying the same topic?

Could there be any crucial controversies?

Could there be any unanswered research questions in the same area?

The last issue throws light on the possibility that the researcher would be able to revise and refine the research questions in the course of reviewing the literature. A competent review of literature is a means of confirming the credibility of somebody who is possessing knowledge in the same area. Reviewing literature is not simply a matter of reproducing the theories and opinions of previous scholars but also to interpret what they have worked on. It is done by using their ideas to support a particular argument.

How to defend your thesis with flying colors?

Now that you’ve completed your PhD thesis on-time, it’s time for you to be prepared for the defense session. It is this step which determines the kind of score you’re going to attain after successful completion of your doctorate degree course. Defending your thesis is an emotionally challenging process which every doctoral student has to undergo in order to attain a doctorate degree. There’s no need for you to fret anymore because I’ve found you some quick and easy tips on preparing for your thesis defense session.

  • Develop your confidence level – Being confident is necessary for facing all the questions that you’re being required to answer during the thesis defense session. Nobody except you can know the best what the thesis paper is about, so you need not feel uneasy. 
  • Never be in a hurry – Whenever you’re being asked a question about your thesis, do not rush to reply it. Listen to the question carefully and answer in an easy-to-understand manner. Oral answers given in a hurry often tend to get misinterpreted and review committee members get confused. 
  • Be prepared for the audience – A majority of universities allow a public to attend an open part of a thesis defense, so you got to be ready for a variety of questions coming your way. Prior to appearing for the defense session, don’t forget to practice your speech in front of the mirror. 
  • Prepare a presentation – Committee members love to hear a student who’s capable of presenting his/her work in a pictorial manner. Hence, do ensure to utilize visual aids such as charts and photographs in order to insure that you’ll not get lost/stuck anywhere in your speech. 
  • Prepare hard copy handouts and backups for unexpected situations – Remember that technology can fail anytime, so don’t forget to keep print outs of your defense speech. Doing this would keep you from unwanted embarrassments. 
  • Ensure an impressive conclusion of your speech – Make it a point to conclude your thesis by reinforcing your findings. Try proving the work you’ve done; segregating what has changed and what hasn’t changed about your research problem.

A successful oral defense of your thesis marks the completion of your PhD degree program. Getting questioned by a panel of professors can be daunting but with a prior preparation the same process can become convenient and stress-free. Impressing your review committee becomes critical when you’ve put in your best efforts towards drafting the thesis theme.

Chanakya Research is a research consultation services firm which is involved in providing high-end support to PhD students who’re experiencing sleepless nights before their PhD thesis defense. Thesis defense, being the final step in the long process of getting a PhD, should be embarked on after proper preparation. Since each department follows its rules and process, so as a doctoral student, you need to understand and follow your departmental guidelines concerning defense procedures carefully.

Thesis defense is an opportunity for you to explain the meaning of your work and not a quiz on specific facts. Hence, it is your responsibility to focus on responding to the questions in an easy-to-understand manner. Well answered questions can fetch you a high grade, while the others responded with even a slightest hindrance fail to impress the committee members. You should never be careless while answering questions during the defense session because the committee members scrutinize your behavior and give you scores on the same footing. Compromising on the efforts put in during defense preparation might hamper your academic score and affect your doctorate degree. Hence, do make it a point to get up well before appearing for your thesis defense session.