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How to Start a Thesis Defense Presentation

How to Start a Thesis Defense Presentation | Quick Tips & Tutorial for your presentations

After months and years of hard work, the moment to wrap things all up is finally here—your thesis defense presentation.

Whether you’re pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate, it’s the final step to that much-deserved achievement. 

A thesis defense requires a lot of prior research and preparation. And as important as its content is, so is how you present it because a stunning design with clear data and text hierarchy plays an immense role in comprehension.

In this article, we’ll explore how you make your thesis defense .

The organization is the key to success. Establishing some previous steps before any project or work is essential for the result to be very positive. And the defense of a thesis could not be less. 

Below, we will develop all the necessary steps to make a thesis defense presentation and we will give you some tips on how to carry them out.

How to Make an Amazing Presentation

Defining the concept of your thesis presentation, structuring your thesis defense presentation, how do you welcome the audience, tell them why you did this thesis, go into the content by explaining your thesis part by part, how to end the defense of the thesis.

After a long time of research and study, the content of your thesis is ready. Now, you have to find the best way to reflect all that effort behind your work. The information comes across more clearly if you use a visual format, as it attracts the attention of the audience. To present your thesis information in a clear, concise, and ultimately amazing way, you can use one of our unique thesis defense templates , available at Slidesgo.

As an example, in this article, we are going to use the Ecology Thesis template . With it, we will show you what to include in your presentation and how to make an attractive design.

After choosing the Google Slides and PowerPoint template that best suits the needs and subject matter of your thesis, it is time to define an overarching concept.

This is the main theme on which your designs are based. It must be relevant to your thesis as its purpose is to guide your selection of colors, typography, images, style, etc. 

These must be portrayed in a way that supports the main message of your slides and should be aligned with your concept both visually and sociologically.

Once you have defined the concept, you will have to move on to the next step: structuring the content of your thesis. A good structure will show that there is a good organization behind the work, but most importantly: it will highlight your content.

In this article, we are going to show you a structure that could be a good example of how to structure a thesis, but you can adapt it to what your specific content requires.

Before you begin your thesis defense, you should welcome your audience. A good presentation will make you connect with your audience, which will result in more general interest in your work.

Use an appropriate language register (avoid informal language), but be approachable and natural.

"Welcome to the thesis defense on [the title of your thesis]". Next, introduce yourself with your name and give a short description of your background and occupation.

Don't forget to say “thank you for attending!”

To continue establishing that connection with your audience, explain the reasons that led you to do this thesis. Tell the professional reasons, and you can even say some personal ones, which will denote closeness, and your audience will appreciate it.

Now it's time to go into the content of the thesis ! After these preliminary steps, which are just as important as the thesis itself, it is time to explain part by part the structure (which you had previously established). We are going to propose a structure for your project, but the final decision is always yours!

how to start phd thesis presentation

First impressions are very important. Because your title page is the very first thing viewers see, it must be striking and impactful. It also sets the stage for the rest of your slides.

In one glance, the following should be established:

  • Thesis defense topic
  • Design style

For instance, the ecology thesis’s title page uses illustrations of a natural landscape to represent the topic of nature and a striking shade of blue to set the tone.

The sans serif font used depicts clean-cut typography and style and the thesis topic is written in large and bold typography, which draws attention to it immediately.

how to start phd thesis presentation

Right after your title page, include an introduction slide to provide more details about your topic. 

This means explaining what you hope to answer with your research, its importance to your field, and why you chose it.

Continue to incorporate design elements relevant to your concept. This example has done just that by using a different natural landscape and including animals. For coherence, stick to the same typography and style throughout your presentation.

how to start phd thesis presentation

The aim of the literature review slide is to illustrate your knowledge of your thesis topic and any relevant theories.

Walls of text kill a design. For clarity, we recommend presenting this with bullet points. Each one should be short and sweet and only touch on the basics; you can elaborate on them in your speech. 

Don’t forget to be consistent with your design. In our example, we’ve maintained the tone of blue chosen and added illustrations of leaves in the far corners of the slide. 

Also, address similar research that has been done. This is to showcase your topic’s originality and, if relevant, how it’s different and/or an improvement from previously done research. 

how to start phd thesis presentation

This is one of the most important parts of a thesis defense presentation.

It allows your viewers to assess the rationality and validity of your approach and consequently, the accuracy of your results.

A great methodology slide explains the what , how, and why :

  • What method did you use for your research
  • Why did you choose it
  • How did you conduct it

Because this part of your thesis will be rather technical, the most effective way to aid understanding is by using graphics like charts and tables. 

how to start phd thesis presentation

Keep text to a minimum to avoid drawing attention away from the graphics. If there is a text that must absolutely be included, consider using bullet points and keep them short.

Don’t forget to maintain color, style, and typography coherence.

how to start phd thesis presentation

The results slides are easily the most quantitative part of a thesis defense. 

Here, your aim is to simply introduce your findings. Select the most impactful data and highlight them here.

Just as with methodology, use graphics like charts, tables, and graphs to portray the data in a clear way. And, once again, try not to write too much text. Let the visual content do the talking .

how to start phd thesis presentation

After you’ve introduced your data, the next step would be to help your audience make sense of it. That means understanding what it means in the context of your thesis research topic and your discipline. 

Simply put, you should answer the question: What do the numbers mean?

The best way to approach this would be to do it as if you were creating an infographic . 

Illustrations like icons are a quick and simple way to represent your message. It also reduces the amount of text on your slide, which makes the information much more digestible. 

For a balanced thesis presentation, you should also address any outliers and anomalies.

To quote bestselling author Robin Sharma, “Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.”

That’s exactly what to aim for in your conclusion.

Provide an overview of your thesis topic and remind your audience what you set out to answer with your research. In our example, we’ve used three icons accompanied by a short title and text. 

how to start phd thesis presentation

Following that, reiterate the important points of your research results you want your audience to take away from your thesis defense presentation. 

You can do so by expanding the next slide to have more icons and points, for example.

how to start phd thesis presentation

Don’t forget to address any shortcomings and limitations in your approach and extra points for suggesting possible improvements for future research.

We are going to give you a little tip to make your thesis defense a success. You can combine your defense with good public speaking techniques. Take a look at our article "How to become a great speaker" .

We hope this article has been of great help, have you already seen our templates to make the presentation of your thesis ? Choose the one that best suits your needs, we are sure that one of them will go perfectly with your thesis presentation! 

Good luck from Slidesgo.

how to start phd thesis presentation

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Tips For Preparing a Successful PhD Thesis Defense Presentation

Last week, I watched a friend, Aaron Feldman , defend his PhD thesis. Watching Aaron successfully (yes, he passed!) defend his thesis made me reflect on the process of getting an advanced science degree and the challenge of summing it all up into one epic, final hurrah: the PhD thesis defense presentation.

For grad students, this momentous presentation marks the end (or at least very close to it) of a long and arduous research journey filled with a lot of hard work, some (or a lot) of tears, and a sprinkling of joy. For all those PhD hopefuls, I wanted to share a few tips to consider when preparing your thesis defense presentation.

But first, let’s address one of the major stress-inducing myths about the thesis defense.

Fear of Failing Your Thesis Defense

If your planning your PhD thesis presentation, then the fear of failing is ever-present. In my experience, this fear is typically unfounded. There are urban legends and even some blogs that recount stories of people failing their thesis defense, but the overwhelming majority of grad students, even those terrified of failing, will pass.

So, why do these urban legends persist? And why does everyone fear failing their thesis defense?

Anxiety is Still a Thing

Well, defending 5 years of your work in front of a room of your colleagues, experienced professors, committee members, friends, parents, and partner might produce just a tad of anxiety. In this situation, it’s easy to catastrophize and think that the worst will happen. Anxiety in this situation is perfectly normal though and there are ways to handle it. If you find yourself ruminating over failing your thesis defense or feel like your anxiety is getting out of control, act sooner rather than latter.

Your Committee is on Your Side

Ultimately, it’s your committee who holds all the cards. This power dynamic can cause even more anxiety. But, your committee doesn’t want to fail you . And they are busy, so they probably don’t want to have to show up again for your presentation. Knowing this can make the defense feel a little less adversarial and more like you are a part of a team, with everyone working towards helping you graduate. Cheesy, I know. But true.

Finding Out BEFORE Your Defense

Most graduate students talk to their advisor and their committee about defending, prior to writing their thesis and scheduling their defense. Hopefully, you’ve stayed in contact with your committee throughout your PhD and you’ve kept them informed about the state of your research, your publications, and any struggles you’re having.

Easier said than done, I know. The only committee meeting I had was months before I defended my thesis. After presenting my research and my publications to them, I made it clear that I’d like to graduate. For me, this was the moment that induced the most fear. But, they agreed that I had done enough to write and defend my thesis. Getting this confirmation makes it much less likely that you are going to get a curveball on game day…in front of all your friends and family.

Structure & Delivery of Your Thesis Presentation

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the presentation. Since you’ll be summing up over 5 years of research in about 45 minutes, there are a lot of opportunities to get lost in the weeds.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

The Right Introduction For Your Audience

The audience that will show up to your thesis defense is likely pretty broad. They probably have a wide range of different research backgrounds and may not have a firm grasp on some of the jargon from your field. Don’t overestimate your audience’s ability to understand information: while they are assuredly very smart, overloading them with terms and information that they have never seen before is a surefire way to lose them.

To rectify this, pay particular attention to your introduction and start at a high level. Ask yourself what information the audience would need to understand the impact of your work. Writing the introduction to your thesis is a great exercise for determining what information can help you do this, but think simple and be concise.

For instance, Aaron’s thesis project was focused on the optimization of a semi-synthetic organism , which uses two synthetic nucleotides to form a third base pair, giving it an expanded genetic code. Aaron provided a great introduction where he laid out a) the rationale for why anyone would want to expand the genetic code in vivo and b) the appropriate background on prior work from his lab, the Romesberg Lab , on which his thesis work was based. He did this at a level that captured the attention of both the biologists and chemists that made up his audience; a tough feat to do.

Structure Your Talk Like Your Thesis

If you’re preparing your thesis defense presentation, than you’ve either just finished writing your thesis or are pretty close to finished. Part of this is dividing up your research projects of the past 5 years into distinct chapters. These chapters make for perfect breakpoints in your talk and should form the meaty, data-heavy chunks of your talk.

But don’t make them too meaty! Trim the extra fat off some of these sections: keep the data that is essential for each chapter/section and don’t include extraneous data.

Prepare for Q & A

The Q & A section following your thesis presentation really puts the “defense” in “thesis defense.” Be prepared to defend the hypotheses, data, and ideas you just presented. Immediately following the end of your presentation, most research institutes and universities typically have time for non-committee members to ask questions about your work. But after that, it’s just you, your advisor, and your committee in a no-holds-barred, anything goes, private Q & A.

This, again, can be a stressful process and depending on who is on your committee can feel a bit like your qualifying exam. Remember, no one on the planet Earth has spent the past 5 years engaged in the same research projects you have or thought about it in the same way you have. By definition, that makes you an expert. There are few insights that your committee will have into the detailed nature of your work that you wouldn’t have already thought about.

Your committee members are, however, bringing their own expertise to the table and they may try to find questions that bridge your areas of study. You can be prepared for these by studying up on their research backgrounds and thinking about your project from their perspective. Some committees may test the limits of your knowledge. Just like in your qualifying exam, there is no shame in saying “I don’t know” or “That is the focus of future studies.” Giving an answer that you makeup on the spot or haven’t thought through can be way worse.

A Final Word: Don’t Cram

If you’ve gotten to the point where you are doing your PhD thesis defense presentation, you are in a pretty good spot. But don’t let that go to your head. This isn’t some informal lab meeting that you can throw together the night before. Don’t leave your presentation prep until the last minute.

As you can see above, there is still a lot to prepare before your presentation. Practice and make sure you give some thought to the structure of your talk and what questions might come up.

Then when its over, go celebrate…hard!

If you need more help planning your thesis presentation, contact SlideTalk . Or just flag down Dr. Feldman at Scripps Research . That guy knows how to defend a thesis!

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I am an ex-academic research scientist with 12 years of experience in molecular biology, microbiology, and immunology. I'm passionate about communicating science effectively to a wide variety of audiences through written and oral presentations.


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How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation of Your Research Paper

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Table of Contents

A research paper presentation is often used at conferences and in other settings where you have an opportunity to share your research, and get feedback from your colleagues. Although it may seem as simple as summarizing your research and sharing your knowledge, successful research paper PowerPoint presentation examples show us that there’s a little bit more than that involved.

In this article, we’ll highlight how to make a PowerPoint presentation from a research paper, and what to include (as well as what NOT to include). We’ll also touch on how to present a research paper at a conference.

Purpose of a Research Paper Presentation

The purpose of presenting your paper at a conference or forum is different from the purpose of conducting your research and writing up your paper. In this setting, you want to highlight your work instead of including every detail of your research. Likewise, a presentation is an excellent opportunity to get direct feedback from your colleagues in the field. But, perhaps the main reason for presenting your research is to spark interest in your work, and entice the audience to read your research paper.

So, yes, your presentation should summarize your work, but it needs to do so in a way that encourages your audience to seek out your work, and share their interest in your work with others. It’s not enough just to present your research dryly, to get information out there. More important is to encourage engagement with you, your research, and your work.

Tips for Creating Your Research Paper Presentation

In addition to basic PowerPoint presentation recommendations, which we’ll cover later in this article, think about the following when you’re putting together your research paper presentation:

  • Know your audience : First and foremost, who are you presenting to? Students? Experts in your field? Potential funders? Non-experts? The truth is that your audience will probably have a bit of a mix of all of the above. So, make sure you keep that in mind as you prepare your presentation.

Know more about: Discover the Target Audience .

  • Your audience is human : In other words, they may be tired, they might be wondering why they’re there, and they will, at some point, be tuning out. So, take steps to help them stay interested in your presentation. You can do that by utilizing effective visuals, summarize your conclusions early, and keep your research easy to understand.
  • Running outline : It’s not IF your audience will drift off, or get lost…it’s WHEN. Keep a running outline, either within the presentation or via a handout. Use visual and verbal clues to highlight where you are in the presentation.
  • Where does your research fit in? You should know of work related to your research, but you don’t have to cite every example. In addition, keep references in your presentation to the end, or in the handout. Your audience is there to hear about your work.
  • Plan B : Anticipate possible questions for your presentation, and prepare slides that answer those specific questions in more detail, but have them at the END of your presentation. You can then jump to them, IF needed.

What Makes a PowerPoint Presentation Effective?

You’ve probably attended a presentation where the presenter reads off of their PowerPoint outline, word for word. Or where the presentation is busy, disorganized, or includes too much information. Here are some simple tips for creating an effective PowerPoint Presentation.

  • Less is more: You want to give enough information to make your audience want to read your paper. So include details, but not too many, and avoid too many formulas and technical jargon.
  • Clean and professional : Avoid excessive colors, distracting backgrounds, font changes, animations, and too many words. Instead of whole paragraphs, bullet points with just a few words to summarize and highlight are best.
  • Know your real-estate : Each slide has a limited amount of space. Use it wisely. Typically one, no more than two points per slide. Balance each slide visually. Utilize illustrations when needed; not extraneously.
  • Keep things visual : Remember, a PowerPoint presentation is a powerful tool to present things visually. Use visual graphs over tables and scientific illustrations over long text. Keep your visuals clean and professional, just like any text you include in your presentation.

Know more about our Scientific Illustrations Services .

Another key to an effective presentation is to practice, practice, and then practice some more. When you’re done with your PowerPoint, go through it with friends and colleagues to see if you need to add (or delete excessive) information. Double and triple check for typos and errors. Know the presentation inside and out, so when you’re in front of your audience, you’ll feel confident and comfortable.

How to Present a Research Paper

If your PowerPoint presentation is solid, and you’ve practiced your presentation, that’s half the battle. Follow the basic advice to keep your audience engaged and interested by making eye contact, encouraging questions, and presenting your information with enthusiasm.

We encourage you to read our articles on how to present a scientific journal article and tips on giving good scientific presentations .

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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

how to start phd thesis 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 comes 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 capture the panels’ attention and gives 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 specifically designed to help you defend your thesis in both written and oral presentations.

In 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, how to use chatgpt to structure your thesis.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Acknowledgements
  • Questions and Answers
  • Contact Information
  • 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.

The 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.

The 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 the 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 one of the most crucial research documents that a student makes during their academic schooling .

On the other hand, 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 questions 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. 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 noting 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. This is why students are given ample time, usually the entire last semester of 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 between 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 of whether they’ll go for a non-thesis program or with a thesis.

Those who have a plan to escalate their degree to a doctorate eventually should take the path of a thesis. This is to prepare themselves for a more extensive dissertation requirement as doctorate students. Otherwise, they will be only limited to earning a master’s degree.

paths to degrees diagram

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 other researchers haven’t already studied.

Path to a Doctoral Degree

USA: In the United States of America, they consider a thesis 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 the 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.

PPT Template Thesis vs Dissertation

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, your 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 you 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 future related research .

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 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.  Separate yourself from your work look at it objectively, and don’t take their comments personally .

“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 to 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 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

We can use language learning models like ChatGPT to help us curate the structure of our thesis presentation. Let’s see a step-by-step solution on how to apply this.

Step 1: Define the thesis topic and research questions

You can set the environment for ChatGPT to work by explaining what your thesis is going to cover and which specific questions you aim to address through the course of that document. This gives ChatGPT the context from which it shall formulate the structure. A prompt can be written like this:

“Take the role of an academic professional who shall help me to write my thesis. This thesis is going to cover the topic of (insert topic), and through its course, I want to answer these questions: Question 1 – Question 2 – Question 3 – Consider this information as the starting point for this chat.”

Step 2: Ask for an outline

With the previously provided information, ask ChatGPT to generate an outline for your presentation. If some of the points listed in the output don’t convince you, then chat with the interface until you reach a final outline. Then, ask to elaborate on each specific point for information or cues you may have overlooked.

Step 3: Ask ChatGPT which content should you place per slide

Instead of debating how are you going to trim your thesis into a presentation format, ask ChatGPT to do the decision process for you. You can be as specific as asking how many words per slide, how many slides should the presentation have, if you need any visual element, etc.

N.B.: We don’t recommend using ChatGPT to retrieve academic references as, in some cases, it can provide faulty results. You can ask if any facts on this presentation need to be checked or similar questions. ChatGPT is a powerful tool, but it shouldn’t be considered a bible, so be extra cautious about grabbing content directly from its outputs.

1. Title Page

This slide should contain the information that is provided on the title page of your hard copy . Here is an example of title page or cover slide for your title defense or thesis presentation.

PPT Template Thesis Title - title defense example - Example of Title Slide in a Thesis Defense Presentation

  • The title of your research paper
  • Where you are studying
  • Name and details of your course
  • Name of Adviser

2. Introduction Slide

Your introduction slide should provide the committee with an idea of the following:

PPT Template Introduction Slide - Example of Introduction Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • 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 Slide

It’s not necessary to cover everything that’s currently understood in the available literature. You may want to present the following content under a Literature Review slide:

Literature Review Thesis PPT Template

  • 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 Slide

Make sure to touch the factors below within your process, and include the following in the Methodology slide:

PPT Template Methodology Slide - Example of Methodology Slide in a Thesis Defense

  • 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 Slide

This part should give the committee/audience a good understanding of what you’ve discovered during your research. The statistics & results slide could include the final results of your analysis, here is an example:

Thesis Results PPT Template Slide

  • 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 Slide

Highlight here the meaning of the findings in relation to your discipline program and the research that you have done:

Thesis Discussion PPT Template Slide - Example of Discussion Slide for a Thesis Defense presentation

  • 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 Slide

You have to end your presentation with a conclusion summarizing all that you have found within your research. Here is an example of a Conclusion slide in a Thesis presentation:

Conclusions Thesis PowerPoint Template

  • 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

8. Acknowledgements Slide

Express gratitude to your advisor, committee members, peers, and others who supported your research journey. This slide provides a moment to acknowledge the collaborative nature of academic work.

9. Questions and Answers Slide

Dedicate a slide for audience questions at the end of your presentation.

Encourage engagement by inviting questions from the audience.

Be prepared to provide clear and concise responses to inquiries.

10. References Slide

Include a slide listing your cited sources throughout your presentation.

Use a consistent citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

The References slide demonstrates your thorough engagement with existing literature.

11. Contact Information Slide

If you’re open to further inquiries or collaborations, consider adding your contact information.

Include your email address or relevant professional social media handles.

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 in your presentation when you forget 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 sounds 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 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 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 hard copy you provided them.

What To Do When You Don’t Know the Answer

If the committee asks 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 expects 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 for you’ll talk fast, 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 breathe!

It’s OK to pause, and it’s OK to take your time; it’s more important that the committee clearly understands what you are trying to articulate.

More Quick Tips on How to Present!

  • 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 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 hope 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 have 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

Cover Image for MasterDoc PowerPoint templates

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

how to start phd thesis presentation

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

how to start phd thesis presentation

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

how to start phd thesis presentation

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.

how to start phd thesis presentation

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36 Responses to “How To Do a Proper Thesis Defense Using the Right PowerPoint Presentation”

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how to start phd thesis presentation

How to Pull Off Your Thesis Defense With a Great Presentation

how to start phd thesis presentation

You’ve reached the home stretch in your journey toward your post-graduate degree. You’ve diligently studied, researched and performed for years, and all that’s left is your master thesis or doctorate dissertation. 

“ All that’s left,” however, might be the understatement of the century. There’s nothing simple about orally defending your thesis, and this final stage often means the difference between a degree and a program that remains incomplete.

Even after you’ve dedicated months filled with blood, sweat and tears defining your argument, researching your support and writing your defense, you aren’t ready to address the academic panel. You still have to design an effective visual presentation, and the slide deck can make or break your entire thesis.

Unsure how to design a stellar slide deck to visually present your thesis or dissertation? Check out the following tips to pull off your master thesis defense with a great presentation:

1.   Properly structure your slide deck

Every master thesis defense presentation is unique, but most effective slide decks will follow a similar structure, including:  

  • Title - Just like a research paper, your thesis presentation must include a title slide. This should include the same information as any other title page: the title, your name, your academic institution, course name and the name of the academic advisor to your thesis or dissertation. That doesn’t mean your title slide needs to look like the start of any other Frankendeck . Instead, add your text atop a relative image, and adjust the brightness to ensure your text pops.
  • Introduction - Your thesis presentation should also include an introduction slide, which details the topic of your thesis, the question your research will seek to answer and any additional objectives to your research, as well as the answer or solution you will be defending.
  • Literature review - Following your thesis introduction, design one or more slides that review the literature you researched. This shouldn’t be a full bibliography (although that should be included in the accompanying written account of your research), but instead, the slides should list your most relevant research sources. If the information is featured on a slide, make sure you include its source. 
  • Methodology - Your thesis presentation slide deck should also include a slide (or slides) detailing the methodology of your research and argument. Here you want to describe the type of study— whether it’s quantitative, qualitative or a combination of the two, as well as an explanation of why you chose the method or methods you used. If you conducted original research, you will want to detail the study population, sampling methods and other details pertinent to your studies, while you’ll also want to detail how you analyzed your data.
  • Results - No thesis presentation slide deck is complete without dedicating slides to illustrate the results of your research. Be sure to include a description of any data you collected through your research, as well as the results of your analysis of the data. What were your most significant findings?
  • Discussion - How do the results of your research support your overall thesis argument? Be sure to include slides that discuss your overall findings and how they relate to your original question.
  • Conclusion - Concluding slides should restate your original research questions, represent the results of your research, suggest future research and make any final recommendations.
  • Ending slide – Close your thesis presentation with a concluding slide that offers an interesting quote or trivia that makes your audience further ponder your topic, a GIF or animation that recaptures the audience’s attention or even a hypothetical question that opens additional discussion from the academic panel. This is your opportunity to make your presentation memorable.

how to start phd thesis presentation

Thesis Presentation vs. Dissertation

Thesis presentation and dissertation are two terms often used in academic settings related to upper education. While they are related, there are distinct differences between the two, which is important to understand as you begin to structure your thesis defense.

‍ A thesis presentation typically refers to the final oral presentation that a student gives to defend their thesis or research project. It is a formal presentation to explain their findings, methodology, and conclusions to a panel of faculty members or experts in the field. The purpose of a thesis defense presentation is to demonstrate the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and to defend the validity of their research.

On the other hand, a dissertation refers to a lengthy and comprehensive research project that is typically required for the completion of a doctoral degree. It involves in-depth research, analysis, and the development of original ideas in a particular field of study. A dissertation is usually written over an extended period and is expected to contribute new knowledge or insights to the field. Unlike a thesis presentation, a dissertation is submitted in written form and is typically evaluated by a committee of faculty members or experts in the field.

2.   Choose which ideas to illustrate

Unless you have an hour to fill with your master thesis defense or doctorate dissertation, you won’t be able to include every idea from your overall research documentation in your slide show. Choose the most important ideas to illustrate on slides, while also keeping in mind what aspects of your research you’ll be able to visually represent.

how to start phd thesis presentation

3.   Define your presentation’s theme

A stellar thesis or dissertation presentation will be professional in appearance, and a cohesive design is an absolute must. Choose what types of typography and color schemes best support your topic. 

Instead of adjusting these settings on each individual slide— a tedious task at best— choose a PowerPoint-alternative presentation software like that allows you to customize a theme for your entire slide deck. Choose your fonts and other typography, your color palette, margins, footers, logos, transitions and more, and the cloud-based tool will automatically apply those design specifications to every slide you add to the master thesis defense presentation.

4.   Design simple and focused slides

You might have a lot of information to present, but when it comes to your thesis presentation— or almost any slide deck for that matter— less is more. Be sure every slide counts by focusing on your main points. 

Then, whatever you do, keep your slides simple. Not even an academic panel is going to dedicate much time deciphering a cluttered slide with all too many details. Try to avoid presenting more than one or two ideas on each slide.

5.   Include data visualizations

The whole point of your presentation is to illustrate the concepts included in your thesis. Humans are visual creatures and react strongly to imagery, and the panel evaluating your thesis or dissertation is no exception— regardless of how studious and formal the academics might seem. Illustrate the results of your research with colorful and engaging infographics . You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create them, either. users can choose from a host of smart slide templates with data visualizations — including favorites like bar graphs and pie charts , as well as less common options like scattergraphs , flow charts and pictograms . Just input your data and watch as our special brand of artificial intelligence creates the infographic for you.  

6.   Practice makes perfect

After spending months researching your thesis or dissertation, writing about your findings and designing a stellar master thesis defense presentation, you would hate to see all your hard work be for naught. That’s still a distinct possibility, however, if you don’t also practice your delivery. 

Practice, practice and practice some more until you know your master thesis defense like the back of your hand. No academic panel will be impressed by a graduate candidate who stumbles through their presentation or appears to be reading from their notes. Know the contents of every slide, as well as exactly what parts of your overall defense you want to deliver during its display. 

Things to keep in mind to help you nail your presentation

The golden rule of any presentation is to keep your audience engaged. You can ensure a more engaging presentation by maintaining eye contact, using appropriate gestures, and speaking clearly. You can also choose to include the audience in your presentation with interactive questions, polls, and slides.

To help boost audience retention, utilize storytelling. Studies show that when facts are presented in the form of a story, people are 22 times more likely to remember them. Talk about powerful.

Last but not least, plan for questions— and not simply by allowing time for them. Watch other thesis defenses delivered at your institution, and consider what types of questions the academic panel might ask, so you can prepare the best possible answer.

Extra credit:

Get started with our PhD Defense Thesis presentation template here .

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha is an independent journalist, editor, blogger and content manager. Examples of her published work can be found at sites including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.

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How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

Thesis defence

  • What is a thesis defense?

If you're about to complete, or have ever completed a graduate degree, you have most likely come across the term "thesis defense." In many countries, to finish a graduate degree, you have to write a thesis .

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

Once you hand in your thesis, you will be assigned a date to defend your work. Your thesis defense meeting usually consists of you and a committee of two or more professors working in your program. It may also include other people, like professionals from other colleges or those who are working in your field.

During your thesis defense, you will be asked questions about your work. The main purpose of your thesis defense is for the committee to make sure that you actually understand your field and focus area.

The questions are usually open-ended and require the student to think critically about their work. By the time of your thesis defense, your paper has already been evaluated. The questions asked are not designed so that you actually have to aggressively "defend" your work; often, your thesis defense is more of a formality required so that you can get your degree.

  • Check with your department about requirements and timing.
  • Re-read your thesis.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare for them.
  • Create a back-up plan to deal with technology hiccups.
  • Plan de-stressing activities both before, and after, your defense.
  • How long is a thesis defense?

How long your oral thesis defense is depends largely on the institution and requirements of your degree. It is best to consult your department or institution about this. In general, a thesis defense may take only 20 minutes, but it may also take two hours or more. The length also depends on how much time is allocated to the presentation and questioning part.

Tip: Check with your department or institution as soon as possible to determine the approved length for a thesis defense.

  • What happens at a thesis defense?

First of all, be aware that a thesis defense varies from country to country. This is just a general overview, but a thesis defense can take many different formats. Some are closed, others are public defenses. Some take place with two committee members, some with more examiners.

The same goes for the length of your thesis defense, as mentioned above. The most important first step for you is to clarify with your department what the structure of your thesis defense will look like. In general, your thesis defense will include:

  • your presentation of around 20-30 minutes
  • questions from the committee
  • questions from the audience (if the defense is public and the department allows it)

Your presentation

You might have to give a presentation, often with Powerpoint, Google slides, or Keynote slides. Make sure to prepare an appropriate amount of slides. A general rule is to use about 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation.

But that also depends on your specific topic and the way you present. The good news is that there will be plenty of time ahead of your thesis defense to prepare your slides and practice your presentation alone and in front of friends or family.

Tip: Practice delivering your thesis presentation in front of family, friends, or colleagues.

You can prepare your slides by using information from your thesis' first chapter (the overview of your thesis) as a framework or outline. Substantive information in your thesis should correspond with your slides.

Make sure your slides are of good quality— both in terms of the integrity of the information and the appearance. If you need more help with how to prepare your presentation slides, both the ASQ Higher Education Brief and James Hayton have good guidelines on the topic.

Questions from the committee

The committee will ask questions about your work after you finish your presentation. The questions will most likely be about the core content of your thesis, such as what you learned from the study you conducted. They may also ask you to summarize certain findings and to discuss how your work will contribute to the existing body of knowledge.

Tip: Read your entire thesis in preparation of the questions, so you have a refreshed perspective on your work.

While you are preparing, you can create a list of possible questions and try to answer them. You can foresee many of the questions you will get by simply spending some time rereading your thesis.

  • 6 tips to help you prepare for your thesis defense

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense:

1. Anticipate questions and prepare for them

You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions. In addition, since you will know who will be on the committee, look at the academic expertise of the committee members. In what areas would they most likely be focused?

If possible, sit at other thesis defenses with these committee members to get a feel for how they ask and what they ask. As a graduate student, you should generally be adept at anticipating test questions, so use this advantage to gather as much information as possible before your thesis defense meeting.

2. Dress for success

Your thesis defense is a formal event, often the entire department or university is invited to participate. It signals a critical rite of passage for graduate students and faculty who have supported them throughout a long and challenging process.

While most universities don't have specific rules on how to dress for that event, do regard it with dignity and respect. This one might be a no-brainer, but know that you should dress as if you were on a job interview or delivering a paper at a conference.

3. Ask for help, as needed

It might help you deal with your stress before your thesis defense to entrust someone with the smaller but important responsibilities of your defense well ahead of schedule. This trusted person could be responsible for:

  • preparing the room of the day of defense
  • setting up equipment for the presentation
  • preparing and distributing handouts

4. Have a backup plan

Technology is unpredictable. Life is too. There are no guarantees that your Powerpoint presentation will work at all or look the way it is supposed to on the big screen. We've all been there. Make sure to have a plan B for these situations. Handouts can help when technology fails, and an additional clean shirt can save the day if you have a spill.

5. Prepare for the possibility that you might not know an answer

One of the scariest aspects of the defense is the possibility of being asked a question you can't answer. While you can prepare for some questions, you can never know exactly what the committee will ask.

There will always be gaps in your knowledge. But your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. You are not expected to know everything.

James Hayton writes on his blog that examiners will sometimes even ask questions they don't know the answer to, out of curiosity, or because they want to see how you think. While it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, but you would need to do [...] in order to find out.” This shows that you have the ability to think as an academic.

6. De-stress before, during, and after

You will be nervous. But your examiners will expect you to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions, for example. Dora Farkas at notes that it’s a myth that thesis committees are out to get you.

Two common symptoms of being nervous are talking really fast and nervous laughs. Try to slow yourself down and take a deep breath. Remember what feels like hours to you are just a few seconds in real life.

  • Try meditational breathing right before your defense.
  • Get plenty of exercise and sleep in the weeks prior to your defense.
  • Have your clothes or other items you need ready to go the night before.
  • During your defense, allow yourself to process each question before answering.
  • Go to dinner with friends and family, or to a fun activity like mini-golf, after your defense.

Allow yourself to process each question, respond to it, and stop talking once you have responded. While a smile can often help dissolve a difficult situation, remember that nervous laughs can be irritating for your audience.

We all make mistakes and your thesis defense will not be perfect. However, careful preparation, mindfulness, and confidence can help you feel less stressful both before, and during, your defense.

Finally, consider planning something fun that you can look forward to after your defense.

  • Frequently Asked Questions about preparing an excellent thesis defense

It is completely normal to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions for example if needed. Slow yourself down, and take a deep breath.

Your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. James Hayton writes on his blog that it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", but he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, you would need to do [...] in order to find out".

Your Powerpoint presentation can get stuck or not look the way it is supposed to do on the big screen. It can happen and your supervisors know it. In general, handouts can always save the day when technology fails.

  • Dress for success.
  • Ask for help setting up.
  • Have a backup plan (in case technology fails you).
  • Deal with your nerves.
  • Related Articles

how to start phd thesis presentation


PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Tips for designing the slides

  • Tips for designing the slides
  • Presentation checklist
  • Example slides
  • Additional Resources

Example Slides Repository

  • Defense slides examples Link to examples dissertation defense slides.

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General tips for slide design

Use a plain background, for engineering, a plain, white background is generally ideal for dissertation proposals and defenses. don't pick a template that is too busy and distracting.,     , remember to add p age numbers, having page numbers in your slides will allow your advisors and peers to give comments. during your presentation, the committee members can use page numbers to reference specific slides for their questions. .

how to start phd thesis presentation

Less is more

Don't put too many words on one slide (no more than 20 words per slide, in general)., when words are inevitable, highlight the keywords in each sentence (see examples from i. daniel posen's and l. cook's slides).

how to start phd thesis presentation

Take advantage of animations

Use animations to explain complicated ideas in figures, tables, etc. you can use different slides instead of the animation functions in ms powerpoint; it will avoid overlapping text boxes or pictures when converted to pdf. , below is an example from c. kolb's defense slides. by a step-by-step revealing process, kolb was able to explain each detail without the distraction of other results. .

how to start phd thesis presentation

Write down your notes 

Write down your notes with either bullet points or full sentences as a script. this can help you to remember what you want to say during your defense. when you are practicing, you won't have to come up with new things to say every time and won't forget what you planned to talk about. .

how to start phd thesis presentation

Example 1: slide with notes - exact words to say (C. Mailings 2017)                                               Example 2: slide with notes - bullet points (I. D. Posen 2016) 

Be smart about the title of each slide

Use descriptive language to summarize the key point of the slide, and avoid using vague terms or the same title for several slides that have different contents..

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13 Tips to Prepare for Your PhD Dissertation Defense

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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?

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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The tips are very useful.I will recomend it to our students.

Excellent. As a therapist trying to help a parent of a candidate, I am very impressed and thankful your concise, clear, action-oriented article. Thank you.

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Presenting your PhD in 20 minutes: how do you get started?

how to start phd thesis presentation

“One of the best presentations seen in Corona times.” This sentence comes from the jury report, following the PhD defense of Elien Bellon (KU Leuven). Her research focuses on metacognition in the development of primary school children’s mathematical cognition. She was asked to explain her PhD to a jury and a diverse audience in twenty minutes. How exactly do you go about this?

With sweat beading on her forehead, she decides to enlist the help of The Floor is Yours and sends us the following message:

“I already attended a workshop with you in the past and have read your terrific book. Soon I will be defending my PhD and the university has asked me to do this online. I generally enjoy giving presentations, but am feeling a bit apprehensive about giving an online talk. Normally I draw my energy from seeing a live audience in front of me. How should I approach giving an online presentation?”

We schedule a time to meet. Beforehand, Elien provides me with an audio pitch in which she briefly outlines her research.

I quickly notice that she has all the elements for a stellar talk: a passion for her research and a captivating story. All she needs to do now is clearly bring her story across, and she will be all set.

During the first session I share with her the following tips:

  • Develop a new storyline. Compare a presentation to a travel blog. While you would love to share every detail chronologically, what the audience wants are the highlights. Push your thesis or recent publication aside for a moment and instead pull out a blank page to draw up a new storyline.
  • Focus on a goal. What would you like to achieve with your presentation? The goal often seems to be to share as much as possible in the shortest possible time. But Elien’s goal is to give the jury a clear picture of her research and show them that her approach is valuable.
  • Start with a simple version of your story. In your introduction, immediately tell the audience where you are headed and what exactly the challenge is. So, before diving into the depths with them, first explain your course of action.
  • Make it concrete. Elien’s research focuses on math skills among primary school children, and more precisely metacognition. She provides a general definition of the term, but as long as her audience does not clearly understand this, it will not stick. Instead, first share with your audience an example or a concrete application, and then move on to a definition.

Elien begins to apply our tips. According to university guidelines, she must pre-record her presentation. She decides to make an animation video, with a personalized avatar explaining her research. For this, she uses the Powtoon software.

The day of the online defense, the jury and the audience will first view the video and that will be followed by a question round. We’re excited to hear the reactions!

What does the jury think?

The jury’s immediate reaction is one of praise: “You should certainly consider taking part in presentation competitions. You did very well, both in terms of content and design. Everything was very clear, even for non-experts.”

Also Elien’s colleagues and external attendees are very enthusiastic about the video. At last they now understand the full picture of her research. Elien’s social media accounts see a sudden uptick in new followers and she receives several emails with targeted questions about her research.

Elien: “I couldn’t believe the number of messages I received from people who had found me through Twitter. They asked where they could read more about my research. By creating an animated video I had attracted plenty of attention. I put a lot of time into it but would definitely do it again. Now if someone asks me about my research, I simply share with them the link to my video.”

What tip would you give to fellow researchers?

Elien: “Don’t be afraid to say: “This is how I see things.” Otherwise your message will be lost. I used to have trouble using language that, in my mind, was very black or white. I always wanted to communicate dozens of nuances. I now discovered that you can easily poor those nuances into your answers during the question round.”

How you can improve your online presentation

Will you soon be defending your doctoral or master’s thesis online? Do you need to present your research online? Or are you struggling with the lessons you now teach your students from home? We help you on your way to communicate your message clearly and convincingly online. How?

  • Download our free guide  ‘How to present online?’
  • Watch the videos  of our webinars.
  • Book our workshop  on how to present online.
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10 Tips To Prepare PhD Thesis Defense Presentation

“ PhD thesis defense presentation is prepared at the terminal of the degree to show the research work in the form of a PowerPoint Presentation. Students often fail miserably because they lack knowledge of presentation. Here are some tips to help them.”   

Firstly, congratulate yourself. You have gone through all the pains, problems, and stress and that’s come to over. PhD is a difficult task, indeed. So have done fantastic work, If you are on the way to preparing your PhD defense presentation.

But my friend, the game is yet not over. You are now at the critical phase and now chances of errors are less. For that 1-hour discussion session, everything should be nearly perfect. From your presentation (with a number of slides) to how you will present. 

You have to care about every single point starting from the number of slides, text, visuals, content quantity, and audience attention to the final conclusion. Everything must be in your control. 

But unfortunately, it’s not a story for many. Students fail to give a good presentation, even though their work is great. And advised for re-viva. There are so many reasons for that. Three major points that fail a presentation are– presentation preparation, delivery and audience engagement. 

What is a thesis defense?

The thesis defense is a process to justify your work with logical arguments with the referees. To know more read this article: Defending a PhD thesis like a boss!- an in-depth Guide .

In this article, I will give you 10 tips– proven, practical and actionable to give an amazing PhD thesis defense presentation. Stay tuned. 

10 Tips for PhD Thesis Defense Presentation

1. plan your presentation .

PhD is all about planning– I mean, proper planning. So, you also have to plan for your presentation. Remember, you are at the last stage of getting the honor hence things must be nearly perfect and in your favor. 

Make a rough outline of the points you will discuss in the presentation. Don’t forget to include major and important points. Moreover, give a strong introduction by keeping in mind that the audience is totally unaware of the topic. 

Plan how much text you will use, and the thing about how the evaluator understands and interprets it. Accordingly, prepare your answers. Last, constrain the content in the number of slides recommended by the university. 

Organize each point in a logical sequence and around your research topic only. Don’t give too much information. 

2. Text to the visual ratio 

Your success in the presentation depends on the attention and retention time on each slide. So you should have to balance every slide with texts and visuals. Texts should create curiosity which visuals satisfy and vice versa. 

If your text-to-visual ratio is good, people will give more attention to your talk. However, I strongly recommend not using visuals on every slide. Use when and only it’s needed. After all, it’s a professional demonstration. 

Don’t fill too much text in a slide and the visuals too. Don’t use every image you captured for your results. Use it in the form of one master image, table or chart to show results. Visuals are great for the eyes– the next point explains. 

3. Use visuals 

Imagine there are two types of information on the slide, one written in the form of long text and another in the form of visuals, charts, bars, images and tables, where do you focus? What attracts you more?

Obviously the second one! 

Summarize your ideas, findings and results in the form of a chart, bar, image, table or anything that looks good. Visual helps your audience to engage and at the same time makes things easier to understand. 

Nonetheless, do care about the ratio. Don’t use too many visuals on every slide.

4. Number of slides 

If I ask you, what is the main goal to present your work? To engage an audience and deliver your work. But your research work would only be delivered if people will engage with it. There is a psychology behind numbers. 

People don’t want more if it isn’t understandable. So if at the beginning of the presentation, they know that you have 50 to 60 slides, they naturally feel bored. Try using fewer slides. It creates curiosity. Give more time to explain your point. 

Ideally, I recommend using 20 to 22 slides. 

5. Practice to present 

Practice makes everyone perfect. 

What is more important– Giving more time to prepare the presentation or on how to deliver it? As I aforementioned, planning is the key to success even though you know everything about your research. 

Give more time for preparation. Know which slide contains which point, what is more important, and which slide would take more time. Where to stay and explain, and where to go in a rush. You should have to know everything in order to control the entire session. 

Practice becoming more comfortable with the content you prepared. Record or observe your delivery scheme. Adjust your tone, speech, pace and body language accordingly.  

6. Engage people

People will only admire your work only if they engage. So first, follow the previous point– focus on how you will deliver your presentation. In addition, create curiosity, ask questions, and give some amazing information timely, encourage them to ask questions. 

Also, engage people psychologically— keep a small smile, look confident, and see in their eyes while explaining your point. Dress decently to attract. Use different hand gestures and styles to gain their focus. 

7. Language

You should have a strong grip on the language. If not, work on it, at least for your presentation. Do use transition words to control the flow and engage people. Use emotions with each transition. Use can use words like— furthermore, in addition, however, unfortunately, fortunately, nonetheless, etc. 

Do learn which transition work to use when, why and how, and accordingly use the exact emotion to use it. This increases the overall attention on your presentation. 

8. Strong conclusion 

All’s well that ends well. 

Give a strong conclusion. To end your presentation, give a quick summary– verbally and conclude your point or research in a sentence that best describes it. Create a positive impact by explaining how it would help society or mankind. 

Show a strong emotion to depict the conclusion. Your conclusion should satisfy the audience and inspire them to learn more and ask questions. 

9. Be prepared for discussion 

Now once your session ends, it’s now open for discussion. Encourage or confidently tell the audience to ask their queries. Answer each question to the point and logically. Explain concepts rather than points. 

Admire them for asking questions, and say thank you for their involvement. In case you don’t know the answer, accept it and convince them that you will find the answer. 

10. Technical considerations 

  • The first slide should have your research title, name, guide name and all other credentials necessary. 
  • The title should be large enough to read and bold. 
  • Every slide should have titles and each must be readable enough. 
  • Every slide should have a slide number.
  • The fond style for presentation is “Times New Roman”. 
  • There are no guidelines for font size but every font should be readable enough. 
  • Visuals are clear enough and have high quality. 
  • Use bold, underline, and highlight when needed.
  • Use at least 1.5 spacing between lines. 
  • The presentation file must be in ‘.ppt’. 

Wrapping up

Our students have amazing experience delivering their presentations because we have a huge experience on how to prepare it, deliver it and play with the audience’s mind. Our students prepare well, follow our guidelines and know what questions the referee or audience will ask. 

The reason is their preparation and control over their presentation. If you want to make your presentation amazing you can contact us. I will personally guide you in a 1-hour class. Nonetheless, by keeping these points in mind you can make a difference with your ppt. 

I hope this information and tips will help you to deliver an amazing PhD thesis defense presentation.

Dr. Tushar Chauhan is a Scientist, Blogger and Scientific-writer. He has completed PhD in Genetics. Dr. Chauhan is a PhD coach and tutor.

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This page is about how to turn your research (once it's done) into a readable multi-chapter document. You need to figure out what to include, how to organize it, and how to present it.

Following this advice will make me happier about reading your submitted or draft dissertation. You may find it useful even if I'm not going to read your dissertation.

Many others have written usefully on this subject , including someone in the Annals of Improbable Research . There's also advice on writing a thesis proposal . However, this page focuses on what a finished dissertation should look like. You could also skim good dissertations on the web.

What Goes Into a Dissertation?

A typical thesis will motivate why a new idea is needed, present the cool new idea, convince the reader that it's cool and new and might apply to the reader's own problems, and evaluate how well it worked. Just like a paper!

The result must be a substantial, original contribution to scientific knowledge. It signals your official entrance into the community of scholars. Treat it as an chance to make a mark, not as a 900-page-tall memorial to your graduate student life.

Beyond stapling

The cynical view is that if you've written several related papers, you staple them together to get a dissertation. That's a good first-order approximation -- you should incorporate ideas and text from your papers. But what is it missing?

First, a thesis should cohere -- ideally, it should feel like one long paper. Second, it should provide added value: there should be people who would prefer reading it to simply reading your papers. Otherwise writing it would be a meaningless exercise.

Here's what to do after stapling:

Taking Responsibility

Don't expect your advisor to be your co-author. It's your Ph.D.: you are sole author this time and the responsibility is on your shoulders. If your prose is turgid or thoughtless, misspelled or ungrammatical, oblivious or rude to related research, you're the one who looks bad.

You can do it! Your advisor and committee are basically on your side -- they're probably willing to make suggestions about content and style -- but they are not obligated to fix problems for you. They may send your dissertation back and tell you to fix it.

In the following sections, I'll start with advice about the thesis as a whole, and work downward, eventually reaching small details such as typography and citations.

Know Your Audience

First, choose your target audience. That crucial early decision will tell you what to explain, what to emphasize, and how to phrase and organize it. Checking it with your advisor might be wise.

Pretty much everything in your thesis should be relevant to your chosen audience. Think about them as you write. Ask yourself:

What does your audience already know?

You can also safely assume that your readers have some prior familiarity with your research area. Just how much familiarity, and with which topics, is a judgment call -- again, you have to decide who your intended audience is.

In practice, your audience will be somewhat mixed. Up to a point, it is possible to please both beginners and experts -- by covering background material crisply and in the service of your own story . How does that work? As you lay out the motivation for your own work, and provide notation, you'll naturally have to discuss background concepts and related work. But don't give a generic review that someone else could have written! Discuss the background in a way that motivates and clarifies your ideas. Present your detailed perspective on the intellectual landscape and where your own work sits in it -- a fresh (even opinionated) take that keeps tying back to your main themes and will be useful for both experts and beginners.

In short, be as considerate as you can to beginners without interrupting the flow of your main argument to your established colleagues. A good rule of thumb is to write at the level of the most accessible papers in the journals or conference proceedings that you read.

What do you want your audience to learn from the thesis?

You should set clear goals here. Just like a paper or a talk, your dissertation needs a point: it should tell a story. Writing the abstract and chapter 1 at the start will help you work out what that story is.

You may find that you have to do further work to really support your chosen story: more experiments, more theorems, reading more literature, etc.

What does your audience hope to get out of the thesis?

Why does anyone crack open a dissertation, anyway? I sometimes do. Especially for areas that I know less well, a dissertation is often more accessible than shorter, denser papers. It takes a more leisurely pace, provides more explicit motivation and background, and answers more of the questions that I might have.

There are other reasons I might look at your dissertation:

For students, reading high-quality dissertations is a good way to learn an area and to see what a comprehensive treatment of a problem looks like. Noah A. Smith once ran a graduate CS seminar in which the students read 8 dissertations together. Each student was also required to select and summarize yet another dissertation and write a novel research proposal based on it.

Readers with different motivations may read your thesis in different ways. The strong convention is that it's a single document that must read well from start to finish -- your committee will read it that way. But it's worth keeping other readers in mind, too. Some will skim from start to finish. Some will read only the introductory and concluding chapters (so make sure those give a strong impression of what you've done and why it's important). Some will read a single chapter in the middle, going back for definitions as needed. Some will scan or search for what they need: a definition, example, table of results, or literature review. Some will flip through to get a general sense of your work or of how you think, reading whatever catches their eye.

High-Level Organization

Once you've chosen your target audience, you should outline the structure of the thesis. Again, the convention is that the document must read well from start to finish.

The "canonical organization" is sketched by Douglas Comer near the end of his advice . Read that: you'll probably want something like it. A few further tips:

Keep your focus

Keep your focus. Length is not a virtue unless the content is actually interesting. You do have as much space as you need, but the reader doesn't have unlimited time and neither do you.

Get to the good stuff

A newspaper, like a dissertation, is a hefty chunk of reading. So it puts the most important news on page one, and leads each article with the most important part. You should try to do the same when reasonable.

Get to the interesting ideas as soon as possible. A good strategy is to make Chapter 1 an overview of your main arguments and findings. Tell your story there in a compelling way, including a taste of your results. Refer the reader to specific sections in later chapters for the pesky details. Chapter 1 should be especially accessible (use examples): make it the one chapter that everyone should read.

Include a road map

Chapter 1 traditionally ends with a "road map" to the rest of the thesis, which rapidly summarizes what the remaining chapters or sections will contain. That's useful guidance for readers who are looking for something specific and also for those who will read the whole thesis. It also exhibits in one place what an awful lot of work you've done. Here's a detailed example .

Where to put the literature review

I recommend against writing "Chapter 2: Literature Review." Such chapters are usually boring: they're plonked down like the author's obligatory list of what he or she was "supposed" to cite. They block the reader from getting to the new ideas, and can't even be contrasted with the new ideas because those haven't been presented yet.

A better plan is to discuss related literature in conjunction with your own ideas. As you motivate and present your ideas, you'll want to refer to some related work anyway.

Each chapter might have its own related work section or sections, covering work that connects to yours in different ways.

Where to define terminology and notation

Basic terminology, concepts, and notation have to be defined somewhere. But where? You can mix the following strategies:

Retail. You can define some terms or notation individually, when the reader first needs them. Then they will be well-motivated and fresh in the reader's mind. If you use them again later, you can refer back to the section where you first defined them.

Wholesale. On the other hand, there are advantages to aggregating some of your fundamental definitions into a "Definitions" section near the start of the chapter, or a chapter near the start of the dissertation:


The downside is that such sections or chapters can seem boring and full of not-yet-motivated concepts. Unless your definitions are novel and interesting in themselves, they block the reader from getting to the new and interesting ideas. So if you write something like "Chapter 2: Preliminaries," keep it relatively concise -- the point is to get the reader oriented.

Thrift shop. Use well-known notation and terminology whenever you can, either with or without a formal definition in your thesis. The point of your thesis is not to re-invent notation or to re-present well-known material, although sometimes you may find it helpful to do so.

Make Things Easy on Your Poor Readers

Now we get down to the actual writing. A dissertation is a lot to write. But it's also an awful lot to read and digest at once! You can keep us readers turning pages and following your argument. But it's a bigger and more complicated argument than usual, so you have to be more disciplined than usual.

Break it down

Long swaths of text are like quicksand for readers (and writers!). To keep us moving without sinking, use all the devices at your disposal to break the text down into short chunks. Ironically, short chunks are more helpful in a longer document. They keep your argument tightly organized and keep the reader focused and oriented.

If a section or subsection is longer than 1 double-spaced page , consider whether you could break it down further. I'm not joking! This 1-page threshold may seem surprisingly short, but it really makes writing and reading easier. Some devices you can use:

subsectioning Split your section into subsections (or subsubsections) with meaningful titles that keep the reader oriented.

lists If you're writing a paragraph and feel like you're listing anything (e.g., advantages or disadvantages of some approach), then use an explicit bulleted list. Sometimes this might yield a list with only 2 or 3 rather long bullet points, but that's fine -- it breaks things down. ( Note: To replace the bullets with short labels, roughly as in the list you're now reading, LaTeX's itemize environment lets you write \item[my label] .)

labeled paragraphs Label a series of paragraphs within the section, as a kind of lightweight subsectioning. Your experimental design section might look like this (using the LaTeX \paragraph command):

Participants. The participants were 32 undergraduates enrolled in ... Apparatus. Each participant wore a Star Trek suit equipped with a Hasbro-brand Galactic Translator, belt model 3A ... Procedure. The subjects were seated in pairs throughout the laboratory and subjected to Vogon poetry broadcast at 3-minute intervals ... Dataset. The Vogon poetry corpus (available on request) was obtained by passing the later works of T. S. Eliot through the Systran translation system ...

footnotes Move inessential points to footnotes. If they're too long for that, you could move them into appendices or chapters near the end of the thesis. (Here's my take on footnotes .)

captions Move some discussion of figures and tables into their captions. Figures and tables should be clearly structured in the first place: e.g., graphs should have labeled axes with units. But a helpful caption provides guidance on how to interpret the figure or table and what interesting conclusions to draw from it. The figure or table should itself include helpful labels (axis

(In LaTeX, you can write \caption[short version]{long version} . The optional short version argument will be used for the "List of Tables" or "List of Figures" at the start of the thesis.)

theorems Even simple formal results can be stated as a theorem or lemma. The theorem (and proof, if included) form a nice little chunk, using the LaTeX theorem enviroment.

Breaking down equations

Long blocks of equations are even more intimidating than long swaths of text. You can break those apart, too:

Intersperse short bits of text for guidance (perhaps using LaTeX \intertext ). You might introduce line 3 of your formula with

A change of variable from x to log x now allows us to integrate by parts:

Distinguish conceptually important steps from finicky steps that just push symbols around. You can even move finicky steps to a footnote, like this:

Some algebraic manipulation 5 allows us to simplify to the following:

Use visual devices like color, boldface, underlining, boxes, or \underbrace to call attention to significant parts of a formula:

Simplify the formulas in the first place by defining intermediate quantities or adopting notational conventions (e.g., "the t subscript will be dropped when it is clear from context").

Now tie it back together

Now that you've chopped your prose into bite-sized chunks, what binds it together?

Coherent and explicit structure

Your paragraphs and chunks have to tie together into a coherent argument. Do everything you can to highlight the structure of this argument. The structure should jump out at the reader, making it possible to read straight through your text, or skim it. Else the reader will get stuck puzzling out what you meant and lose momentum.

Make sure your readers are never perplexed about the point of the paragraph they're reading. Make them want to keep turning the page because you've set up questions to which they want to know the answers. Don't make them rub their eyes in frustration or boredom and wander off to the fridge or the web browser.

So how exactly do you "highlight the structure" and "set up questions"?

Ask questions explicitly and then answer them, as I just did. This is a great device for breaking up boring prose, communicating your rhetorical goals, and making the reader think.

Explicitly refer back to previous text, as when I wrote, "So how exactly do you 'highlight the structure' and 'set up questions'?"

Use lots of transitional phrases (discourse connectives). Note that it's fine to use these across chunk boundaries; that is, feel free to start a new subsection with "For this reason, ...", picking up where the previous subsection left off.

As you come to the end of a section, remind the reader what the point was. If possible, this should lead naturally into the next section.

If a section is skippable, or chapters can be read out of order, do say so. (But don't use this as an excuse for poor organization or long distractions. Some readers tend to read straight through, and in particular, your advisor or committee may feel that they must do this.)

Lots of internal cross-references

A thesis deals with a lot of ideas at once. Readers can easily lose track. Help them out:

Each figure or table should be mentioned in the main text, so that the reader knows to go look at it. Conversely, the figure's caption may point the reader back to details in the main text (stating the section number). A caption may also refer to other figures or tables that the reader should be sure to compare.

Boldface terms that you are defining, as a textbook would. This makes the definitions easy to spot when needed. You may also want to generate an index of boldfaced terms.

Be very consistent in your terminology. Never use two terms for the same idea; never reuse one term or variable for two ideas.

Be cautious about using pronouns like "it," or other anaphors such as "this" or "this technique." With all the ideas flying around, it won't always be obvious to everyone what you're referring to. Use longer, unambiguous phrases instead, when appropriate.

Try saying "the time t " instead of just " t " or just "the time." Similarly, "the image transformation T ," "the training example x i ," etc. This style reminds the reader of which variables are connected to which concepts. You can further do this for expressions: "the total probability Σ i p i " instead of just "the total probability" or "the sum."

Feel free to lavish space where it confers extra understanding. Don't hesitate to give an example or a caveat, or repeat an earlier equation, or crisply summarize earlier work that the reader needs to understand.

Be concrete

As I read a thesis, or a long argument or construction within a thesis, I often start worrying whether I am keeping the pieces together correctly in my head. Something that has become deeply familiar and natural to you (the world expert) may be rougher going for me. If I can see some concrete demonstration of how your idea works, it helps me check and deepen my understanding.

Examples keep the reader, and you, from getting lost in a morass of abstractions. Example cases figured in your thinking; they can help the reader, too. Invented examples are okay, but using "real" examples will also show off what your methods should or can do.

Running examples greet the reader like old friends. The reader will grasp a point more quickly and completely, and remember it better, when it is applied to a familiar example rather than a new one. So if possible, devise one or two especially nice examples that you can keep revisiting to make a series of points.

Pictures serve much the same role as examples: they're concrete and they share how the ideas really look inside your head. A picture is worth at least a thousand words (= 2.5 double-spaced thesis pages).

Pseudocode is a concrete way to convey an algorithm. It is often more concise, precise, and direct than a prose description, and may be closer to your own thinking. It will also make other people much more likely to understand and adopt your methods.

Theorems , too, are concise and precise. They are also self-contained chunks, because they formally state all their assumptions. A reader sloshing through a long, complicated, contextual argument can always grab onto a theorem as an island of certainty.

Experimental results are also concrete. You don't have to wait for the experimental section: it is okay to foreshadow your experiments before you present them in full. When you are developing the theory, you can say "Indeed, we will find experimentally in section 5.6 that ..." You can even showcase an example from your experiments or give some summary statistics; these might not even show up later in the experimental section.

Commitments keep the reader anchored. As noted earlier, your dissertation should discuss alternative solutions that you rejected or are leaving to future work. That's scholarship. But make it clear from the start what you actually did and didn't do. Don't have section 2.3 chatter on about everything one could do -- that reads like a proposal, not a thesis! -- while waiting till section 4.5 or even 2.5 to reveal what you actually did.

Placing these concrete elements early is best, other things equal. Either embed them early in the section or just tell the reader early on to go look at Figure X. (If you continue the section by discussing Figure X, the reader is more likely to actually go look. Figure X or its caption can refer back to the text in turn.)

For example, consider pseudocode. Some readers prefer code to prose, and it's concise. So you may want to give pseudocode early in the section, before you ramble on about why it works. An alternative is to intersperse fragments of pseudocode with your prose explanation, as in literate programming . Of course, the pseudocode itself should also include some brief comments; where necessary these can just point to the text, as in "implements equation (5)" or "see section 3.2."

Sentences. The previous section dealt with sections and paragraphs, but how about sentences? Yours should read well. The best advice in The Elements of Style : "Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise." To learn how to improve your sentences, read Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace , by Joseph M. Williams, and do the exercises. Another classic is On Writing Well , by William Zinsser.

Computers are getting exponentially faster (Moore, 1965). However, Biddle (1971) showed ...
Bandura's (1977) theory ... ... (e.g., Butcher, 1954; Baker, 1955; Candlestick-Maker, 1957, and others). The work of Minor (2001, pp. 50-75; but see also Adams, 1999; Storandt, 1997) ... According to Manning and Schütze, 1999 (henceforth M&S), ...

(Another option is the apacite package, which precisely follows the style manual of the American Psychological Association. It is nearly as flexible in its citation format, but APA style has some oddities, including lowercasing the titles of proceedings volumes. One nice thing about APA style is that if you have multiple Smiths in your bibliography, it will distinguish them where necessary, using first and middle initials. Another nice thing is the use of "&" rather than "and" in author lists; however, you can easily hack plainnat.bst to mimic this behavior.)

\usepackage[colorlinks]{ hyperref } \usepackage{ url }
\usepackage[usenames,dvipsnames,svgnames,table]{xcolor} \usepackage{soul} \newcommand{\todo}[1]{\hl{[TODO: #1]}} \todo{Either prove this or back away from the claim. I think Fermat's Last Theorem might be the key ...}
... only 58 words in the dictionary have this property. % to get that count: % perl -ne 'print if blah blah' /usr/share/dict/words | wc -l

Version control. It's probably wise to use git (or CVS or RCS or Subversion or mercurial or darcs) to keep the revision history of your dissertation files. This lets you roll back to an earlier version in case of disaster. Furthermore, if you host the repository on your account, it will be backed up by the department.

Sharing your thesis. When you're willing to open up for comments from fellow students, your advisor, or your committee, give them a secret URL from which they can always download the latest, up-to-date release of your thesis, as well as earlier versions. (This is probably friendlier than just pointing them to your git repository.)

Keep this URL up to date with your changes. Each distinct version should bear a visible date or version number, to avoid confusion. For each new version (or on request), you should probably also supply a PDF that marks up the differences from an appropriate earlier version, using the wonderful latexdiff program (available here or as an Linux package; plays nicely with git via latexdiff-git or other scripts ) or a similar technique . (Note: If you use a makefile to build your document by running latex, gnuplot, etc., then you can also make it run latexdiff and update the URL for you.)

If you use Overleaf , just give your committee a view URL for your project. They will be able to see the PDF, visit different versions, and leave comments in the source file.

Planning Your Dissertation

Every dissertation is a little different. Talk to your advisor to draft a specific, written plan for what the thesis will contain, how it will be organized, and whom it will address. Discuss the plan with each of your committee members, who may suggest changes. They might disagree with advice on this page; find out.

As the dissertation takes shape, your plan may need some revision. Your advisor and committee may be willing to provide early feedback. But no one will want to slog through more than a version or two in detail. So ask them each how many drafts of each chapter they're willing to read, and in what state and on what schedule. Some of them nmay prefer to influence your writeup while it's still in an early, outline form. Others may prefer to wait until your prose is fairly polished and easy to read.

In addition to your advisor's goals and your committee's goals, you may have some goals of your own, e.g.,

GOOD LUCK!!! Now, download that LaTeX template , and take the first step toward filling it in today ...

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How to write a thesis for phd.

How to Write a Thesis for PhD

How to Write PhD Thesis

The speciality of a PhD thesis lies in its uniqueness. Against all the other kinds of research works, a PhD thesis is a matter of great importance for respective Academic field. The target of a PhD thesis is not only to get an academic degree but to make a very valuable contribution in the determined field of research. Universities take great pride in possessing a PhD thesis that has innovative discoveries and path breaking ideas to resolve issues.

It is the high quality expectations that a PhD thesis holds, makes it a very complex and complicated piece of work. During the submission period, the PhD scholar undergoes enormous questions and queries regarding the thesis. It is the though knowledge about the research field that adds validity to the thesis. A well-constructed and appropriately structured thesis attained great credibility.     

Background Purpose to resolve Research Issue

The background purpose of writing a PhD thesis is not only to earn a degree but to motivate a very innovatively researched new idea. This new idea aims to resolve a determined concern that has not been resolved till date. This is the reason that the question of - How to write a PhD thesis? - is not only challenging but also demands extensive background knowledge about the particular selected topic. It is important for the researcher to offer an original and a very scientifically convincing paper to the University to get recognised as PhD scholar.

The figure below illustrate the background for initiating a PhD thesis. The foremost step in this process is to identify the Research Problem that has not been solved yet. As the research problem gets detected the research need to plan for a new research in the respective field. This needs voracious reading and skimming of literature in the relevant field.

writing a PhD thesis

The phase for voracious reading will make the reader about the specific domain related to the research field that is not yet researched by any former researcher. This is called the ‘ Gap ’. As the gap gets identified the researcher is all set to start with the process of collecting data to bridge the gap. This leads to the ultimate process of writing the PhD thesis.

As the writing process starts the researcher needs to have a clear picture about the structure of the thesis. The following guidelines offers the best tips for writing a PhD thesis through a clear structural distribution.

Structure of a Thesis Writing

The structure of a Thesis must comprise of the following section. It is important to note here that the titles enlisted below is subject to get named or structured as per the researcher. However, the chapter wise distributions will remain same. The figure noted below offers basic framework to guide you towards - How to write a thesis for PhD?

Table of contents

Acknowledgments, table of contents, list of figures, graphs & tables.

  • Chapter 1 Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Literature Review
  • Chapter 3 Research Methodology
  • Chapter 4 Results & Analyses
  • Chapter 5 Discussion
  • Chapter 6 Conclusions
  • Chapter 7 Recommendations & Future Study


  • Proofreading, Editing, & Publication

The ‘ Cover Page ’ of a PhD thesis must declare the Title of the Research. The researcher can choose to have a watermark about the case or the University in this page.

The page for the ‘Title Page’ comprises of the title of the thesis. It must be accompanied by the following information-

  • Title of the PhD thesis in ALL CAPS.
  • Name of the Research Scholar
  • Name of the Department
  • Name of the University
  • Name of the Degree Program
  • Name of the Supervisor
  • Date of Submission

This page for ‘Acknowledgements’ is very important as in this page the researcher needs to make declarations about all those people who guided and supported him/her in accomplishing the research process. It usually starts with- “ I would like to thank …”

This page is meant to offer the core idea about the objectives and the process of results. The results and conclusion of the research also gets expressed here. However, is the researcher is inclined to offer more detail declarations about the research, then this abstract should be termed as ‘ Executive Summary ’. The ‘ Executive Summary ’ is a detailed description about the research process that has been stated in a very concise manner in the ‘ Abstract’ .

The page for ‘ Table of Contents ’ is like a map to the research work with specific page numbers. It declares all the headings and subheadings that are noted in the research work. This page in the soft copy of the PhD thesis offers direct accessibility to the required page.

This page enlists the offered figures, graphs and tables as added to the research paper . For easy accessibility, it gives the page numbers along with the title of thefigures, graphs and tables.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This is usually noted as the 1str Chapter of the PhD thesis. The most important inclusions in this chapter are –

  • Research statement
  • Research Background
  • Aims of the Research
  • Research Question/ Problem
  • Research Objectives
  • Research Hypotheses (if any)
  • Research Relevance
  • Research Structure

Chapter 2: Literature Review

In the process of how to write a thesis or how to write a PhD thesis , this chapter is very important. It is all about going from unknown to known. In this chapter, the researcher needs to understand the responsibility of evaluating all those aspects that can add information to the research objectives.  For this purpose this chapter must include-

  • Empirical Knowledge
  • Conceptual Realisations
  • Theoretical Introspections

For meeting the aforementioned targets the researcher must read relevant books, peer-reviewed journal articles, various official data and information as made available by the University library. Moreover, in order to search the relevant information in the internet, it is necessary to consider most reliable sources like- Google Scholar, JSTOR, Emerald, EBSCO, etc. To resolve the issues related to the concerned topic, the research must follow the following approach -

the writing process

Note : Every source must be well acknowledged here to avoid Plagiarism.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

This chapter gets constructed once the researcher decides the ways to collect primary data. The primary data gets collected to bridge the gap identified in the secondary data. Selection of right research methodology depends on the type of data the researcher aims to have. Under the best tips for writing a PhD thesis , the research methodology declares the way to analyse the collected data.

  • Qualitative Approach is for data in the form of words
  • Quantitative approach is data in the form of statistical variables. 
  • Descriptive Approach measures information at its original form.
  • Experimental Approach is about performing experiment.

Chapter 4: Results & Analyses

This chapter on Results & Analyses must be structured in such a way that the reader feels comfortable in absorbing the idea and the derivations, as presented by the researcher. This chapter must follow the points noted below-

  • Results should be declared by actual observations, statistical derivations
  • Results must be analysed in statements, tables & graphs, for better understanding.
  • The analyses of the results must remain in relation with the secondary data attained through the Literature Review.

Chapter 5: Discussion

This chapter on Discussion remains focused in meeting the research objectives by establishing the relation between the primary and secondary data. The researcher must consider the following best tips for writing a PhD thesis-

  • Both positive and negative derivations in an unbiased manner.
  • The discussion should open doors for further investigations.

Chapter 6: Conclusions

This chapter sums up all the entire research work. In this chapter the researcher needs to explain the process of research and the ways he/she attained the relevance of the study.

Chapter 7: Recommendations & Future Study

The chapter on Recommendations & Future Study is very significant as pot paves way for solutions and future means of developing research in the respective fields. This is a chapter that offers a vision to the research and thus is very important part of the entire study.

In this section, the researcher needs to enlist all those secondary sources that are used in the research. This list must be structured as per the University recommended and subject-oriented Harvard, APA, MLA or Chicago styles. Error of any kind in this section is can lead to disapproval of the work. 

In this list the researcher needs to mention all those literary sources that can support wider and better understanding of the research topic.

This is a section that needs to include additional information about the research work. This section can include-

  • Explained Calculations
  • Excerpts of important Texts
  • Additional Resourceful Material
  • List of various equipment used in the research
  • Necessary Figures and Tables

Proofreading, Editing, & Publication

As the research compilation comes to an end, it is the responsibility of the researcher to scrutinise the work thoroughly. Under the query of how to write thesis or how to write a thesis for PhD, the necessary check list has been mentioned below-

Research Paper Proofreading

Ensure that the entire work gets investigated well. The research needs to -

  • Check the entire content for integration
  • Editing spelling and grammar
  • Appropriate mode of referencing as per prescribed style
  • Removal of ambiguity for clear understanding
  • Maintaining word-count to meet prescribed length
  • Check the entire document for plagiarism to avoid legal action
  • Submission for final approval and publication

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How to Write a Thesis? PhD Thesis Format

How to Write a Thesis

Dr. Somasundaram R


Table of contents

Chapter 1: introduction, chapter 2: background, chapter 3: related work, participants:, how the data were handled:, what was found:, statistics:, chapter 8: further work, chapter 9: summary conclusions, chapter 10: additional information, size of letters and symbols, axes and their labels:, size of letters and symbols:, different symbols, legends:, connecting data points:, drawing theoretical lines:.

A Thesis or Dissertation is a document that presents the author’s research and findings and is submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification. Thesis statements at the primary argument and it tells supervisors what you want to ascertain. It goes to all depth of topic throughout the thesis work and in the conclusion part, the topic and its finding are summarized. In this article, ilovephd lists the PhD Dissertation or thesis format in detail to know how to write a thesis.

Also Read: 11 Differences Between a  Thesis  and an Article | iLovePhD

General PhD Dissertation /Thesis Format to Write a Thesis

  • Includes aspects of all parts of the paper. 
  • Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussions are part of it.
  • Is self-contained
  • A Reader can tell from the abstract alone what the paper is about ØUsually 120 words or less
  • States the problem the paper addresses.
  • Puts the problem in the theoretical context.
  • Cites earlier work on the problem.
  • States what the study will contribute to understanding the problem.
  • States the hypotheses of the study.
  • Demonstrate wider appreciation (context). The study should motvate the fellow researchers.
  • The problem statement and the motivation state how you want the PhD to be judged – as engineering , scientific method, theory, philosophy, etc.
  • Survey and critical assessment. Relation to your own work.
  • Extensive literature review will help you to address the research gap.


  • Discuss about the tools, techniques and the approach used to carry out the research and gather data.
  • Another person could replicate your study
  • A reader could study and tell whether conclusions are valid
  • Everything is in the past tense
  • Covers: participants, apparatus, design, procedure etc.
  • Describes the participants and their characteristics
  • Tells how the participants were selected
  • States what inducements were offered for participation
  • Lists species, strain, supplier, age, and other specifics of subjects
  • Lists equipment, computer programs, questionnaires used.
  • If apparatus is specialized, refers to articles that describe it.
  • Describe custom equipment, programs, and the like.
  • This subsection appears only in a report of an experiment, not in a survey, observational study, or the like
  • Describes the logic of the experiments .
  • Lists variables and levels of independent variables.
  • Describes steps in carrying out design.
  • Procedure subsection may be incorporated into the design.
  • List methods of control, such as randomization.
  • Summarizes specialized instructions to participants.
  • Instructions may include a scale for response

Chapter 5-6:  Data

Data part is the important chapter for every researcher how looking for how to write a thesis. it includes Analysis, design, implementation and interpretation of results.

  • Use only past tense
  • Describes any transformations made on the data.
  • Explains any data that were eliminated from analysis
  • States principal findings clearly.
  • Avoids description of individual subjects or individual data points.
  • Refers reader to table or figure, if applicable.
  • Doesn’t repeat detailed information found in the table.
  • Doesn’t let a description of statistics substitute for a description of results.
  • Names any statistic used and gives statistical significance of results (value of statistic, degrees of freedom, significance level).
  • Generally avoids describing trends or data points that are not statistically significant.


  • State hypothesis, and demonstrate precision, thoroughness, contribution, and comparison with closest rival.
  • Clearly states whether hypotheses were supported.
  • Interprets results.
  • Avoids introducing further results, except incidental to comparison with other published results.
  • Relates results to those of others.
  • Cites other work discussed.
  • Relates results to theory
  • Discusses limitations and weaknesses of results.
  • Avoids ad hoc explanations of difficulties.
  • Discusses implications for further research.
  • Suggests applications of findings, when appropriate.
  • Avoids undue speculation.
  • States conclusions in the present tense
  • Recommend further scope of your study based on the present work.
  • Restate contribution and make conclusions.
  • The conclusion should solve the real-time problems.
  • Bibliography
Also Read: How to Write a Research Paper? Research Paper Format

Additional General Format Guidelines to write a PhD Thesis

  • Starts on a new page.
  • Includes every citation in the text.
  • Does not include any references not cited in the text of the paper.
  • Are in alphabetical order.
  • Uses a hanging indent of five spaces.
  • Citing references at appropriate places in the paper is necessary and important to  avoid plagiarism .
  • When you cite a reference, make sure that you understand its relevance to your research work.
  • The references should be listed at the end of the manuscript and each journal has its own referencing style.
  • Reflects awareness that the purpose of a figure is to communicate information. 
  • Uses graph paper for all hand-drawn graphs, but is generally computer-generated.
  • Places only one graph per page.  Exceptions include when frequency and cumulative frequency can be superimposed on the same axes.
  • Is all drawn by ruler or computer, including axes, histograms, and line graphs ØUses black (pencil or) ink only.  Do not  use colour because journals generally do not reproduce colour graphics

Uses letters and symbols large enough to be legible when the figure is reduced in size. (A good test is to see if you can read your graph from about 15 feet away).

  • Generally, size graphs about two-thirds as high as they are wide. 
  • Ordinarily, has the origin (where the x and y axes cross) at zero.  If this would result in excessive white space, indicate a nonzero origin with a break.  The origin of the y -axis must be zero for a cumulative frequency.
  • Uses different symbols for data points that do not belong together and are connected by the same line.
  • Labels two or more types of symbols in a figure or defines them in a legend.  The legend appears somewhere in the white space inside the figure.

Connects all data points using straight lines only, unless they represent a theoretical function (such as linear regression).  Curved lines should represent relationships or theoretical equations that you have computed.

  • Does not treat the dots used to locate theoretical lines as data points.  (These dots are not shown in publications)
  • Exception: Frequency polygons and cumulative frequency polygons must start at zero.

Hope, this article helps you to know how to structure the thesis or dissertation from general PhD thesis format to know how to write a thesis.

Note: The guidelines for PhD Dissertation or Thesis format may vary from Universty to University.

  • Dissertation vs Thesis
  • General PhD Thesis Format
  • How to Write Thesis
  • Research Methodology
  • Thesis Format

Dr. Somasundaram R

Paper Acceptance: A 5-Step Framework for PhD Students

10 tips for viva success: a guide to navigating your thesis defense, the average response time for research proposal.

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    Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense: 1. Anticipate questions and prepare for them. You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions.

  10. PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Example slides

    PhD Dissertation Defense Slides Design: Example slides. Start; Tips for designing the slides; Presentation checklist; Example slides; Additional Resources; Acknowledgments Thank all Ph.D.s for sharing their presentations. If you are interested in sharing your slides, please contact Julie Chen ([email protected]).

  11. Tips for designing the slides

    Remember to Add P age Numbers Having page numbers in your slides will allow your advisors and peers to give comments. During your presentation, the committee members can use page numbers to reference specific slides for their questions.

  12. 13 Tips to Prepare for Your PhD Dissertation Defense

    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?

  13. How to prepare for your PhD thesis defence The preparation for your defence begins on day 1 of your PhD0:40 Know the format2:00 ...

  14. How to Create and Present a Thesis Defense Presentation?

    Are you a graduate student preparing for your thesis defense? Your thesis defense is a crucial moment in your academic career, and it's essential to be well-...

  15. How to prepare for PhD thesis Presentation

    In this video, we are going to discuss some of the preparation methods for defending a Ph.D. thesis. There are some highly useful tips that are helpful to gi...

  16. Begin Every PhD Presentation Like a TED Talk

    My Best Tips for Scientific Presentation #PowerPoint #PhD #SciComm #TEDTalk #Communication (Long Title)Do you feel overwhelmed by the idea of presenting your...

  17. How to Make a Thesis Defense Presentation That Will Impress Your

    Keeping your defense simple will cut through all the other noise. Work on narrowing the focus of each slide to cover one point. Just one. Condensing ideas is tough, especially when you're discussing a complex issue. But taking your presentation one slide at a time ensures the audience can follow your argument clearly.

  18. Presenting your PhD in 20 minutes: how do you get started?

    Focus on a goal. What would you like to achieve with your presentation? The goal often seems to be to share as much as possible in the shortest possible time. But Elien's goal is to give the jury a clear picture of her research and show them that her approach is valuable. Start with a simple version of your story.

  19. 10 Tips To Prepare PhD Thesis Defense Presentation

    1. Plan your presentation. PhD is all about planning- I mean, proper planning. So, you also have to plan for your presentation. Remember, you are at the last stage of getting the honor hence things must be nearly perfect and in your favor. Make a rough outline of the points you will discuss in the presentation.

  20. How to create an Awesome PhD Thesis Défense PPT ...

    How to create an Awesome PhD Thesis Défense PPT Presentation that shows your work at its Best? #PPTIt's not just what you present that matters — it's how you...

  21. How to Write Up a Ph.D. Dissertation

    That's scholarship. But make it clear from the start what you actually did and didn't do. Don't have section 2.3 chatter on about everything one could do -- that reads like a proposal, not a thesis! -- while waiting till section 4.5 or even 2.5 to reveal what you actually did. Placing these concrete elements early is best, other things equal ...

  22. How to Write a Thesis for PhD

    How to Write PhD Thesis. The speciality of a PhD thesis lies in its uniqueness. Against all the other kinds of research works, a PhD thesis is a matter of great importance for respective Academic field. The target of a PhD thesis is not only to get an academic degree but to make a very valuable contribution in the determined field of research.

  23. How to Write a Thesis? PhD Thesis Format

    Set the scene and problem statement. Introduce structure of thesis, state contributions. States the problem the paper addresses. Puts the problem in the theoretical context. Cites earlier work on the problem. States what the study will contribute to understanding the problem. States the hypotheses of the study.