PhD Synopsis Writing: 4 questions your committee (RDC/DRC) will definitely ask you

It is important for a PhD candidate to be able to anticipate in advance the kind of questions that will be asked by your committee when you present your  proposal.

Before we go forward to figure out which are the most probable questions, you must know what the main reasons behind conducting a RDC are:

  • Whether you understand your thesis topic well or not
  • what are the reasons behind your thesis topic selection
  • Do you have sufficient knowledge of research methodology to apply in your proposed study?
  • Are you passionate enough about doing PhD, that you will sustain all the pressure that will come with it?
  • Is there novelty in your research topic to generate substantive contribution in research in the coming times to come?
  • Does your topic have the longevity to remain useful and interesting to the research community for a long time to come?

You must remember that a PhD viva is an open book exam. Which means that you can bring any material that you wish to for reference and discussion during the process. Make sure that you carry:

  • A copy of your well-written synopsis
  • The list of probable questions and the best answers that you have prepared for it
  • Some key literature references that you have studies before identifying your research gap
  • The proposed or standardized questionnaire, if you have one for your study.

Before we discuss the most probable questions, remember that if the RDC asks you a lot of questions, it does not mean that they doubt your topic or potential or they may reject your synopsis. Their purpose is to brainstorm and take out the best version of your research topic. So you must relax and let your ideas flow out in a spontaneous manner. Make sure you give a patient hearing to each of the questions and answer them succinctly but at the same time analytical and sufficiently inclusive.

Some of the most indispensable questions can be:

  1. In one sentence, describe what your research topic is all about.
  2. What is original about your topic? How would you ensure its novelty?
  3. Explain your research design and the reasons behind choosing it.
  4. What challenges do you anticipate during the process of your PhD and how prepared are you to combat them?

Sometimes if you don’t understand a specific question, it is okay to seek clarification either directly or by paraphrasing the question in your own words and placing it in front of them as, “Is this what you mean?”