How to Make an Impressive Ph.D. Proposal Presentation to the University Panel

Ph.D.  Proposal Presentation


As part of Ph.D. selection process, all students are required to present their Ph.D. proposal for approval to the Ph.D. Scrutiny Committee at the University. The goal of the Ph.D. proposal presentation and approval process is to receive constructive feedback on the proposal and ensure that the  Ph.D. proposal is feasible and appropriate Ph.D. work. The panel also can look into the timeline of the proposed work to ensure its feasibility within the given time frame. Above all, it gives an opportunity to the research scholar to face the panel during Ph.D. proposal presentation at the early stage of his research.

Format of  Ph.D. Proposal Presentation

The time duration of the presentation will be around 15-20 minutes.  The presentation slides should be simple, well structured and effective. The presentation slides should include the following:

  • The Title of the work along with the candidate and supervisor details along with their affiliations.
  • Introduction to the proposal
  • A brief review of relevant literature
  • Motivation for the work
  • Statement of the research problem and goals
  • Research question, objectives of the proposal
  • Study design, methods for data collection, measures
  • Predicted outcomes if everything goes according to plan
  • Resources to complete the work
  • Societal impact
  •  A timetable of activities (Gantt Chart)
  • Potential  challenges

Work breakdown  of PhD work

               Gnatt chart representing the timetable of the activities planned

Maintaining the time limitation of the  Ph.D. proposal presentation is crucial otherwise the panel members may stop the presentation after the time limit and the candidate may lose his chance to clearly explain the idea.

After the  Ph.D. proposal presentation, the candidate has to face the panel for clearing their doubts regarding the proposal. For this session to run smoothly, prior to this presentation the candidate has to present his work to his guide and other fellow researchers of his choice several times to get acquainted with the concepts and queries.

During the discussion, the panel may ask the following questions to the candidate

  • What is the (social, scientific) significance of the proposal?
  • How will you approach your research question?
  • Is your proposal novel? How is it related/compared to prior works?
  • What difficulties do you expect to encounter during this proposal?
  • What would you like the impact of this proposal to be?
  • Demonstrate the kind of data you might see.
  • What research has already been done in this area? What deficiencies or gaps need addressing?
  • What other research in related areas has been done that could inform research on the proposed problem?
  • Why do you think your research is reliable?
  • Why do you think your research is valid?
  • How do you validate your outcomes?
  • In what way(s) does your research proposal contributes to knowledge?
  • What research methodology do you use?
  • Why did you use a particular research methodology?
  • Can you bridge any gap in your work?
  • What are the limitations of the proposal?
  • Which programming language will you use to write your program? (for computer science students)
  • What source of data will be employed for the research? whether you are data is benchmarked?
  • Have you taken permission to use the data set you are planning to use in your research?
  • What is the strongest point in your proposal?
  • In what way your research is environment friendly?
  • Suppose the proposed method does not work then what alternate solution you have planned for?
  • Who are the experts you are in contact with in the domain you are working?
  • What are the gaps you have identified in paper XYZ shown in your references?
  • How is your method better than the method proposed in paper PQR?

Points to Ponder During Ph.D. Proposal Presentation

During the  PhD proposal presentation, the following points should be given prime importance

  • Use simple colour combinations (contrasting colours) for your slides
  • Make  eye contact with your panel members
  • Do not have any other personal material on the pen drive or CD in which you carry your presentation
  • Do not write an entire paragraph in slides.
  • Add a story to your presentation. This can be a problem you have seen in a specific domain where you are planning to work and explain how your research proposal may solve that problem.
  • Do not start teaching the basic concepts. The panel members already know the basic concepts. Only concentrate on objectives and methodology.
  • Start your presentation by disclosing a surprising /shocking fact, about the work you are considering. This will create interest in the panel members
  • Highlight the papers presented/ workshops attended by you relating to your research.
  • Acknowledge the domain experts with whom you are interacting to collect the data sets ( This will indirectly show the quality of the data sets you are planning to use ).
  • Use pause in between your presentation. A pause is an effective way to grab attention.
  • Offer alternative solutions/backup plans for your research work.
  • Do not cross the time limit
  • Have Backup slides
  • If you do not know the answer to any of the questions say confidently that you have not come across that concept or you do not have a clear idea regarding the same. Do not bluff. This may leave a wrong impression on the panel.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. As a new PhD student, how can I improve my presentation skills for Ph.D. proposal presentation?  Ans:  To get yourself accepted by the Ph.D. panel you need to do lots of research regarding the domain of interest in which you plan to pursue your PhD. Read the base paper thoroughly so that you will be clear regarding the basic implementation details.  You need to do lots of rehearsals in front of your friends and family members, and infront of the mirror.
  2. How should Ph.D. students overcome the fear and anxiety of giving PhD proposal presentation?   Ans:  By improving their domain knowledge; interacting with domain experts; listening to podcasts and youtube videos related to the concerned domain;  and honing their communication skills,  Ph.D. students can overcome fear and anxiety while giving the presentation.
  3. What are the most common reasons for rejecting PhD proposal?                                                      Ans: The main reasons for rejecting the proposal are the limited literature survey; incomplete research gap analysis of the domain; non-coherent objectives; and the poor link between the aim and the objectives.
  4. What kind of profile is required to get into top Ph.D. programs?                                                        Ans: One or two good publications or conference presentations in the related domain of research will boost the chances of getting into top PhD programs.
  5. Is it very essential to have publications for getting accepted to the Ph.D. program?                        Ans: It is not essential to have publications for getting accepted to the PhD programs. With thorough knowledge of the domain of research and clearly defined aims and objectives, one can impress the research panel to consider the applicant for the PhD admission.
Vijay Rajpurohit
Author: Vijay Rajpurohit