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How to Defend Your Research Paper Like a Professional

Even an expert on a subject can feel a little stressed entrenching the topic in front of peers, so feeling intimidated over the process of defending your research paper is perfectly natural. Managing your fears and being prepared will play equal roles in the outcome of your defense.

Be Confident In Your Research

Not knowing your topic inside-and-out will cause you to struggle and ultimately fail with your defense. You will need to know the subject from every angle, so you are fully prepared for any questions that may come your way. It often takes only one frazzled moment to throw off the rest of your oral presentation.

Prepare for Questions

If you are prepared for questions that may be asked, then your answers will flow smoothly and effortlessly. This will prove your knowledge on the subject, and strengthening your argument. Have friends and family read your notes or listen to your presentation, and write down questions. Chances are good they will be similar to those that are asked.

Strong Summary

Summarizing your chapters will help keep your audience focused. It is easy for a mind to drift, so providing summaries will ensure your panel of professionals will follow along, even if they lose focus for a brief moment. Visual aids, such as graphs and PowerPoint presentations can be very helpful. If you are going to use these, make sure you practice your presentation with them. A few stumbles could reflect on the quality of your research paper, even though the two are separate elements.


Reinforce your findings to conclude your defense. The finale of your presentation should be focused on proving the work that has been done. You may need to also recap on what has changed and remained unchanged, if applicable.


Before you get defensive or recite a practiced answer, make sure you truly understand the question being asked. Being a good listener is an important quality, because providing an inaccurate or off-topic answer will also weaken the validity of your paper. Do not try to make one up either. If you truly do not know the answer, reply that you don't have the information available to provide an accurate answer. It is highly likely that the professor knows the answer, and will therefore know that the one you are providing is incorrect. Also, there is no shame in asking for a question to be repeated, just to make sure you are confident in the approach to take with your response.