Shaun Luttin, NrD

Answer the question and shut-up

When PhD students do their thesis defense, experts fly in to grill the student. Good thesis advisors train students to answer each question and then shut-up. Students almost always feel a temptation to elaborate.

Examiner: Why did you use that particular statistical test?

Student: We used regression because our data met its requirements for establishing cause-and-effect.

Examiners: Silence.

Student: We designed our data collection to adhere to parametric test requirements. Within the parametric set of tests, we also looked at comparison tests and correlation tests. We found a few t-test approaches that we could have used with fewer predictors…

The follow-up answer gives examiners opportunities to ask follow up questions.

So, answer the question and shut-up.

Adapted from personal communication with Dr. Randy Paterson.