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Defending Your Dissertation

How to defend a dissertation and succeed with graduation?

❶Defense in the context of the dissertating process refers to the presenting, explaining and defending of your ideas.

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I wish you the best of luck. Thank you very much for all of your advices! This was a great read! Thank you very much for the post. I am close to my defense. My advisor and most of my committee is very supportive of my work. However one member is creating nuisance over a published peer-reviewed journal part of my dissertation and essentially making comments in academically unprofessional tone? I need him to sign my dissertation. If you or someone can offer some thoughts on this …. Congrats on beeing so close!

My advise is to not bore the h.. My dissertation defence is on 15 December. Just curious if actually you were this calm before your defence took place. Their faces were showing satisfaction, follow up with great interest. This slideshow requires JavaScript. What does chess have to do with operations strategy? I love your post and it helped me a lot to be more self-confident during MY day: Congratulations on earning your degree: Glad you could find some help in the post. Good luck on the 13th!!

Enjoy the day and hope you are successful: You are helping me to develop a sense of fun! How much of statistics are you expected to demonstrate knowledge in a dissertation defense.? This post was written after my defense…: Follow Follow better operations Get every new post delivered to your Inbox Join other followers: I actually went and got a few talks on DVD the good ones that I remembered.

If their research is on a similar topic as your own, this would be more ideal-but take what you can get. When you watch the talk, ask yourself what makes it good or bad? Were they enthusiastic and sincere? Did they keep the energy throughout the talk?

Were there some rough areas of the talk? When nerves are running high, talks may not go as expected. You can battle this nervousness by showing up well-prepared. If you are, the thesis defense talk is just a formality.

If you cannot obtain any thesis defense talks on video, make sure that you go to actual public thesis defense talks. At least go to one so that you have a good idea of how to TIE the whole story together and give your audience the big picture. Keep in mind that you are giving a talk to a general audience.

This means that use of jargon and highly technical terms will only put your audience to sleep. Make sure it is clear and understandable. Simplify it the best that you can and put it in the larger context of your research field. Use cartoons or model slides if necessary to give your audience the general, overall picture. Have others that are familiar with your work drill you with questions.

It also builds your confidence. And the questions that your labmates or friends ask you may just be the same question you will get asked on your defense day. You may be sick of reading your entire thesis over and over by now, but you need to keep everything fresh in your mind.

I actually read over my entire thesis multiple times during my final two weeks and came up with my own list of questions that I thought my committee would ask me. In addition, I also came up with a list of questions that I had of my own questions that I was unsure of or that I thought were a weakness of mine.

If you cannot come up with a list of good questions, then you are not trying hard enough. And it was a confidence booster in disguise. Completing your thesis is a huge milestone. Those last two weeks until defense day can be stressful. Keep your guard up until your actual defense day. This is key to giving a good talk. You need to go in with the mindset that you will kill your presentation and give a long lasting impression to your audience.

I have actually heard that some people who gave great thesis defense talks were offered a position shortly after i. You are going to want to do all those little tasks that you have been putting off for so long because you have spent X amount of months writing your thesis in solitude and you had no time to do them.

Your list could be very long. I can tell you that one of the things on my list was to keep publishing blog articles and keep my blog running. I simply did not have enough time. Prioritize and focus on your defense talk and nothing else. If you are looking for jobs during this time period, I will be writing about this in Part 3 of this series.

This might be the most difficult thing for anyone. I struggled with this the most while writing my thesis.

Skipping meals, late nights, overloading your system with caffeine just to stay awake. You have to fight it the best that you can. A month before my defense talk, I hit the gym 3x a week for the first time in months. Everyone handles the anxiety of their defense talk differently. I am someone who thinks about it constantly. So it becomes hard to focus on other things, like taking care of yourself.

Once your thesis is turned in to your committee members, during those final two weeks- sleep and a proper diet are KEY. By taking care of yourself, you ensure that you have the highest probability for giving a great thesis defense talk and showing your committee members that you are confident about your project. You know your topic better than anyone. Because of this, you have no reason to be stressed out. When your committee pushes you and asks you questions, they again will push you to your limits.

Remember that they are simply trying to test your knowledge and humble you. Therefore, when you are answering questions, keep your cool and relax. Answer the questions the best that you can and you should have no problem passing. And in all honesty, the prelim or qualifying exam was much harder than the actual defense….

Although I did have an after-party, I did not go to great efforts to plan it like a wedding party. As I said in 5, prioritize and focus on your thesis defense talk and nothing else. Once you have passed, then you can change your focus. The feeling is indescribable see A good thesis talk also has a good introduction before going on to the next idea or slide.

It should flow in a logical manner and be smooth. Be formal in how you word things i. To give a good introduction, it might be wise to use slides that ask a question in between.

Why are you doing this experiment? Many scientists forget that although they are an expert on their topic, what seems easy and understandable to them-does not apply to others outside of their field.

Before you go to your next data slides introduce the idea based on this data I wanted to ask this question. Then tell them WHY you performed this particular experiment which is basically in the form of a question.

Once your audience understands why, go on to the next slide and give them your interpretation. This one is pretty self explanatory. I will say that when it is all said and done, it feels like a huge burden has been lifted off your shoulders. It is emotional and you finally feel that all that hard work and time that you put in over the years-was all worth it in the end. Good luck to all those who are preparing for their defense talk in the future!

Think about what it will be like to get up in front of a large audience and show everyone how you moved a field forward. This is YOUR moment to show everyone you are an expert in your field. The more you keep this mentality, the better your talk will be. Keep your cool and relax 7 and everything will be fine.

One of my committee members actually read my entire thesis, so you never know. A few brief comments about all three follow and a very helpful resource provided a thorough discussion of all three components.

Attend the defenses of some of your departmental colleagues or attend defenses in other departments. It is very important to adhere to graduate school rules and deadlines covering the scheduling of a defense.

Begin very early to schedule and coordinate the date, time and place for the defense. Committee members and chairs have very busy schedules. Have your manuscript reviewed before the defense to be sure it is consistent with formatting requirements. You want to present a polished document for the faculty to work with in preparation for the defense.

Maximize your opportunity in the pre-defense meeting to raise any issues or concerns. Or ask your chairs what questions and issues might be raised during the defense. Prepare to address them. Organize you material for presentation. Create flawless presentation of the material you will be covering on the defense.


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A doctoral dissertation defense is a public presentation that should be practiced before the exam. Ask some people to listen to your speech and correct you if necessary. This way you will decrease the level of stress and will feel more confident when standing in front of your university professors.

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The defense must be open to the academic community of the University and be publicly announced one week prior to its occurrence. Committee Composition. The dissertation committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College on the recommendation of the student's department or program.

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Hints for PhD Defenses. At Columbia, PhD defenses are generally not public, although CS usually allows a student audience. Defenses consist of four parts: first, the candidate introduces themselves, then presents a summary of their work, interrupted and followed by questions from the committee. If you cannot obtain any thesis defense talks on video, make sure that you go to actual public thesis defense talks. At least go to one so that you have a good idea of how to TIE the whole story together .

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Go defend your PhD dissertation If there’s one advice that trumps all the others, it has to be this one: Smile, have fun, enjoy YOUR day! I wish you the best of luck. The dissertation defense is a significant milestone signaling closure on your graduate student career. The dissertation defense can be divided into three distinct components (Foss and Waters): the preparation, the defense, and follow-up.