Successfully defend dissertation


Prepare scientifically

It's a good idea to observe more, not less, of the formalities than your examiners require. If the event calls for business casual, wear a business suit. With all you have to think about--and with all those experts questioning you--it's easy to forget that you are the foremost expert.

Defend dissertation – Buchanan Holley

After all, your research has been the focus of your time and attention for several years. So, take heart; you really do know your stuff. It would be a mistake, however, to underestimate the examiners' knowledge of your subject.

Moreover, in the formal setting of a thesis defense, you have one truly big disadvantage: Your examiners can prepare questions beforehand, but you have to reply to them on the spot. Some examiners are very good at finding awkward or controversial issues, and they will certainly question you about those aspects of your work.

As you stand in the spotlight, you may even realize, to your discomfort, that it's been quite some time since you thought about those thorny issues. So in the week or two before your thesis defense, read your thesis all the way through with a critical eye and a highlighter in hand to refresh your memory about experimental details, protocols, results, and your conclusions. Years have passed since you did some of that work, so it's important to remind yourself of the fine points. As you read, put yourself in the role of an examiner.


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What would you ask the author of this thesis? Where are the trouble spots, the unresolved issues, the shaky conclusions? If you can predict some of the questions and prepare the answers, you will be in much better shape during the defense itself. Even if you don't get those questions, the exercise will give you confidence and reacquaint you with the fundamentals. If you've made good use of previous opportunities, this won't be the first time you've spoken in front of a group and been questioned about your work.

Each time you give a presentation, even a poster presentation, at a conference or department meeting, you're preparing for your ultimate oral exam.

Know Your Material

Because a thesis defense is a formal ceremony as well as an examination, you will have to play the highly scripted part expected of you. It's not sufficient to mumble a reply to a question while staring at the floor. Assuredly, your examiners will not be pleased if you reply to their questions with "Yes, No idea. Listen to the question carefully.

Too often, Ph. So listen attentively the whole time the examiner is speaking. To help you maintain your concentration, you might want to take simple notes or jot down key words to remind you what was said. Just don't let the note-taking distract you from careful listening.

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Your written dissertation is long, maybe — pages. The members of your committee have already read it, so there is no need to go over every detail.

Stick to the main points, discuss the most important results. If the committee members want to hear more details, they will ask. Time you spend preparing visual aids will be amply rewarded in the time saved during the oral defense. The body describes the plan of attack and the results.

Shaheen Syed successfully defended his PhD dissertation

Then follows a brief conclusion. Defending the dissertation may seem old hat. Perhaps you have already given the essence of the defense in group or department seminars. Go through the graphs a few times anyway, speaking the words you will be saying. Even if you know what you want to say, the words might not come easily unless you rehearse. Fish and Fisheries. International Journal of Semantic Computing , , Narrow lenses for capturing the complexity of fisheries: A topic analysis of fisheries science from to Fish and Fisheries , , Selecting Priors for Latent Dirichlet Allocation.

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