What Is A Dissertation Defense

What Is A Dissertation Defense-72
For example, students should consult them if they need to alter their methodology or circulate drafts, and to gather advance input if possible."Get as much feedback as time permits in both written commentary and in-person meetings with committee members," says Sluzenski."You don't want to bore them by going through it again; you just want to refresh them." At the same time, says Newcombe, don't assume that your committee members have memorized your manuscript.

For example, students should consult them if they need to alter their methodology or circulate drafts, and to gather advance input if possible.

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In fact, staying calm can be one of your greatest assets during the defense, she adds.

"It's normal to be anxious and scared about your defense, but many people before you have passed, and you can too.

He encourages students to avoid coming off as too protective about their work during the meeting, but to also not be overly compliant about committee members' feedback.

"Students should be open to the perspectives of the committee members—who are committed to helping improve the piece of work—but they shouldn't be shy about sharing their expertise or defending a point of view if they feel their committee may be misinformed," he says.

"Repeat yourself patiently." For the question-and-answer portion that follows the presentation, students should be primed to answer questions about their methodology, to defend and explain their choice of analysis, and discuss how their study contributes to the literature, informs theory and where the research might go next.

Staging a mock defense with fellow graduate students is a great way to practice answering the types of questions you may be asked, adds Kenneth Pargament, Ph D, a professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University who leads a student-research group that regularly organizes practice defenses.PRACTICE AND PREPARE Be prepared to present a clear explanation of why you did the study, a brief overview of your methodology and results, and a discussion of the implications of your research, but don't recite the manuscript, advises Sluzenski."The assumption is that your committee has already read this paper in detail," she says.For example, are you expected to bring refreshments, or is that practice discouraged?Are you allowed to invite friends and family members, or is the defense open only to other graduate students or faculty? Should you hand a final copy of your dissertation to your committee a month in advance, or is two weeks the norm?What's more, students shouldn't feel discouraged if their committee asks for minor revisions to their manuscript after the defense, he says."It's not at all uncommon for committee members to suggest a different analysis, some changes in a table, or to rework the discussion section to clarify a certain point," he says."Because it's not every day that you have a roomful of scholars completely interested in what you have to say-it's something special you should enjoy." Sluzenski, other recent graduates and experienced dissertation chairs offer these tips on delivering a successful defense.LEARN THE RULES Because norms for a defense delivery differ, students need to determine their department's expectations by talking with their dissertation chair or fellow students, advises Alison Miller, Ph D, a clinical psychologist turned professional dissertation coach."Know where you will move, look, sit and take notes," says Pulver, who is finishing up his internship at the University of Kansas."The less you have to react to in the moment, the more focused you can be on the task at hand, which is to demonstrate you have strong knowledge of your project." DEVELOP THE RIGHT ATTITUDE Approaching the defense as a critically constructive experience is key, says Pargament.


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