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Doctoral Dissertation Defense

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How to defend a dissertation and succeed with graduation?
The Role of PhD Committee Members
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Apart from your sample of the dissertation, all members of your university committee members should have a copy of the thesis. Make sure you give them the copies before the date you defend your paper. 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. Think of all possible questions you can get asked and prepare convincing answers. To succeed in the exam you must prove the progress you have made during your study years. Describe the importance of your topic and make some statements. You must literally learn your dissertation by heart to be able to answer any question confident without showing doubts.

At the day of the dissertation defense, try to stay calm and focused. To show your respect, you need to look professionally. Wear comfortable and neat clothes which will create a good impression of you. 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. Finally, practice presenting the material and answering questions.

Meetings may begin with brief comments by the chair followed by your comments thanking advisors and committee members for their time and efforts on your behalf. Your presentation material should briefly cover the research question, literature review as it relates to your theory, methods and analysis, major findings and recommendations for future research.

During the defense, the faculty may take turns asking you questions and discussing among themselves points of interest or disagreement. Two questions to anticipate include identifying the weaknesses of your study and post-dissertation research plans.

When all questions have been asked and answered, you will be asked to leave the room while the committee deliberates. At this time faculty will be deciding by vote whether to pass you on your defense and dissertation. The desired outcome of this meeting is the chair's greeting you with the statement "Congratulations, Dr. The defense was successful and the committed has passed your dissertation.


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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.