Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Dissertation defense advice, please...

So, day after tomorrow I defend.

The standard way it works for my department is for the candidate to give about a 10 minute or so talk about the dissertation. At some point, the committee will interrupt with questions.

Do you have any advice?

26 comments:

Andrew Bailey said...

I've watched a half-dozen defenses or so at Notre Dame. One thing I've noticed the stronger ones have in common is this: the candidate took her time before answering questions. Nothing wrong with a 10-second pause if that's what it takes to give a thoughtful answer in full paragraphs and without umming...

I've also noticed that successful candidates felt free to ask questions of their questioners, getting clear on what was being asked of them before attempting a reply.

Bardiac said...

Have fun!

You wouldn't be there if your director didn't think you were totally ready, so think of it as a discussion of your work with four or five interested people.

Anastasia said...

I was glad I had a pad of paper and pen in front of me to jot down the parts of their (very long) questions as they were asking. That allowed me to take a second before responding to repeat the points back to them, which gave me time to think and plan and helped me formulate a more cohesive answer.

I agree, too, that you should feel free to ask questions of their questions. I would add that it's alright to admit if you don't have an answer to some things all worked out. I was able to identify a couple of issues and say I will need to think more about A and B to move forward. That settled a couple of issues for me.

Arbitrista said...

By biggest piece of advice is just to chill out. YOU are the expert on this subject. For right now there is no one on earth who understands your topic better than you do, so don't be intimidated by your committee. If they ask you a hard question, it's more likely that they don't understand something than you don't. Don't be afraid to ask them to clarify, to question their assumptions, or (as a last resort) to admit that some element might need to built on LATER - in subsequent research. Good luck!

Kris Peleg said...

a good night's sleep? that helped me.

What Now? said...

Best of luck -- I'm sure you'll be great!

tomorrow said...

I loaded the room with my friends and family (our defenses were public, so I invited EVERYBODY). (Also, I had a dysfunctional committee, so I decided to balance the karma of the room in my favor.)

Good luck!

Psycgirl said...

Good Luck! My advice is to get a good night of sleep - do not spend much time prepping that day, relax, and take a bottle of water :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Good luck! I hope it's a breeze!

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