Defending your doctoral dissertation

By virtue of being on this page, it is safe to assume that after weeks, probably months or years of toiling, you have finished researching and writing your doctoral dissertation. It is also safe to assume that there is a possibility that you hired a professional writing service such as Unemployed Professors to do the heavy work for you.

Either way, congratulations. You made it to this point. Now there remains the thorny issue of going before your doctoral committee and defending your dissertation.

Writing the dissertation may seem like a real struggle, and in any case, it really is. However, the real challenge is standing before the panel of mean-looking academics and defend the work that you put your effort into for the better part of your adult life. Your academic future lies in their hands and it is normal to be anxious. There is no need to be worried, though. Here are some tips that will help you get that doctorate diploma without much hassle.

  • Read and internalize your material

After a long period of research and studies in order to complete your paper, there is a high chance that you are not all that familiar with the material in the dissertation even if you wrote the entire thing from scratch.

The committee members will have read your dissertation and you too will have to refresh your knowledge on it.

Reread it, make notes, if you find mistakes or discrepancies in the paper, be sure to be questioned about them during your defending session. Be ready for these and correct or defend them accordingly. Write summary notes on the thing if it will help you remember better.

Moreover, a good understanding of the content that you are going to defend will give you more confidence as you stand in front of the doctoral panel.

  • Prepare a short overview of the dissertation

Your dissertation is most likely several toilet paper rolls long. The dissertation committee will have read through it or at least gone through most of it. They do not need another verbal presentation on it. Discuss only the main points of the dissertation. Spend more time on the results of the dissertation and the implications they have on the field.

  • Prepare abundantly

If you are not unsure of what to do during your dissertation, you can attend a session where a colleague of yours is defending theirs. This will give you a feel of what to expect when your time comes. It will also allow you to learn from the mistakes that they might make during the presentation.

You should spend time to prepare your visual aids carefully. The slides should follow the same order as the dissertation – introduction, body and conclusion. Introduce them to the reasons for the research, the methods used, the results and then conclude with what the results mean.

  • Rehearse

It is really important that you rehearse before facing the committee. You can do a solo rehearsal or you can ask a colleague or mentor to act as a member of the committee and go through the whole routine of your presentation. It is true that that may not give you the real experience of defending the dissertation in front of your committee but it will familiarize you with your material and help correct some errors that may be in your visual aids.

  • Relax, you got this

After thorough preparation, all that remains is to relax and calm down. There is no need for all your effort to go to waste because you were tense or anxious. Calm down, take a deep breath and remember, you got this.

About the author

Sean Toby