Dissertation Defense Questions

Dissertation Defense Questions-32
(I drove my husband a bit crazy with this, as I spent the weeks before my defence constantly monologuing about my research. ) You should also ask your supervisor and other committee members to share with you, to the extent that they can, the areas of your work on which you should focus your preparation. There were almost no questions that I hadn’t anticipated in advance, and I pulled answers to some of the trickier ones almost verbatim from my mental bank of prepared responses.

(I drove my husband a bit crazy with this, as I spent the weeks before my defence constantly monologuing about my research. ) You should also ask your supervisor and other committee members to share with you, to the extent that they can, the areas of your work on which you should focus your preparation. There were almost no questions that I hadn’t anticipated in advance, and I pulled answers to some of the trickier ones almost verbatim from my mental bank of prepared responses.

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How is this work different from the work other people in your field are doing, and why?

What’s the most important contribution to knowledge this research makes? Know the Boundaries The defence is, first and foremost, about the work your committee has on the table in front of them.

Don’t presume that the examiners are “out to get you” or that they will ask trick or aggressive questions.

Even in the worst case scenario that they do use that tactic, then please if there is one piece of advice that I can give you then that would be to rise above it and whatever you do. You must at all times be polite, and courteous even if you want nothing more than to reach out and grab them by the scruff of their necks.

In the humanities, you might find a colleague who is willing to share their script (or slides, if they had them). Another way you can set the terms of engagement for your defence is to have a say in where it happens. They are people with specific interests and biases.

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Because I worked in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at my university, I knew what rooms were typically used for defences, and I knew about ones that were available but rarely used and SO COOL. Happily, there’s lots of evidence out there–in the form of their scholarship and public writing–that can give you insight into what those are.Read a bunch of stuff written by your external examiner, and refresh yourself on the work of your committee members.Identify the places where their ideas conflict with yours, what is of significant interest to them that intersects with (or didn’t get much time in) your work, where your work significantly overlaps. Given the size of our academic networks, there’s a good likelihood that you or your supervisor knows someone who knows your external well–talk to them! Fill the Bank This one is both the easiest and the hardest: find a useful list of common defence questions for your discipline, and prepare answers to them.I knew that my supervisor was a superstar who can theorize me under the table any day.But I decided to frame the defence in my mind as a rare and valuable opportunity to spend a few hours discussing my research with six brilliant people who were going to help me make it better.If an examiner is getting off on the power, then that’s their problem not yours.It might seem like an eternity to you right now, but this is only a very short period out of your life. Prepare yourself as best you can for the questions and dare I say, try and enjoy it!And learn what you can about your external as a person–is s/he prickly or friendly? Use what you’ve learned about your defence committee, and the framework you prepared in developing your opening presentation, to guide your answers. And then review those answers a bunch before the defence.Make your labmate/partner/cat listen to you deliver those answers out loud.It’s not the same as a qualifying exam, or even as a proposal defence. As a humanities Ph D, the best advice I got was to think of the defence as a meeting with a book publisher who you might want to publish your academic monograph, and who wants to know more about the project. your committee) is going to ask you to explain and expand on your choices (that is, defend them) so that they can understand this project and its contribution to knowledge in your field.Why did you make the methodological and theoretical choices you did?

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