How to Survive Your PhD Thesis Defense

Writing and finishing your thesis is one thing, but defending it is another – as in another major battle. As you know, it is not only about finishing the task of writing and editing because there is more to that.

What to Expect

  • You will do a 45-minute public talk about and on your research
  • Question and answers
  • Ask for a 10-minute break

Other Elements

  • The closed session
  • You are dismissed from the room while the committee is deliberating whether you passed or not.
  • Your advisor will invite you in and will say, “Congratulations, Dr._____”
  • Your advisor will be able to summarize the discussion, and then they will convey additional request from the committee.

Go and celebrate! But wait, what are the Dos and Don’ts to remember?

  1. Don’t give a general resigned declaration that this ‘happens in each study, but take some time in considering before replying.
  2. Do not blame the advisor for the weakness of your thesis, but remember to breathe and speak reasonably and slowly.
  3. Don’t blame your data, but take criticism professionally.
  4. Do not say that the question was beyond the scope of the study without offering cogent argument to support your statement.
  5. Don’t dismiss what was identified as a weakness or unimportant.
  6. Don’t take offence.
  7. Don’t get angry.

Planning the Talk

  1. Know the audience.
  2. Justify yourself.
  3. Tell a story.
  4. Sweat the small stuff.
  5. Present in bite-sized slides.

Giving the Presentation

  1. Practice and practice
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  3. Try out the room and equipment.
  4. Be comfortable with your knowledge.
  5. Be humble.

Useful PhD Defense Tips

  • Ask for clarification for ambiguous questions.
  • Take time to think before answering.
  • Be prepared to enter a dialogue with examiners.
  • Be prepared discussing the research.
  • Be ready to admit if you don’t know the answer to the question.
  • Be prepared to express your opinion.
  • Don’t speak too loud or too quietly.
  • Hold your head high and be philosophical.

how to survive your phd thesis defense

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There you have the expert tips about PhD thesis defense! Take some time to remember these things and going over these when reviewing your techniques for a PhD defense.

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