7 Steps to Defend Your Dissertation

Defending your dissertation can be nerve-wracking, especially for inexperienced students. However, it can also turn out to be one of the most satisfactory moments in your academic pursuit if you go in well prepared. For the first-timers, this piece will take you through some easy steps to defend your dissertation.

1. Contextualize it

Writing a dissertation and defending it is something no student can escape unless you want to obtain low grades. But is the process as scary as they put it? Are you going to be queried on every information added to your project? As a student, consider the defense process as a meeting with a publisher seeking to publish your work but then wants more information or clarifications. During the defense, you face a committee whose main objective is to enquire about your project and its relevance to your field of study. You may also have to explain some of your choices, including the methodology and theoretical framework.

2. Know the Boundaries

During the defense, you would only be subjected to questions related to your submitted work. As stated above, you may have to explain your choices leading to the conclusion or findings. Therefore, even if questions should come outside your project, it would be minimal. Such questions aim to extract more information on how your research contributes and expands existing ones. Therefore, stay within your dissertation and master it to avoid surprises. You can also learn a little about related works and how they link to yours.

3. Set the tone

In most fields, students are required to make an opening presentation at defense. If you fall in that category, then be prepared to set the tone for the discussion. The points you highlight during the presentation might be the main focus of the discussion. Therefore, grab this opportunity and make the best of it. Frame your presentation in a way that suits you. Although your examiners have already set questions for you, your presentation can sway them in your favor. They may be forced to frame new questions if you deliver a power presentation. Your focus should be on the viability of your research before coming down to the procedures.

4. Know the committee members

Knowing the composition of the defense panel serves various purposes. It helps you to know their personality and understand their temperament. You can also scrutinize research works they have published to know their ideologies, biases, and interest. Getting to know this helps you to identify areas where your ideologies depart from each panel member. That aside, you also get to know the places you share the same idea. This helps you to prepare very well to meet their expectations.

5. Have a break

Undoubtedly, you need to be well prepared before going in for your defense. You should study your dissertation by heart, and being cognizant of all the main points that can attract examiners’ attention is critical. Also, anticipating possible questions from the panel and preparing for them is required. That notwithstanding, you should still have some break. Don’t sacrifice your sleep or other daily routines just because you have a dissertation to defend. Having some good sleep and rest to refresh your mind for the day.

6. What to wear

How you present yourself to the defense committee is critical. Your dressing alone could determine how confident you are. What you wear or not wear can speak volumes as to your readiness for the job market. At this point, you need to dress like a professional going for a job interview and not as a student. You should be comfortable in your outfit and also look smart.

7. Be in the right mind frame

Being in the right frame of mind and the best of mood is critical when facing your dissertation defense committee. You need to keep your tolerance level high, be well-composed and calm. You can respectfully point out dissatisfactory comments. Some committee members may be irritating, hard, snobbish, or may try hard to make nonsense of your project, not because that’s how they are, but want to check your temperament. Whatever happens, your main business is to answer questions, keep hold of yourself, and don’t be distracted.

Why PhD Candidates Fail Their Program

Out of the total number of students who pursue a Ph.D. program in the UK, 19.5% fail. Out of that, about 16.2% drop from the program, while 3.3% of them fail their viva. This puts students who successfully earn a doctorate at 80.5%. Consequently, most doctoral students are more worried about the tendency of failing out the Ph.D.

Failing a Ph.D. could be every candidates’ worst academic nightmare. Imagine all the time used in learning, research, and lab work going to waste. In this piece, we take you through how you can fail your Ph.D. and ways to avoid that.

How Candidates Fail a PhD

There are two basic ways a Ph.D. candidate can fail a Ph.D. program: i.e., failing the oral defence (viva) and non-completion of the program.

Non-completion

This is when a student decides to quit the Ph.D. program before sitting for the viva examination. Viva is conducted at the final year of the program, i.e., the 3rd or 4th year, which is a disincentive for many students, hence, the dropout. This accounts for most of the numbers of non-completion of Ph.D. some students also leave the program early because:

  • Circumstances beyond control

Life is full of uncertainties, and a decision made today could be overturned by a happening tomorrow. No student would want to leave a program he/she has spent much on in the middle of nowhere. However, circumstances beyond control, including ill health, lack of funds, family issues, can shatter the dream. In some cases, the university may come to the student’s aid, especially for an extraordinary student.

Sometimes, a university may also decide to cut-short the program for nonperforming students. This is when a supervisor believes a student is making progress on their projects.

  • Decision

At a point in time, a student may feel incapable of undertaking a Ph.D. This may be due to the high-stress nature of the program, lack of initial assessment of it, or having an alternative.

Failing the Viva

Aside from a student deciding to quit, presenting a sub-standard dissertation, or failing a viva fail you.

At this level, universities expect students to know the nitty-gritty of writing a top-class dissertation. Therefore, anything below the university’s standard may end you being unqualified to graduate. A thesis may be regarded below average if it is plagiarised, insufficient data, and inconclusive findings. Your examiner may request a rework before conducting a viva examination for you if you are lucky enough. However, if you have already exceeded the allowable deadline without any valid reasons, then you may miss out on the viva exams, and that may account for your failure.

Another possible scenario is when you sit for the viva and fail. This is highly uncommon, but a contributing factor may be when your dissertation is not up to standard and may be very difficult to revise in the shortest possible time.

Ph.D. Failure Rate in the UK & EU

A data by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (now UK Research and Innovation) for 2010-11 show that out of the total number of students who enrol for Ph.D. in the UK or EU, 72.9% of them complete their program within seven years. For the remaining numbers, 80.5% of them complete within 25 years. This puts students who successfully complete their program at four out of five. Most of the students who fail are those who voluntarily exit the program.

Degree Types: What You Can Do with Them?

If you are seeking admission into a university to go study something you are passionate about, you should know what you are getting out of such a degree. Whether you are going for an Associate degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or Doctoral degree, you should know that they all require efforts and skills that are not the same. In this article, we will be highlighting these degree types and how they suit your career and academic goals.

You need to know if acquiring the highest grade level in college will take you closer to your desired job position. We will inform you how long it will take you to complete a specific level of grade so you can prepare adequately. The value of your college degree is directly related to what it offers you and can do for you. Then, you have to determine which degree or certificate helps you achieve your personal, educational, and career objectives.

Types of College Degrees

There are four types of degrees – Associate degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and Doctoral degrees. With the two-year associate program, you can enter a bachelor program and then continue until you get your doctoral diploma.

Types of Undergraduate Degrees Available in Courses

The types of undergraduate degrees are associate and bachelor degrees. Obtaining this grade will require two to four years of study from you. Any student can enroll for an associate degree, but many bachelor programs may require students to have completed a 2-year course. Most associate programs are set up to be a precursor to four-year bachelor courses. After completing these associate courses, graduates may then apply for jobs or enroll for a bachelor’s.

Types of Associate Degrees Available in Courses

Earning an associate grade takes two years of full-time study, and when compared to other grade levels, it is the shortest program that gives graduates access to entry-level job positions. Associate courses also cost lesser money than Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral courses. Don’t think that an entry-level position won’t fetch you a good salary.

You can get into the positions below with an associate grade;

  • Air traffic controller
  • Nurse
  • Computer Network Support Specialist
  • Dental Hygienist

These are technical area and medical job positions that are in high demand in every city and country. With an associate grade, you will be able to secure many job opportunities and make a living.

Types of Bachelor Degrees Available in Courses

Earning a Bachelor’s grade requires between four and five years, depending on the program and the institution. While applying, you will be asked to choose your primary area of study – fine arts, science, and applied sciences. A bachelor’s degree is what you need to get into various management positions. If you wish to work in areas like accounting, justice, and psychology, you need a bachelor’s grade.

Types of Professional Degrees and Programs

Professional grades are mostly in the law and medical field as they require you to have precise skills, in-depth knowledge, years of practice, and a well-detailed thesis that bothers many students. Below are some of the master and doctoral degrees available in virtually every school;

  • Doctor of Pharmacy
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery
  • Juris Doctorate
  • Medical Doctor

What does a Doctoral Grade Entail?

Earning a doctoral grade takes years and up to 8 years of intense studying if you are in the law or medical field. After earning this grade, you are expected to become an expert in business or research. You will also have to write a dissertation proposal and a dissertation or order it from custom dissertation writing services online to save lots of time. You need a master’s grade to enter a doctoral course.

Writing an Introduction of a Master’s Thesis

How do you go about the introduction section of a master’s thesis? Is it the same as any other thesis, or it has some additional or special information? What information should a student include in this section of a dissertation? All your troubling questions about what a master’s thesis entails would be answered in this piece.

The first chapter of a thesis is named “Introduction” because it introduces readers to the research topic and gives some background. However, you can decide to use another name for it depending on your field of studies. Also, there is no “one-way” format of writing an introduction, and it may differ depending on your field. That notwithstanding, there is a general guideline you can follow or modify if necessary to shape your introduction.

Structuring a Thesis Introduction

One of the biggest challenges many thesis writers face when writing an introduction is to put their work into context before stipulating the statement of the problem. Such a situation can inevitably make the section bulky. The best practice to make it concise yet very informative. It is possible to introduce your topic economically but with all the necessary information required in that section.

There are several ways to achieve this feat, including going straight to the point. Never try to keep your readers in suspense when writing a thesis introduction. It is always best to elaborate your statement of the problem without any lengthy background and later contextualize it. As soon as a reader goes through your introduction, he or she should be able to point out the problem you seek to address. So, in the first few paragraphs, briefly state the broad question and then narrow it down.

How your introduction should look

Introduction to the introduction: This may sound a little weird, but it’s good to introduce the opening of your thesis in a manner that, in just a few paragraphs, the reader gets to know what your thesis is about. It is a way to grab your readers’ attention and wet appetite to want to learn more. This section can start with a thought-provoking question, which you can briefly answer in subsequent paragraphs.

Context

Now that you’ve grabbed your readers’ attention, briefly provide a full context of your problem, bearing in mind the information provided in the opening paragraph. How deep or shallow your put your context would depend on the content of the literature review. In a previous article, I stated why the introduction should be one of the chapters written after completing your project.

State your problem

Now that you’ve put your study into context, the next step is to state the problem you are researching and its relevance to your field of study. This short paragraph should reaffirm what with the previous sections. At this point, the reader should know the gap at earlier research, which you seek to address or bridge with your study.

State your response

In what manner are you trying to address the problem identified? What measure would you employ in the research to provide accurate findings?

Procedures

This paragraph should briefly tell the reader the procedure for the research. What are methods you would use to obtain data? What methodology is appropriate to achieve the intended objectives? The reader should be evident in mind the processes used.

Conclusion

I hope this structure helps as you try to write the introductory chapter of your master’s thesis. Don’t hesitate to adjust to suit your field as and when it is needed. We hope this gives a general overview of what is expected of you and can help you develop an attention-grabbing introduction.

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