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How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

Thesis defence

What is a thesis defense?

How long is a thesis defense, what happens at a thesis defense, your presentation, questions from the committee, 6 tips to help you prepare for your thesis defense, 1. anticipate questions and prepare for them, 2. dress for success, 3. ask for help, as needed, 4. have a backup plan, 5. prepare for the possibility that you might not know an answer, 6. de-stress before, during, and after, frequently asked questions about preparing an excellent thesis defense, related articles.

If you're about to complete, or have ever completed a graduate degree, you have most likely come across the term "thesis defense." In many countries, to finish a graduate degree, you have to write a thesis .

A thesis is a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

Once you hand in your thesis, you will be assigned a date to defend your work. Your thesis defense meeting usually consists of you and a committee of two or more professors working in your program. It may also include other people, like professionals from other colleges or those who are working in your field.

During your thesis defense, you will be asked questions about your work. The main purpose of your thesis defense is for the committee to make sure that you actually understand your field and focus area.

The questions are usually open-ended and require the student to think critically about their work. By the time of your thesis defense, your paper has already been evaluated. The questions asked are not designed so that you actually have to aggressively "defend" your work; often, your thesis defense is more of a formality required so that you can get your degree.

  • Check with your department about requirements and timing.
  • Re-read your thesis.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare for them.
  • Create a back-up plan to deal with technology hiccups.
  • Plan de-stressing activities both before, and after, your defense.

How long your oral thesis defense is depends largely on the institution and requirements of your degree. It is best to consult your department or institution about this. In general, a thesis defense may take only 20 minutes, but it may also take two hours or more. The length also depends on how much time is allocated to the presentation and questioning part.

Tip: Check with your department or institution as soon as possible to determine the approved length for a thesis defense.

First of all, be aware that a thesis defense varies from country to country. This is just a general overview, but a thesis defense can take many different formats. Some are closed, others are public defenses. Some take place with two committee members, some with more examiners.

The same goes for the length of your thesis defense, as mentioned above. The most important first step for you is to clarify with your department what the structure of your thesis defense will look like. In general, your thesis defense will include:

  • your presentation of around 20-30 minutes
  • questions from the committee
  • questions from the audience (if the defense is public and the department allows it)

You might have to give a presentation, often with Powerpoint, Google slides, or Keynote slides. Make sure to prepare an appropriate amount of slides. A general rule is to use about 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation.

But that also depends on your specific topic and the way you present. The good news is that there will be plenty of time ahead of your thesis defense to prepare your slides and practice your presentation alone and in front of friends or family.

Tip: Practice delivering your thesis presentation in front of family, friends, or colleagues.

You can prepare your slides by using information from your thesis' first chapter (the overview of your thesis) as a framework or outline. Substantive information in your thesis should correspond with your slides.

Make sure your slides are of good quality— both in terms of the integrity of the information and the appearance. If you need more help with how to prepare your presentation slides, both the ASQ Higher Education Brief and James Hayton have good guidelines on the topic.

The committee will ask questions about your work after you finish your presentation. The questions will most likely be about the core content of your thesis, such as what you learned from the study you conducted. They may also ask you to summarize certain findings and to discuss how your work will contribute to the existing body of knowledge.

Tip: Read your entire thesis in preparation of the questions, so you have a refreshed perspective on your work.

While you are preparing, you can create a list of possible questions and try to answer them. You can foresee many of the questions you will get by simply spending some time rereading your thesis.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense:

You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions. In addition, since you will know who will be on the committee, look at the academic expertise of the committee members. In what areas would they most likely be focused?

If possible, sit at other thesis defenses with these committee members to get a feel for how they ask and what they ask. As a graduate student, you should generally be adept at anticipating test questions, so use this advantage to gather as much information as possible before your thesis defense meeting.

Your thesis defense is a formal event, often the entire department or university is invited to participate. It signals a critical rite of passage for graduate students and faculty who have supported them throughout a long and challenging process.

While most universities don't have specific rules on how to dress for that event, do regard it with dignity and respect. This one might be a no-brainer, but know that you should dress as if you were on a job interview or delivering a paper at a conference.

It might help you deal with your stress before your thesis defense to entrust someone with the smaller but important responsibilities of your defense well ahead of schedule. This trusted person could be responsible for:

  • preparing the room of the day of defense
  • setting up equipment for the presentation
  • preparing and distributing handouts

Technology is unpredictable. Life is too. There are no guarantees that your Powerpoint presentation will work at all or look the way it is supposed to on the big screen. We've all been there. Make sure to have a plan B for these situations. Handouts can help when technology fails, and an additional clean shirt can save the day if you have a spill.

One of the scariest aspects of the defense is the possibility of being asked a question you can't answer. While you can prepare for some questions, you can never know exactly what the committee will ask.

There will always be gaps in your knowledge. But your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. You are not expected to know everything.

James Hayton writes on his blog that examiners will sometimes even ask questions they don't know the answer to, out of curiosity, or because they want to see how you think. While it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, but you would need to do [...] in order to find out.” This shows that you have the ability to think as an academic.

You will be nervous. But your examiners will expect you to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions, for example. Dora Farkas at notes that it’s a myth that thesis committees are out to get you.

Two common symptoms of being nervous are talking really fast and nervous laughs. Try to slow yourself down and take a deep breath. Remember what feels like hours to you are just a few seconds in real life.

  • Try meditational breathing right before your defense.
  • Get plenty of exercise and sleep in the weeks prior to your defense.
  • Have your clothes or other items you need ready to go the night before.
  • During your defense, allow yourself to process each question before answering.
  • Go to dinner with friends and family, or to a fun activity like mini-golf, after your defense.

Allow yourself to process each question, respond to it, and stop talking once you have responded. While a smile can often help dissolve a difficult situation, remember that nervous laughs can be irritating for your audience.

We all make mistakes and your thesis defense will not be perfect. However, careful preparation, mindfulness, and confidence can help you feel less stressful both before, and during, your defense.

Finally, consider planning something fun that you can look forward to after your defense.

It is completely normal to be nervous. Being well prepared can help minimize your stress, but do know that your examiners have seen this many times before and are willing to help, by repeating questions for example if needed. Slow yourself down, and take a deep breath.

Your thesis defense is not about being perfect and knowing everything, it's about how you deal with challenging situations. James Hayton writes on his blog that it is ok sometimes to just say "I don't know", but he advises to try something like "I don't know, but I would think [...] because of x and y, you would need to do [...] in order to find out".

Your Powerpoint presentation can get stuck or not look the way it is supposed to do on the big screen. It can happen and your supervisors know it. In general, handouts can always save the day when technology fails.

  • Dress for success.
  • Ask for help setting up.
  • Have a backup plan (in case technology fails you).
  • Deal with your nerves.

how do you fail a thesis defense

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How to Avoid Failing Your Ph.D. Dissertation

By  Daniel Sokol

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how do you fail a thesis defense

I am a barrister in London who specializes in helping doctoral students who have failed their Ph.D.s. Few people will have had the dubious privilege of seeing as many unsuccessful Ph.D. dissertations and reading as many scathing reports by examination committees. Here are common reasons why students who submit their Ph.D.s fail, with advice on how to avoid such pitfalls. The lessons apply to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Lack of critical reflection. Probably the most common reason for failing a Ph.D. dissertation is a lack of critical analysis. A typical observation of the examination committee is, “The thesis is generally descriptive and a more analytical approach is required.”

For doctoral work, students must engage critically with the subject matter, not just set out what other scholars have said or done. If not, the thesis will not be original. It will not add anything of substance to the field and will fail.

Doctoral students should adopt a reflexive approach to their work. Why have I chosen this methodology? What are the flaws or limitations of this or that author’s argument? Can I make interesting comparisons between this and something else? Those who struggle with this aspect should ask their supervisors for advice on how to inject some analytic sophistication to their thesis.

Lack of coherence. Other common observations are of the type: “The argument running through the thesis needs to be more coherent” or “The thesis is poorly organized and put together without any apparent logic.”

The thesis should be seen as one coherent whole. It cannot be a series of self-contained chapters stitched together haphazardly. Students should spend considerable time at the outset of their dissertation thinking about structure, both at the macro level of the entire thesis and the micro level of the chapter. It is a good idea to look at other Ph.D. theses and monographs to get a sense of what constitutes a logical structure.

Poor presentation. The majority of failed Ph.D. dissertations are sloppily presented. They contain typos, grammatical mistakes, referencing errors and inconsistencies in presentation. Looking at some committee reports randomly, I note the following comments:

  • “The thesis is poorly written.”
  • “That previous section is long, badly written and lacks structure.”
  • “The author cannot formulate his thoughts or explain his reasons. It is very hard to understand a good part of the thesis.”
  • “Ensure that the standard of written English is consistent with the standard expected of a Ph.D. thesis.”
  • “The language used is simplistic and does not reflect the standard of writing expected at Ph.D. level.”

For committee members, who are paid a fixed and pitiful sum to examine the work, few things are as off-putting as a poorly written dissertation. Errors of language slow the reading speed and can frustrate or irritate committee members. At worst, they can lead them to miss or misinterpret an argument.

Students should consider using a professional proofreader to read the thesis, if permitted by the university’s regulations. But that still is no guarantee of an error-free thesis. Even after the proofreader has returned the manuscript, students should read and reread the work in its entirety.

When I was completing my Ph.D., I read my dissertation so often that the mere sight of it made me nauseous. Each time, I would spot a typo or tweak a sentence, removing a superfluous word or clarifying an ambiguous passage. My meticulous approach was rewarded when one committee member said in the oral examination that it was the best-written dissertation he had ever read. This was nothing to do with skill or an innate writing ability but tedious, repetitive revision.

Failure to make required changes. It is rare for students to fail to obtain their Ph.D. outright at the oral examination. Usually, the student is granted an opportunity to resubmit their dissertation after making corrections.

Students often submit their revised thesis together with a document explaining how they implemented the committee’s recommendations. And they often believe, wrongly, that this document is proof that they have incorporated the requisite changes and that they should be awarded a Ph.D.

In fact, the committee may feel that the changes do not go far enough or that they reveal further misunderstandings or deficiencies. Here are some real observations by dissertation committees:

  • “The added discussion section is confusing. The only thing that has improved is the attempt to provide a little more analysis of the experimental data.”
  • “The author has tried to address the issues identified by the committee, but there is little improvement in the thesis.”

In short, students who fail their Ph.D. dissertations make changes that are superficial or misconceived. Some revised theses end up worse than the original submission.

Students must incorporate changes in the way that the committee members had in mind. If what is required is unclear, students can usually seek clarification through their supervisors.

In the nine years I have spent helping Ph.D. students with their appeals, I have found that whatever the subject matter of the thesis, the above criticisms appear time and time again in committee reports. They are signs of a poor Ph.D.

Wise students should ask themselves these questions prior to submission of the dissertation:

  • Is the work sufficiently critical/analytical, or is it mainly descriptive?
  • Is it coherent and well structured?
  • Does the thesis look good and read well?
  • If a resubmission, have I made the changes that the examination committee had in mind?

Once students are satisfied that the answer to each question is yes, they should ask their supervisors the same questions.

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Graduate Center | Home

Defending Your Dissertation: A Guide

A woman in front of a bookshelf speaking to a laptop

Written by Luke Wink-Moran | Photo by insta_photos

Dissertation defenses are daunting, and no wonder; it’s not a “dissertation discussion,” or a “dissertation dialogue.” The name alone implies that the dissertation you’ve spent the last x number of years working on is subject to attack. And if you don’t feel trepidation for semantic reasons, you might be nervous because you don’t know what to expect. Our imaginations are great at making The Unknown scarier than reality. The good news is that you’ll find in this newsletter article experts who can shed light on what dissertations defenses are really like, and what you can do to prepare for them.

The first thing you should know is that your defense has already begun. It started the minute you began working on your dissertation— maybe even in some of the classes you took beforehand that helped you formulate your ideas. This, according to Dr. Celeste Atkins, is why it’s so important to identify a good mentor early in graduate school.

“To me,” noted Dr. Atkins, who wrote her dissertation on how sociology faculty from traditionally marginalized backgrounds teach about privilege and inequality, “the most important part of the doctoral journey was finding an advisor who understood and supported what I wanted from my education and who was willing to challenge me and push me, while not delaying me.  I would encourage future PhDs to really take the time to get to know the faculty before choosing an advisor and to make sure that the members of their committee work well together.”

Your advisor will be the one who helps you refine arguments and strengthen your work so that by the time it reaches your dissertation committee, it’s ready. Next comes the writing process, which many students have said was the hardest part of their PhD. I’ve included this section on the writing process because this is where you’ll create all the material you’ll present during your defense, so it’s important to navigate it successfully. The writing process is intellectually grueling, it eats time and energy, and it’s where many students find themselves paddling frantically to avoid languishing in the “All-But-Dissertation” doldrums. The writing process is also likely to encroach on other parts of your life. For instance, Dr. Cynthia Trejo wrote her dissertation on college preparation for Latin American students while caring for a twelve-year-old, two adult children, and her aging parents—in the middle of a pandemic. When I asked Dr. Trejo how she did this, she replied:

“I don’t take the privilege of education for granted. My son knew I got up at 4:00 a.m. every morning, even on weekends, even on holidays; and it’s a blessing that he’s seen that work ethic and that dedication and the end result.”

Importantly, Dr. Trejo also exercised regularly and joined several online writing groups at UArizona. She mobilized her support network— her partner, parents, and even friends from high school to help care for her son.

The challenges you face during the writing process can vary by discipline. Jessika Iwanski is an MD/PhD student who in 2022 defended her dissertation on genetic mutations in sarcomeric proteins that lead to severe, neonatal dilated cardiomyopathy. She described her writing experience as “an intricate process of balancing many things at once with a deadline (defense day) that seems to be creeping up faster and faster— finishing up experiments, drafting the dissertation, preparing your presentation, filling out all the necessary documents for your defense and also, for MD/PhD students, beginning to reintegrate into the clinical world (reviewing your clinical knowledge and skill sets)!”

But no matter what your unique challenges are, writing a dissertation can take a toll on your mental health. Almost every student I spoke with said they saw a therapist and found their sessions enormously helpful. They also looked to the people in their lives for support. Dr. Betsy Labiner, who wrote her dissertation on Interiority, Truth, and Violence in Early Modern Drama, recommended, “Keep your loved ones close! This is so hard – the dissertation lends itself to isolation, especially in the final stages. Plus, a huge number of your family and friends simply won’t understand what you’re going through. But they love you and want to help and are great for getting you out of your head and into a space where you can enjoy life even when you feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash.”

While you might sometimes feel like your dissertation is a flaming heap of trash, remember: a) no it’s not, you brilliant scholar, and b) the best dissertations aren’t necessarily perfect dissertations. According to Dr. Trejo, “The best dissertation is a done dissertation.” So don’t get hung up on perfecting every detail of your work. Think of your dissertation as a long-form assignment that you need to finish in order to move onto the next stage of your career. Many students continue revising after graduation and submit their work for publication or other professional objectives.

When you do finish writing your dissertation, it’s time to schedule your defense and invite friends and family to the part of the exam that’s open to the public. When that moment comes, how do you prepare to present your work and field questions about it?

“I reread my dissertation in full in one sitting,” said Dr. Labiner. “During all my time writing it, I’d never read more than one complete chapter at a time! It was a huge confidence boost to read my work in full and realize that I had produced a compelling, engaging, original argument.”

There are many other ways to prepare: create presentation slides and practice presenting them to friends or alone; think of questions you might be asked and answer them; think about what you want to wear or where you might want to sit (if you’re presenting on Zoom) that might give you a confidence boost. Iwanksi practiced presenting with her mentor and reviewed current papers to anticipate what questions her committee might ask.  If you want to really get in the zone, you can emulate Dr. Labiner and do a full dress rehearsal on Zoom the day before your defense.

But no matter what you do, you’ll still be nervous:

“I had a sense of the logistics, the timing, and so on, but I didn’t really have clear expectations outside of the structure. It was a sort of nebulous three hours in which I expected to be nauseatingly terrified,” recalled Dr. Labiner.

“I expected it to be terrifying, with lots of difficult questions and constructive criticism/comments given,” agreed Iwanski.

“I expected it to be very scary,” said Dr. Trejo.

“I expected it to be like I was on trial, and I’d have to defend myself and prove I deserved a PhD,” said Dr Atkins.

And, eventually, inexorably, it will be time to present.  

“It was actually very enjoyable” said Iwanski. “It was more of a celebration of years of work put into this project—not only by me but by my mentor, colleagues, lab members and collaborators! I felt very supported by all my committee members and, rather than it being a rapid fire of questions, it was more of a scientific discussion amongst colleagues who are passionate about heart disease and muscle biology.”

“I was anxious right when I logged on to the Zoom call for it,” said Dr. Labiner, “but I was blown away by the number of family and friends that showed up to support me. I had invited a lot of people who I didn’t at all think would come, but every single person I invited was there! Having about 40 guests – many of them joining from different states and several from different countries! – made me feel so loved and celebrated that my nerves were steadied very quickly. It also helped me go into ‘teaching mode’ about my work, so it felt like getting to lead a seminar on my most favorite literature.”

“In reality, my dissertation defense was similar to presenting at an academic conference,” said Dr. Atkins. “I went over my research in a practiced and organized way, and I fielded questions from the audience.

“It was a celebration and an important benchmark for me,” said Dr. Trejo. “It was a pretty happy day. Like the punctuation at the end of your sentence: this sentence is done; this journey is done. You can start the next sentence.”

If you want to learn more about dissertations in your own discipline, don’t hesitate to reach out to graduates from your program and ask them about their experiences. If you’d like to avail yourself of some of the resources that helped students in this article while they wrote and defended their dissertations, check out these links:

The Graduate Writing Lab

The Writing Skills Improvement Program

Campus Health Counseling and Psych Services

The top 10 thesis defense questions (+ how to prepare strong answers)

how do you fail a thesis defense

Crafting a thesis is significant, but defending it often feels like the ultimate test. While nerve-wracking, proper preparation can make it manageable. Prepare for your thesis defense with insights on the top questions you can expect, including strategies for answering convincingly.

Mastering the thesis defense: cultivate a success mindset

Confidence enables you to present your research with conviction, while composure allows you to navigate any challenges with grace and clarity.

Remember, you know your thesis best, so trust in your expertise.

Stay composed and focused, relying on your thorough preparation. If you encounter a question you can’t answer, gracefully guide the conversation back to familiar topics.

By embracing these principles and staying confident and adaptable, you’ll navigate your thesis defense with ease.

Question 1: Why did you choose this particular topic for your research?

Moreover, discuss the gaps you identified in the existing literature that motivated you to contribute to your field. What deficiencies or unanswered questions did you observe? How did these gaps inspire you to embark on your research journey with the aim of filling these voids? By articulating the specific shortcomings in the current body of knowledge, you demonstrate a nuanced understanding of your research area and underscore the significance of your work.

Question 2: How does your research contribute to the existing body of knowledge?

This question delves into the vital role your research plays within the existing body of knowledge, urging you to articulate its significance and impact. It’s not merely about the subject matter you’ve studied, but also about the unique contributions and advancements your research brings to your field. To effectively respond, delve into the intricacies of your work and its implications for the broader academic landscape.

Illuminate how your findings could influence future research trajectories. Explore potential avenues for further inquiry that emerge from your research findings. Consider how your work opens up new questions or areas of exploration for future researchers. By identifying these potential research directions, you demonstrate the forward-looking nature of your work and its potential to shape the future trajectory of your field.

Question 3: What are the key findings of your research?

Furthermore, relate these findings to the broader implications they hold for your field. Articulate how your research contributes to advancing knowledge or addressing pressing issues within your academic discipline. Consider the potential impact of your findings on theory, practice, or policy, highlighting their relevance and significance within the larger scholarly community.

Question 4: Can you defend your research methodology?

Defending your research methodology entails a comprehensive understanding of its rationale, alignment with research objectives, and acknowledgment of potential limitations. It’s not merely about explaining the methods employed but also justifying why they were chosen over alternative approaches. To effectively respond, delve into the intricacies of your methodology and its implications for the study.

Be prepared to discuss the limitations inherent in your chosen methodology and how you mitigated them. Acknowledge any constraints or shortcomings associated with the selected approach, such as potential biases, sample size limitations, or data collection challenges. Demonstrate your awareness of these limitations and discuss the strategies implemented to address or minimize their impact on the validity and reliability of your findings.

Question 5: How did you analyze the data and what challenges did you encounter?

Begin by outlining the techniques used for data analysis. Describe the specific methods, tools, and software employed to process and interpret the data collected. Whether it involved quantitative statistical analysis, qualitative coding techniques, or a combination of both, provide insights into the analytical framework guiding your study. Additionally, discuss the rationale behind the chosen analytical approach and how it aligns with the research objectives and questions.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about data analysis, consider the following key points:

Question 6: What theoretical frameworks or references underpin your research?

Begin by naming the key theories and seminal works that guided your research. Identify the theoretical frameworks that provided the conceptual scaffolding for your study, as well as the seminal works that shaped your understanding of the research area. Discuss how these theories and references informed your research design, methodology, and analytical approach, providing a theoretical lens through which to interpret your findings.

Elucidate on how these frameworks shaped your hypothesis and analysis. Describe how the theoretical perspectives and insights gleaned from seminal works informed the development of your research questions, hypotheses, and analytical framework. Discuss the ways in which these theoretical frameworks guided your data collection and interpretation, influencing the selection of variables, measures, and analytical techniques employed in your study.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about theoretical frameworks, consider the following key points:

Question 7: How did you address ethical considerations in your research?

When addressing ethical considerations in your research, it’s essential to demonstrate a commitment to upholding ethical standards and protecting the rights and well-being of participants. Responding to inquiries about ethical protocols involves explaining the steps taken to ensure ethical conduct throughout the research process, describing the consent process and data protection measures implemented, and mentioning any institutional review board (IRB) approvals obtained.

Mention any institutional ethics review board approvals you obtained. Highlight any formal ethical review processes or approvals obtained from relevant regulatory bodies, such as IRBs or ethics committees. Discuss how the research protocol was reviewed for compliance with ethical guidelines and standards, including considerations of participant welfare, informed consent procedures, and data protection measures. By acknowledging the oversight and approval of institutional review bodies, you demonstrate your commitment to ethical integrity and accountability in conducting research involving human subjects.

Question 8: In what ways does your research contribute to the field?

Begin by detailing the novel insights your thesis provides. Articulate the key findings, discoveries, or perspectives that distinguish your research from existing literature and contribute to advancing knowledge within your field. Discuss how your study fills gaps in current understanding, challenges established assumptions, or offers innovative approaches to addressing pressing issues, highlighting its potential to generate new avenues of inquiry and broaden the scope of scholarly discourse.

In summary, when addressing inquiries about the contributions of your research to the field, consider the following key points:

Question 9: How did you ensure your research was free from bias?

Describe any blind or double-blind procedures employed in the study. Explain how blinding techniques were used to prevent bias in data collection, analysis, or interpretation. This may involve withholding certain information from researchers or participants to minimize the potential for conscious or unconscious bias to influence the results. Discuss how these procedures were implemented and their impact on enhancing the credibility and impartiality of the research outcomes.

Question 10: Where can future research go from here?

When considering the potential trajectory of your research topic, it’s essential to identify areas where further investigation could yield valuable insights, discuss unexplored questions that emerged from your research, and reflect on the limitations of your study as starting points for future research endeavors. Responding to inquiries about the future direction of research involves suggesting fruitful areas for further investigation, highlighting unresolved questions, and leveraging the limitations of your study as opportunities for future exploration.

Reflect on the limitations of your study as starting points for future research. Acknowledge any constraints, biases, or methodological shortcomings that may have influenced the outcomes or interpretations of your study. Discuss how these limitations provide opportunities for future research to refine methodologies, address confounding variables, or explore alternative theoretical frameworks. Consider how addressing these limitations could enhance the validity, reliability, and generalizability of future research findings within your field.

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how do you fail a thesis defense

From Nerves to Triumph: Your Personal Guide to Dissertation Defense

Picture of Jennifer Harrison

  • August 26, 2023
  • Aberystwyth University
  • Dissertation Defence/ Viva , Mental Health , Thesis and Dissertation , Thesis Tips , Wellbeing

how do you fail a thesis defense

Picture this: after countless hours of research, writing, and refining, you’re now standing on stage with your cohort, in a gown and funny hat, because … you’ve finally completed that last important milestone in your academic journey – defending your doctoral dissertation. It’s a culmination of years of dedication, determination, and sleepless nights.     You’re not there yet—but you’re close. So how do you make it past this final, nerve-wracking hurdle?  

In this article, we’ll deep-dive into the dissertation defense process, with tips, strategies, and straight-up information. I’ll share my expertise as a coach whose job it is to get people up on that stage.  

What to expect during the dissertation defense

A dissertation defense typically consists of an oral presentation to your dissertation committee, who have already received and read the final draft of your dissertation manuscript. Other members of your cohort and institution, and outside readers or experts, might also be present in the audience.  

Without fail, I see two different reactions to this news from my coaching students: either they are terrified of having their work scrutinized by their committee in public, or they are extremely laid back, knowing that they’ve already done all the hard work in the manuscript. (These later students are the ones paying attention to me).  

You probably already know the general gist of what happens in a defense presentation: you present the highlights of your study, the committee ask questions, and then they vote on whether you pass or need to complete further revision. So, here are some things you might not yet know:

• The oral defense gives the committee the opportunity to ask you about any areas of your study that are still unclear or weak on paper – so that you can prove they are not unclear or weak in real life. In other words, it’s a chance to get anything that got stuck in your head (rather than making it on to paper) out and in front of your committee.

• Your chair or supervisor and committee should not be allowing you to complete the defense process unless they are already confident that the biggest issues with your work have already been resolved.

• Questions are normal – your committee are working with you because your work interests them (hopefully), so questions are as likely to indicate their excitement about your work as a problem they have spotted.

• Revisions are normal – from requests to polish the grammar to insisting you add more supporting sources or develop your recommendations more thoroughly, “pass with revisions” is a normal, common, and expected end result. To pass with no revisions is pretty rare (although I have had a few students achieve this – looking at you, YY!) – like getting 100% on a calculus test in school.

In short, your defense presentation is nothing to be scared of. You are lined up for defense because both you and your committee feel you know your stuff, and now all you need to do is share what you’ve produced and learned and engage people in discussion about it. You got this!

Preparing for Your Dissertation Defense

Still nervous? Ok, that’s fair enough. As with many things, good preparation can help you get those nerves under control, so here are some top tips to help you get ready.

Tick the Boxes

It’s essential to understand the requirements and expectations of your defense committee. Get familiar with the specific guidelines and procedures set by your institution, and make sure you meet all necessary criteria. If you’re giving them what they ask for, you are definitely off to a strong start.

Know Your Stuff

This defense is about you showing off what you know, so before you stand up in front of the crown, take a deep dive into your own research masterpiece. Thoroughly review your dissertation, scrutinizing each chapter, section, and argument. Make notes. Look for anything that might provoke questions or debate. Remember, this is your opportunity to showcase your expertise and demonstrate the depth of your knowledge.

Seek Wise Counsel

Your advisor and committee members are the best resources you could ask for about defense. They set the guidelines, and they judge whether you have done well. Reach out to them for guidance, feedback, and advice—their collective wisdom and support can be instrumental in honing your presentation. And, if they are not all that … well, remember there are others out there who can help, including coaches, mentors, and past students.

Just like any performance, practice makes perfect. Take the time to rehearse your presentation multiple times, refining your delivery and strengthening your command over the content. By doing so, you’ll build confidence and ensure a smoother delivery when the day arrives. Even more importantly, you’ll settle the key points of your study firmly in your brain, making sure you sound like the expert you are.

Anticipate the Unknown

Obviously, you can’t predict every question or comment that will come up during your defense. However, you can still prepare yourself for potential challenges. Get cozy with the research landscape in your field and the interests of your committee members. Step outside of your own perspective and view your work through a stranger’s eyes to anticipate areas of critique or alternative viewpoints. This will enable you to respond thoughtfully and demonstrate your ability to engage in scholarly discourse.

Managing Nerves and Anxiety

You know what’s coming and you know how to prepare – are you still nervous? If so, know that that is completely normal. Here’s how me and two of my students got their dissertation defense nerves under control.

An Awesome Supervisor

For my own dissertation defense (known as a viva voce in the UK), I was incredibly lucky to have a supervisor with whom I had a strong, supportive, and nurturing relationship. Although the main examination of my work was handled by the external reader, who sat across from me behind a big desk, my supervisor sat behind him and nodded and smiled encouragingly every time I said something. Words can’t describe how much that calmed me down and gave me confidence. If you are as lucky as me and have an awesome supervisor, tell your nerves they can stand down – your supervisor’s got your back!

You Can Get Used to Anything

One of my students, who graduated last year, suffered from terrible defense nerves because she was worried about holding so much complex information in her head and delivering it coherently. Her solution? She practiced endlessly, over the course of about a month.

With me as her coach playing the role of audience, or with her kids and other family members, her cohort peers, her dog, and even other academics, she presented that study until she could do so in her sleep. The point was that, by the time the actual defense day rolled around, presenting the study to people was comfortable, familiar territory. Done and dusted!

Temporary Denial

Another student, who graduated shortly after, took completely the opposite approach to managing dissertation defense nerves. This student was burnt out from a huge rush to meet an unexpectedly tight deadline for the final manuscript when her chair decided to retire at the last minute. Rather than burn herself out further, she hit send on the manuscript, paid a designer to polish the design of the presentation rough draft, and then shut down her devices and went on holiday with her family. For one week, she did not look at or talk about her research at all. Instead, she sat on the beach, ate ice cream, and scrolled Instagram (probably). Then, she returned to work (a week before the presentation), refreshed and feeling excited about her work again. The break enabled her to practice and prepare in a calm frame of mind.

Some Parting Thoughts

I won’t walk you through the other obvious stuff, like what makes a good presentation PowerPoint or how body language and appearance can improve your presentation skills—that stuff is what Google is for. You’re an expert by now at finding the information you need, so get out there and find it. However, know that if you need help getting ready for your defense, there are definitely humans around you (and some dogs) who want to help – whether that’s your chair, your family, or a coach like me. I recommend you find them now and let them tell you just how ready for this you are.

Jennifer Harrison

how do you fail a thesis defense

Great ‘Applied’ Expectations: The Importance of Gaining Real-World Experience During Your PhD

A PhD alone can’t give you all the skills and networks you will need to be competitive in the job market. This article guides you through four important benefits of real-world experience during your PhD, and how you can go about gaining this.

how do you fail a thesis defense

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Not sure of your options after your PhD? Confused by the different academic job titles, and how they relate to PhD students? Check out these five academia-oriented job options you can consider.

how do you fail a thesis defense

Spare Me the Lecture: A Short Guide On How to Excel In Your First Teaching Role

If you are reading this, it is assumed that you are about to embark on an exciting new journey in teaching at university level. Congratulations! You are about to enter a highly rewarding area of academia where each day is different and full of opportunity to inspire those around you. This blogpost goes through five key considerations to help you prepare for success before entering the classroom.

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How to Effectively Prepare for Your Thesis Defense

how do you fail a thesis defense

You’ve completed your research study, written your thesis, and think you’re done! If only it were this easy. Before you finish with your thesis, there is one last hurdle to overcome: the thesis defense.

What is a thesis defense?

A thesis defense is an opportunity for you to present your research study before other academic professionals who will evaluate the quality of your academic work. While a thesis defense can sometimes feel like a cross-examination in a court of law, in reality, there is no need to fear your thesis defense as long as you are well-prepared. In this article, we’ll talk about how to prepare for a thesis defense, what to expect at the defense itself, and what comes after your defense. 

Why do I have to defend my thesis?

At your thesis defense, you will discuss everything you’ve learned with a group of interested examiners who are eager to hear your thoughts.

The fundamental purpose of a thesis defense is to prove that you have mastered your subject and can be considered as a knowledgeable expert in your field, thereby allowing you to graduate successfully. For many students, a thesis is one of the first attempts at conducting original research and demonstrating that you are equipped to function as an independent expert in your field. If qualified academic professionals can assess your work, question your methods and results, and confirm that your study is sound and novel, then you meet the requirements.

The exact format and expectations for your thesis defense will differ depending on the region you study in and your institution’s rules for the thesis program. The thesis defense meeting may have just two or three examiners or may have a whole panel of examiners along with an audience. 

If the thought of facing your professors, peers, and parents to present your research study makes you feel dizzy, you aren’t alone . Moreover, a thesis defense is a great opportunity for you to hone your public speaking skills as well as talk about your research study. At your thesis defense, you will discuss everything you’ve learned with a group of interested examiners who are eager to hear your thoughts.

While the format for a thesis defense will vary, as mentioned above, most thesis defenses consist of:

  • Presenting your research study (using PowerPoint or other similar tools)
  • Answering questions from your thesis committee
  • Receiving feedback from your thesis committee

So how can you prepare for it? Let’s talk about some important tips.

Preparing: Before the defense

It is useful to attend multiple defenses and ask others who have gone through the process what it was like.

The best way to prepare for a thesis defense is to attend other defenses at your institution so that you know what to expect. It is useful to attend multiple defenses and ask others who have gone through the process what it was like. Senior students are often happy to provide advice and can give you specific insights about particular examiners as well as details of the administrative process at your institution.

You should also talk to your thesis advisor well in advance of your defense about what to expect. Ask whether you need to shortlist your own committee, how long your presentation should be, and how long the thesis defense will be. The duration of a thesis defense varies by the degree level as well as the institution. On average, expect your defense to be at least an hour long, possibly longer for a Ph.D.

What should my presentation cover and how can I prepare it?

While preparing your presentation, also prepare a list of questions and answers that you think are likely to be asked by your committee.

You will need to prepare a presentation that will cover the details of your research study. It is wise to rehearse this presentation multiple times in advance of your thesis defense so that you will be comfortable when you actually present in front of your audience. While preparing your presentation, also prepare a list of questions and answers that you think are likely to be asked by your committee. If you can, enlist the help of a classmate or friend to be the examiner. They can ask you questions about your research study so you will be able to practice addressing these questions.

One mistake many students make is assuming that all members of their defense committee will thoroughly read their thesis prior to the defense. This is simply not always the case. For this reason, you should make sure your presentation makes sense to someone who has not actually read your thesis. A typical thesis defense presentation gives:

  • An introduction to the topic
  • Explains how the study is significant in the field
  • Covers the main highlights of the methodology and results of the study
  • Picks out the main points from the discussion and conclusion

What should I do the day before my defense?

Before your thesis defense, make sure you have backups of everything you need saved in multiple formats and multiple locations.

Before your thesis defense, make sure you have backups of everything you need to be saved in multiple formats and multiple locations. Put your presentation and your thesis on a USB drive, email it to yourself, upload it to the cloud, and print it out. Leave nothing to chance: you want to be absolutely prepared to defend your thesis short of an act of God obliterating the venue. In addition, make sure you prepare hard copies (printouts) of both your thesis and slideshow for the committee members. It need not be professionally bound at this stage, but they will appreciate having reference material on hand.

Finally, there are some practical steps to take in preparation for the thesis defense. Choose your outfit in advance (you should dress professionally) and practice presenting in it. You should also make sure you know the exact location of the thesis defense venue. Scope out the venue before your defense, if possible, so you can imagine yourself there while you rehearse. If you are presenting virtually, test all your equipment in advance and have a backup plan in case your internet goes out or your computer suddenly crashes. Most importantly, make sure that you eat well and get proper rest the night before. Don’t stay up late rehearsing last minute in the hopes of improving your chances of passing your defense. You will do much better if you are well-rested and alert. 

Time to shine: At the defense

Try to stay calm and remember you are not on trial!

What can you expect on the day of the defense?

Typically, you will enter the room, set up, and begin your presentation once the committee indicates that they are ready. As mentioned above, it is always advisable to bring hard copies of both your thesis and slideshow for the committee. That way, they can easily refer to what you are talking about as you present. Make sure you also bring a pencil and notebook with you to take notes, and some water, because you will get thirsty as you talk.

After you are done with the presentation, the committee members will ask questions. Try to stay calm and remember you are not on trial! Your committee generally wants you to succeed, but they also want you to prove that you really know what you’re talking about. Do your best to answer their questions and never be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. It is much better, to be honest than to be caught lying or making something up during your thesis defense.

After the question and answer session, depending on your institution, you may be asked to leave the room while the committee deliberates. You may also be present while they discuss the merits of your defense and make suggestions for how to revise it. Alternatively, they might adjourn to another room if there is a large audience present. After they deliberate, they will usually thank you for your time, and your defense will be over. At some institutions, they will inform you if you passed right away, while at others, you will find out after a few days. 

How does my committee decide if my work is good or not?

In general, you can expect your thesis defense and your thesis as a whole to be evaluated based on the below criteria:

  • Whether the thesis meets the departmental requirements
  • Whether the research study is logical and clear
  • Whether the stated objectives are met in the study
  • Use of primary and secondary literature
  • Use of relevant and up-to-date sources
  • Methodological rigor
  • Your ability to critically analyze data, facts, relevant literature, and synthesize information into a coherent narrative
  • Writing quality and flow
  • The validity of your conclusions based on your data and analysis
  • The relevance and importance of your research study in the field
  • Your ability to clearly and coherently present what your thesis is about
  • Your ability to answer questions about your work accurately and in-depth
  • Your ability to acknowledge and consider other theories or perspectives and explain why you dismissed one theory in favor of another

In summary, the examining committee want to know:

  • Did you meet the thesis criteria set by your institution?
  • Did you perform high-quality research work?
  • Do you know what you are talking about?

After the defense: What’s next?

After your thesis is approved, you will need to have it professionally bound and then submit copies to your university.

After your thesis defense, you should definitely celebrate and congratulate yourself for all your hard work! Unfortunately, you aren’t quite done yet. Although the committee may notify you about passing, it is also very likely that you will be asked to make some changes to your thesis before you are finally done. You should work with your advisor to finalize and incorporate any comments you received into your work as quickly as possible.

After your thesis is approved, you will need to have it professionally bound and then submit copies to your university. You will also get the chance to order copies for yourself. This process also differs by institution, so make sure you talk to the administration department to figure out what you need to do and when to complete this process.

All in all, while a thesis defense is a scary and overwhelming event, it is also an incredible achievement. Earning your degree is no small feat, and you should definitely feel proud of yourself once you have done it! Check out our site for more tips on how to write a good thesis, where to find the best thesis editing services , and more about thesis editing and proofreading services .

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To prepare for your thesis defense, make sure that you:

Find out your institutional requirements

Talk to your advisor well in advance about what to expect and prepare

Attend defenses of other students to see what they are like

Prepare your presentation early so you can rehearse it

Rehearse your presentation with a timer

Make a list of questions and answers about your research study

Enlist a friend to be the examiner and ask you questions

Prepare multiple backups of your materials (USB drive, Google Drive/Cloud storage, email, hard copy) 

Have a plan for computer/internet problems if you are presenting virtually

Eat well and get a good night’s rest before the defense

Arrive at the defense venue early enough to test any IT equipment or internet connection

What should I do to prepare for my thesis defense? +

  • Find out your institution’s requirements
  • Attend other thesis defenses
  • Speak to your advisor
  • Prepare and practice your presentation
  • Enlist a friend or classmate to act as the examiner and ask you questions while you practice

How long is a typical thesis defense? +

Every institution is different, but most thesis defenses are at least an hour long.

What should my thesis presentation actually contain? +

 A typical thesis defense presentation introduces the thesis topic, explains how your study is significant in the field, and covers the main highlights of the methodology and results of the study. It finally picks out the main points from the discussion and conclusion section of your thesis.

What if I fail my thesis defense? +

The odds that you will fail are extremely low! Most advisors and committees do not let a candidate schedule a defense unless they feel the candidate is ready. So, don’t worry about it. However, if you do fail for some reason, your institution will have a process for you to apply to try again.

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17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them


A thesis defense gives you the chance to show off your thesis work and demonstrate your expertise in your field of study. During this one- to two-hour discussion with the members of your thesis committee, you'll have some control over how you present your research, but your committee will ask you some prodding questions to test your knowledge and preparedness. They will all have read your thesis beforehand, so their questions will relate to your study, topic, methods, data sample, and other aspects.

A good defense requires mastery of the thesis itself, so before you consider the questions you might face,

1. What is your topic, and why did you choose it?

Give a quick summary in just a few sentences on what you've researched. You could certainly go on for hours about your work, but make sure you prepare a way to give a very brief overview of your thesis. Then, give a quick background on your process for choosing this topic.

2. How does your topic contribute to the existing literature? How is it important?

Many researchers identify a need in the field and choose a topic to bridge the gaps that previous literature has failed to cover. For example, previous studies might not have included a certain population, region, or circumstance. Talk about how your thesis enhances the general understanding of the topic to extend the reach beyond what others have found, and then give examples of why the world needs that increased understanding. For instance, a thesis on romaine lettuce crops in desert climates might bring much-needed knowledge to a region that might not have been represented in previous work.

3. What are the key findings of your study?

When reporting your main results, make sure you have a handle on how detailed your committee wants you to be. Give yourself several options by preparing 1) a very general, quick summary of your findings that takes a minute or less, 2) a more detailed rundown of what your study revealed that is 3-5 minutes long, and 3) a 10- to 15-minute synopsis that delves into your results in detail. With each of these responses prepared, you can gauge which one is most appropriate in the moment, based on what your committee asks you and what has already been requested.

4. What type of background research did you do for your study?

Here you'll describe what you did while you were deciding what to study. This usually includes a literary review to determine what previous researchers have already introduced to the field. You also likely had to look into whether your study was going to be possible and what you would need in order to collect the needed data. Did you need info from databases that require permissions or fees?

5. What was your hypothesis, and how did you form it?

Describe the expected results you had for your study and whether your hypothesis came from previous research experience, long-held expectations, or cultural myths.

6. What limitations did you face when writing your text?

It's inevitable — researchers will face roadblocks or limiting factors during their work. This could be a limited population you had access to, like if you had a great method of surveying university students, but you didn't have a way to reach out to other people who weren't attending that school.

7. Why did you choose your particular method for your study?

Different research methods are more fitting to specific studies than others (e.g., qualitative vs. quantitative ), and knowing this, you applied a method that would present your findings most effectively. What factors led you to choose your method?

8. Who formed the sample group of your study, and why did you choose this population?

Many factors go into the selection of a participant group. Perhaps you were motivated to survey women over 50 who experience burnout in the workplace. Did you take extra measures to target this population? Or perhaps you found a sample group that responded more readily to your request for participation, and after hitting dead ends for months, convenience is what shaped your study population. Make sure to present your reasoning in an honest but favorable way.

9. What obstacles or limitations did you encounter while working with your sample?

Outline the process of pursuing respondents for your study and the difficulties you faced in collecting enough quality data for your thesis. Perhaps the decisions you made took shape based on the participants you ended up interviewing.

10. Was there something specific you were expecting to find during your analysis?

Expectations are natural when you set out to explore a topic, especially one you've been dancing around throughout your academic career. This question can refer to your hypotheses , but it can also touch on your personal feelings and expectations about this topic. What did you believe you would find when you dove deeper into the subject? Was that what you actually found, or were you surprised by your results?

11. What did you learn from your study?

Your response to this question can include not only the basic findings of your work (if you haven't covered this already) but also some personal surprises you might have found that veered away from your expectations. Sometimes these details are not included in the thesis, so these details can add some spice to your defense.

12. What are the recommendations from your study?

With connection to the reasons you chose the topic, your results can address the problems your work is solving. Give specifics on how policymakers, professionals in the field, etc., can improve their service with the knowledge your thesis provides.

13. If given the chance, what would you do differently?

Your response to this one can include the limitations you encountered or dead ends you hit that wasted time and funding. Try not to dwell too long on the annoyances of your study, and consider an area of curiosity; for example, discuss an area that piqued your interest during your exploration that would have been exciting to pursue but didn't directly benefit your outlined study.

14. How did you relate your study to the existing theories in the literature?

Your paper likely ties your ideas into those of other researchers, so this could be an easy one to answer. Point out how similar your work is to some and how it contrasts other works of research; both contribute greatly to the overall body of research.

15. What is the future scope of this study?

This one is pretty easy, since most theses include recommendations for future research within the text. That means you already have this one covered, and since you read over your thesis before your defense, it's already fresh in your mind.

16. What do you plan to do professionally after you complete your study?

This is a question directed more to you and your future professional plans. This might align with the research you performed, and if so, you can direct your question back to your research, maybe mentioning the personal motivations you have for pursuing study of that subject.

17. Do you have any questions?

Although your thesis defense feels like an interrogation, and you're the one in the spotlight, it provides an ideal opportunity to gather input from your committee, if you want it. Possible questions you could ask are: What were your impressions when reading my thesis? Do you believe I missed any important steps or details when conducting my work? Where do you see this work going in the future?

Bonus tip: What if you get asked a question to which you don't know the answer? You can spend weeks preparing to defend your thesis, but you might still be caught off guard when you don't know exactly what's coming. You can be ready for this situation by preparing a general strategy. It's okay to admit that your thesis doesn't offer the answers to everything – your committee won't reasonably expect it to do so. What you can do to sound (and feel!) confident and knowledgeable is to refer to a work of literature you have encountered in your research and draw on that work to give an answer. For example, you could respond, "My thesis doesn't directly address your question, but my study of Dr. Leifsen's work provided some interesting insights on that subject…." By preparing a way to address curveball questions, you can maintain your cool and create the impression that you truly are an expert in your field.

After you're done answering the questions your committee presents to you, they will either approve your thesis or suggest changes you should make to your paper. Regardless of the outcome, your confidence in addressing the questions presented to you will communicate to your thesis committee members that you know your stuff. Preparation can ease a lot of anxiety surrounding this event, so use these possible questions to make sure you can present your thesis feeling relaxed, prepared, and confident.

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Take your thesis to new heights with our expert editing

Take your thesis to new heights with our expert editing


  • Your committee won’t allow you to defend if you’re not ready! Seriously, I have never seen anyone defend whose committee didn’t think he/she was worthy of a PhD. After all, those committee meetings are a test of your knowledge and your science, and the permission to defend is an admission by your committee that they see you as a PhD scientist now, not a PhD candidate.
  • YOU ARE READY! You’ve done the work, read the papers, thought through the project, planned experiments, troubleshot those experiments, prayed to the science gods, and navigated every challenge along the way. You know what one needs to know to get a PhD.
  • Possibly the most important point: this is YOUR project. Nobody knows as much about it as you do. As mentioned above, this has been your obsession for the past few years, you have gone through the articles, done the experiments and figured out the conditions, as well as had the “sneak preview” of the results before anyone else, in addition to all the experiments and data that did not go in your thesis (the troubleshooting, for example). You should rest easy in self-belief, knowing that you will not have any issues during the defense; you know more than or as much as everyone else in that room.
  • Answering questions: here is the biggest tip for your defense—it is OK not to answer everything, to pause and think about an answer, and to speculate. After all, your committee wants to see your scientific thought process, and they might ask you hypothetical questions or ridiculously convoluted ones that don’t have an answer, at least not a single correct answer, so relax, take your time to think, and have an open scientific discussion with them.
  • Scared of presenting your work? Well, at this point you’ve already had a bazillion meetings and presentations, and you’ve discussed your incomplete project with the same people you will present your now COMPLETE story to. It’s not like your defense is going to attract huge crowds of people you don’t know: The majority will be your department, your coworkers, your friends, family, and a few random students and scientists from your institute who have some interest in the topic of your study. These are all people who are supportive, friendly, and helpful, so draw on that support from the crowd and just present with a big smile on your face. It’s your time to shine, and those moments can be few and far between in science (we’re not in it for admiration and fans, unless I’m going about this all wrong).
  • You’ve put in a lot of hard work all these years! This is your time to finish with a bang, so celebrate by kicking ass at your defense, sharing your knowledge and the problem-solving skills you’ve honed throughout your research, and having a great time!

The enjoyment of your thesis defense depends mostly on believing in yourself. You’ve made it this far, the defense is mainly your public celebration of the work you’ve put in and the knowledge you’ve acquired. You know the data, the ideas, the answer, and the future directions. If you’re reading this before your defense, the Cliff Notes version of this whole article is: You’re going to be great, you’re at this point because you deserve your PhD degree, and you will be done with this whole process in a few hours. Enjoy it and celebrate hard afterwards! And an early Congrats from me!

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Thesis Defense Steps: Full Guide How to Prepare and Present

Thesis Defense Steps: Full Guide How to Prepare and Present

How To Prepare For Your Thesis Defense

How To Prepare For Your Thesis Defense

If you are conducting post-graduate research within your discipline, you will come across the phrase “thesis defense”. A thesis defense is part of the things you will need to accomplish before acquiring a postgraduate degree. 

The thesis defense comes at the end of the graduate program. It is used to determine or define your education milestone while in the university. For this, you need a thesis defense comprehensive guide to be outstanding.

how do you fail a thesis defense

You should do a thesis defense after you have completed the course work and attended practicum or internship programs.

People Also Read: Thesis vs Hypothesis vs Theory: the Differences and examples

How Long does a Thesis Defense Take?

On average, a thesis defense takes somewhere between 30 minutes and one hour. However, the time it takes to do a thesis defense depends on the academic level you are in.

While there is no standard or general length for a thesis defense, post-graduate sessions will take longer compared to undergraduate sessions.

Yes, some institutions, professors, or some disciplines may require you to do a thesis defense at your undergraduate level. But the length of the presentation depends on your academic level.

What is Thesis Defense?

Defending your thesis

A thesis defense is an act of presenting your academic work to a panel or committee of professors and other involved scholars. From this, they can gauge or grade your abilities in presenting your work.

The arguments presented during the thesis defense are to ascertain that you have understood the course and your selected topic.

You will have to first hand in your work or paper to the professor for grading. Thereafter, you will be summoned for thesis defense.

When summoned for a thesis defense, you will be required to answer all the questions presented to you by the panel of professors. After this, you will be required to leave the room. The panel is to decide whether your paper or thesis is ready for publication. In addition, the panel checks whether your work needs corrections. 

In other words, a thesis defense is a forum that allows postgraduate students to defend the topic of their thesis before a panel of professors. Therefore, the thesis defense is part of the requirements that postgraduate students must accomplish to receive advanced degrees in whichever academic disciplines they pursue. 

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Factors that Determine the Length of a Thesis Defense

Just like a dissertation that you have to write a thesis , it is important that you will have to present it. The time is taken to do this varies. The following four factors determine the length of a thesis defense

Determining the length of thesis defense

  • As noted earlier, the level of education will determine the length of your thesis defense.
  • The second factor is the institutional requirements. Some institutions will have a specified amount of time allocated for a thesis defense. In some institutions, that time is longer than and vice versa.

Very recognized institutions of higher learning will have the autonomy to decide on the length of a thesis defense.

  • The third factor that will determine the length of a thesis defense is the consensus of the panel of professors. Some will give students very limited time to do a thesis defense while others will give more time to their students.

Some institutions, scholars, applaud limiting the amount of time for thesis defense and educators because it gauges the student’s ability to accurately defend their work within a short time. If they succeed, then they are good learners.

  • Another factor determining the time of a thesis defense is the academic discipline that is explored by the topic.

While every academic discipline deserves respect, they are not the same in terms of the complexity of the concepts and what the student covers.

Some disciplines will require students to come up with much longer papers. This means that the time it could take to do a thesis defense will be longer. 

From the aforementioned factors, it is evident that it would be difficult to predetermine the standard length of a thesis without holding some parameters or factors constant such as the academic level of the thesis. 

Also, the length of your dissertation or thesis determines the time you will take to present it at your defense session. Longer documents will take you longer to defend.

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How to Defend a Thesis – 5 Comprehensive Steps

Some steps can help you defend your thesis effectively. You should follow the steps below if you are summoned by a panel of professors to defend your thesis. 

1. Adequate Preparation

preparing for thesis defense

When you are required to defend your thesis, you will be given a specific date you will appear before the panel of professors for the actual exercise.

As long as you have submitted your paper to the professor for grading, you should always be aware that you will have to defend your thesis.

Therefore, between the period of submitting your paper and the date provided for thesis defense, you should do adequate preparation.

Students will have several months to prepare for a thesis defense. This is because the institutions themselves want their students to be well prepared before they meet the panel of professors.

After all, they would wish their students to excel in their studies. As noted, there will be a specified date for the thesis defense. Therefore, it will not surprise their committee members or students when the time comes for defending the thesis. 

Adequate preparation entails knowing or rather anticipating what is required of you. You should be prepared for the kinds of questions your thesis topic will provoke from the panel and practice on them.

When you have the right attitude and have adequately prepared for the thesis defense, it would be nearly impossible to fail. Also, be prepared to wear decently during the defense. 

2. Carry an In-Depth Knowledge of the Thesis

This is a very important step when defending your thesis. Since you are the one who has written the paper, you should be fully aware of the topic and the contents of your paper. What this means is that you should adequately research the topic of your thesis so that you can be ready for any question you are asked by the panel of professors.

For a postgraduate student who wishes to master their discipline, it would be a shame if you do not know about your topic.

For example, if you are within the field of environmental sciences and have written your paper based on the discipline, you should narrow down the scope of your knowledge to that of your topic, the topic of your paper should act as the guide to the amount of knowledge you are supposed to give for the sake of the thesis defense.

Avoid too much knowledge because it may overwhelm you. At the same time, do not narrow down the scope of your topic too much because you will have limited knowledge during the thesis defense.

Your instructor or professor can help you in terms of giving you direction on the type and scope of knowledge you are required to have during a thesis defense. 

3. Prepare an Introduction

writing resources for thesis defense introduction

Have you ever heard of the first impression and its significance?

The first impression of a person will determine how the other person will perceive them.

If it is terrible, the other person may consider them a terrible person and even dislike them.

An introduction plays the same role as the “first impression” of your thesis defense to the panel of professors.

You should prepare a good introduction that should summarize the contents of your paper, the reasons why you selected the topic and its relevance to the discipline, and any other detail that you will anticipate to be asked during the thesis defense.

Make sure that the thesis is crystal clear and concise to avoid making any contradictions of your topic and confusing the panel.

Since you will be given several months to prepare for your thesis defense, take time to refine your introduction.

Make adjustments or corrections whenever necessary so that you will have a perfect introduction for your thesis defense. You may recite the introduction or carry it with you if the panel will allow it. 

4. Making the Actual Presentation

The action presentation of the thesis defense is quite scary to many students. This is because you will have to face a panel of professors to defend your paper. Based on your paper’s content, you will answer several questions.

Therefore, if you fail during the actual presentation, your paper may not be published and you will have to do further revisions. 

During the actual presentation, you should be well dressed because grooming tells a lot about the character of a student. Carry the necessary equipment you will require during the presentation. Such equipment can include a laptop that contains a PowerPoint presentation, a pen, and a notebook.

The PowerPoint presentation should be legible, objective, and strategically written to maximize the time used to defend your thesis. Ensure that you arrive early to the place where you will face the panel of professors to give you time to reflect and lessen your anxiety.  

As aforementioned, adequate preparation, understanding your topic or thesis, and a good attitude will guarantee success. Therefore, if you adhere to the aforementioned guidelines during the presentation, there is a high probability that your paper will be published. 

5. Do a Good Conclusion

Doing a good introduction and effectively presenting your defense is not enough without an equally good conclusion. Just like you took a good time to write your thesis , you will also need a good time to write a presentation and a good conclusion.

A good conclusion of your presentation leaves the panel of professors with a good impression of you and your overall ability to defend your work within the academic community. 

A good conclusion will sum up your work. What this means is that you should include a summary of the topic’s background, the literature review, the methodologies, the findings, and the discussions. Make sure that the conclusion compresses the details of your paper logically. It should be brief and straight to the point.

Finally, the conclusion of your thesis defense should clearly describe the limitations or setbacks encountered while you were conducting the study.

Even though you are trying to show that you are a good post-graduate student, it is important to be clear about the limitations. This will demonstrate your academic integrity and ability to conduct actual research in the field. 

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Tips on How to do a Good Thesis Defense

A good score

1. Anticipate the Questions 

As aforementioned, you should anticipate the questions you may be asked by the panel and prepare for them.

The questions’ base is on your thesis. As such, you should go through your paper and list the possible questions.

At the same time, the academic expertise of the committee members determines the types of questions you may be asked.

Try to have an informed idea, based on your paper, on the areas to receive much focus. 

2. Dress for Success

Do you remember that we have talked about first impressions? Well, your dress code and overall grooming will have a degree of impact on the outcomes of your presentation. Dress well.

Mostly, you are required to dress in an official attire because you are going to do a presentation to a panel of academic experts. You should try as much as possible not to wear casual or provocative clothes. 

3. Delegate

To avoid being overwhelmed during the day of your presentation, you can delegate some of the less complicated activities to a trusted person or friend.

The activities that you can delegate include setting up the equipment you will use for your presentation or distributing handouts to the panel. 

4. Create a Backup Plan

This especially involves the mode of presenting your defense. Since you will be using your laptop and a projector, they may fail during the presentation. It is therefore important to have a plan B. such can include having printed handouts. 

People Also Read: Conclusion Starters: What they are and Examples for Common Essays

FAQs on Thesis Defense

Can you fail a thesis defense.

The answer to this question is yes. Though it is rare, it is possible to fail a thesis defense if you are not adequately prepared and you don’t know much about the topic. This would indicate that you haven’t understood the course or you did not write the paper. You hired someone to do it for you. 

How long is a Ph.D. thesis defense?

A Ph.D. thesis defense is about 2 hours long. However, it may differ from one country to the other.

How long is the master’s thesis presentation?

A master’s thesis is usually one-and-a-half hours long. It takes a lesser time compared to a Ph.D. thesis. 

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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What percentage of PhD theses are rejected nowadays?

What percentage of PhD theses (e.g., physics ones) are rejected nowadays? And why?

Geremia's user avatar

  • 1 Probably varies widely by department, location, etc. You shouldn't have to narrow it down, but might you want to? –  Nick Stauner Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 4:43
  • 33 What do you mean by "rejected"? For example, that a thesis defense takes place but the student fails and leaves graduate school without a Ph.D.? What if the student fails but is told to try again later after doing a little more work? What about a student who thinks he/she should graduate but whose thesis committee disagrees and won't schedule a defense? You might be able to find statistics for failed defenses, but by itself that data may not tell you much. (My impression is that most borderline theses never make it to the defense.) –  Anonymous Mathematician Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 8:49
  • 11 At many universities (my experience is exclusively EU-centric) there are at least two self-censorship filters before it comes to a defense. Firstly, and most importantly, it's the thesis supervisor who must approve your manuscript as defensible. Secondly, you often also need a dean's approval for moving on towards an actual defense. There are many theses which do not make it through these safeguard filters on their first attempt, but if the system works, you almost never see an officially failed defense/rejected thesis. Hence the numbers on the actual "failure rate" do not really exist. –  walkmanyi Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 10:20
  • 3 @walkmanyi Same for Austria and Switzerland. I have never heard of somebody 'failing' their defense (that would be an affront against the advisor just as much as against the student), but certainly there are people that just never finish their PhD. I would say, in my group drop-out rate was around 25% - 33%, but I never bothered to count. –  xLeitix Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 13:26
  • 2 In some graduate schools (e.g. the one I'm confronted with at Harvard), one factor is the 'qualifying exam'. I know of someone with a good publication record, whose adviser think she/he perfectly qualifies for the PhD, and who failed her/his qualifying exam. No PhD for that person, although the quality of the work far exceeds the one of the average thesis I have seen in the field. –  Cape Code Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 13:48

2 Answers 2

I'm only personally aware of one student who failed his PhD defense (this is at an R1 US university). After his advisor refused to approve his thesis, he went over his head and got the department chair to schedule the defense anyway. Results were predictable.

On the other hand, "major revisions" are very common, especially, I hear, in the humanities (in engineering, it's far more common to receive token feedback -- if the committee reads the thesis at all! -- than demands for substantial changes).

Outright failing a student during a defense is an extreme embarassment, for the department, for the PhD committee, for the advisor, and of course for the student, so there is every incentive to ensure that a thesis that goes to defense will pass. Moreover, since most theses these days are compilations of previously-published work, it is very easy to tell well in advance if the student is expected to pass.

So if an advisor has doubts about the quality of a student's thesis, he will either ask the student to spend more time improving it, or "suggest" the student start looking for jobs in industry.

user168715's user avatar

Very small, as every failed PhD defence is also a shame for the professor. As a result, the professor will not allow to proceed with defence of the really weak work. And he will listen for other professors that would usually tell in advance they think to vote against.

Hence, most likely, the following will happen:

  • If a PhD student just does not work enough, the professor will not allow to continue studies after some time.
  • If a PhD student is mad with some own theory or topic that academic community unlikely to accept, the professor will not allow to defend such a work.
  • If it is really a bad luck with your topic, the professor will change the topic.
  • If the professor has made a strategic mistake and your diligent work does not give results that could be published in a good journal, the professor should normally try to publish anyway in less reputable sources, good enough for PhD defence.

The PhD supervisor is more interested in your success than a lecturer is interested in the progress of the student. Same professor that writes low grades with relatively little attention (as long as he is sure the student deserves) will spend more time when acting as a PhD supervisor, will try to help, will try to fix the topic. This is because PhD project is also his research project. And who would want ones research project to fail? Of course, the professor tries to find a good PhD student for his project, or, if this was not successful, at least to fire lazy or uncooperative student in the first year. But this is way before the actual PhD defence.

If to ask differently, how many PhD students do not get they degree at the end, this really depends a lot on the traditions inside the institution. However in all places I have seen this was below 20 % or about. The first post doctoral position is also seldom a problem.

The next serious threshold you will need to pass is the professor position or at least a permanent researcher position, if you want to stay in science.

algorithmic_fungus's user avatar

  • 2 Can you provide a link to a university that requires the advisor to approve the thesis before being submitted. In my experience this is not how it works in the US or UK. –  StrongBad Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 14:14
  • 6 Regardless of the rules, it is very uncommon to go to defence against the will of the supervisor, and you really cannot expect to pass if you are in such a conflict, at least in European system. I have seen cases in Germany, Switzerland and Lithuania. –  algorithmic_fungus Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 14:23
  • 2 To say differently, if the supervisor thinks you will pass, you will most likely pass. And, with the help of your supervisor, it should not be extremely difficult to bring your PhD into good shape. The PhD supervisor is more interested in your success than a lecturer is interested in the progress of the student. But if you are in a conflict instead, chances to succeed are minor. For such a case, I would suggest to change the supervisor instead, even if this would mean changing the university as well. –  algorithmic_fungus Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 14:52
  • 1 @DanielE.Shub: just a quick example of a university requiring an approval of a thesis supervisor before engaging a panel of examiners/reviewers: TU Delft. See article 18.2 (pg. 24), as well as the formal process description (row 6 in table pg. 8) in the TU Delft doctorate regulations . –  walkmanyi Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 15:26
  • 1 In short. Trust your supervisors. If you have a good relationship with them (or even a bad one honestly), and they think you will pass, then you will almost certainly pass. If: you go over your supervisors head, your supervisors have been sub-par or not supportive, your supervisors have not thoroughly read your thesis, then you have more cause for concern. –  DryLabRebel Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 2:13

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how do you fail a thesis defense

'Sense of shock': Democrats melt down over Joe Biden's debate disaster

how do you fail a thesis defense

WASHINGTON − Democrats and other opponents of Donald Trump melted down as President Joe Biden struggled during Thursday' s debate, with some suggesting he should bow out to allow another Democrat to run instead.

Biden's voice was hoarse and raspy from the start. He stumbled over words and had to correct himself with numbers. He was sometimes hard to follow. On one occasion , the president appeared to lose his train of thought, stopped speaking and concluded − confusingly − with the line, "we finally beat Medicare."

"That's a good man. He loves his country. He's doing the best that he can," said Van Jones, a Democratic political analyst for CNN. "But he had a test to meet tonight to restore confidence in the country and of the base, and he failed to do that."

Jones added: "We're still far from our convention. And there is time for this party to figure out a different way forward if he will allow us to do that."

Biden, 81, entered the debate badly needing to energize his campaign, unite his party and answer skepticism about his age and ability to serve another term. Although he improved during the debate after an especially rocky start, Biden did not silence the concerns.

One House Democrat, who spoke to USA TODAY on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly, described the debate as a "disaster." 

"Trump lied and Biden played all defense," the Democrat said.

Another former Democratic member of Congress, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a conversation needs to happen privately with Biden about allowing someone else to run as the Democratic nominee. The lawmaker said he turned off the debate after the first hour because he couldn't stand watching Biden not stand up to Trump.

“It's not enough to be decent and honest and right on the issues," the Democrat said. "You have to be able to persuade, to defend your values forcefully and clearly, to command respect and to be able to take on liars and bullies like Trump to be the leader of this country."

Biden's struggles made him lack forceful responses to Trump's repeated attacks and his downplaying of his role surrounding the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. While Trump talked, Biden often looked his way with a blank stare and his mouth open.

David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama , said there was a "sense of shock" with how poorly Biden started the debate.

"He seemed a little disoriented. He did get stronger as the debate went on," Axelrod said on CNN. "But by that time, I think the panic had set in. And I think you're going to hear discussions that − I don't know will lead to anything − but there is going to be discussions about whether he should continue."

Maria Shriver, former first lady of California, a Biden supporter and member of the famed Democratic Kennedy family, shard her concerns in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"I love Joe Biden. I know he’s a good man. I know his heart is good. I know he’s dedicated to our country and is surrounded by good people. Tonight was heartbreaking in many ways," Shriver wrote. "This is a big political moment. There’s panic in the Democratic party. It’s going to be a long night."

Addressing Democratic concerns, a Biden campaign adviser told USA TODAY: "President Biden is the only person who has ever beaten Donald Trump. He will do it again. Donald Trump did not give voters any reason to vote for him tonight. On the issues, the American people are with Joe Biden."

Vice President Kamala Harris also defended Biden's performance.

"What we saw tonight is the president making a very clear contrast with Donald Trump on all of the issues that matter to the American people," Harris said. "Yes, there was a slow start but it was a strong finish.

"Listen, people can debate on style points, but ultimately this election and who is the president of the United States has to be about substance − and the contrast is clear," Harris said.

Sen. Rafael Warnock, D-Ga., when asked whether he was concerned about Biden's chances in November, responded: “I would be concerned if the president didn’t have a record to run on."

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, in an interview on MSNBC, called the Democratic criticism of Biden's performance "unhelpful" and "unnecessary."

"We've got to go in and got to keep our head high, and we've got to have the back of this president. You don't turn your back because of one performance. What kind of party does that? He's been a master class."

Others disagreed.

"Guys, the Dems should nominate someone else - before it’s too late," businessman Andrew Yang, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination in 2020 and backed Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., in the Democratic primary this year. He added the hashtag "#swapJoeout."

Trump seemed to sense Biden's difficulties. "I really don't know what he said at the end of that sentence," Trump said during one exchange on immigration during the debate. "And I don't think he knows what he said either."

"Sorry, I’m voting for President Biden but a disaster so far," Republican strategist Mike Murphy, a Trump critic, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, shortly into the debate. "On a 1 to 10 point scale − if this continues − the panic explosion inside the Democratic Party will hit 28 tomorrow."

Elise Jordan, an MSNBC contributor and an aide in President George W. Bush's administration, said on X, "If President Biden cares about preserving American democracy, he should drop out of the election."

Geoff Garin, a Biden pollster, downplayed the Democratic unrest , however. "The freak out over the debate is way overwrought," he said in a post on X. "Biden got off to a slow start but he had a strong finish. Trump was increasing incoherent and deranged as the debate went on, and Trump's extremism was on full display."

Garin added: "At the end of the day Joe Biden will win because he builds America up while Donald Trump consistently tears it down."

Contributing: Ken Tran. Reach Joey Garrison on X @joeygarrison.

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Does anyone know someone who had failed their PhD defence? How did it happen?


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  6. Ace the master's thesis defense!


  1. How would one fail a master thesis defense?

    It's pretty rare for a student to fail the defense of a master thesis in the Swedish systems, but I have seen a few over the years. The three most common reasons include: Did not show up to defend the thesis (AKA: Lose on walkover) Doesn't know the material of the thesis (AKA: Didn't write it)

  2. Have you ever seen anyone fail a PhD Defense? : r/AskAcademia

    Yep. We have a program limit of 7 years. Basically during your 7th year, if you have not gotten good enough contributions to defend, you would be kicked out of the program. We have a completion rate of 60%. 60% of all PhD candidates get their PhD, 40% dropout. For context, Im in one of the top 25 universities in the world.

  3. I realize I made a huge mistake in my thesis and am not sure what to do

    The thesis and thesis defense is less about having the results you wanted to have, and more about demonstrating that you know how to do good quality research and can work on that somewhat independently. ... there are people who have failed during the proposal if their project is especially unoriginal and basic. So, in my program anyway, there ...

  4. How to prepare an excellent thesis defense

    Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your thesis defense: 1. Anticipate questions and prepare for them. You can absolutely prepare for most of the questions you will be asked. Read through your thesis and while you're reading it, create a list of possible questions.

  5. thesis

    If you submit your thesis but don't have time to do the changes then it's possible that you could fail. It's even more likely that you don't fail but you don't pass your defense on your timeline. Your supervisor is (wisely) unwilling to commit to other people doing things that are outside of your control.

  6. The common pitfalls of failed dissertations and how to steer clear of

    Lack of critical reflection. Probably the most common reason for failing a Ph.D. dissertation is a lack of critical analysis. A typical observation of the examination committee is, "The thesis is generally descriptive and a more analytical approach is required.". For doctoral work, students must engage critically with the subject matter ...

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    The first thing you should know is that your defense has already begun. It started the minute you began working on your dissertation— maybe even in some of the classes you took beforehand that helped you formulate your ideas. This, according to Dr. Celeste Atkins, is why it's so important to identify a good mentor early in graduate school.

  8. The top 10 thesis defense questions (+ how to prepare strong answers)

    Crafting a thesis is significant, but defending it often feels like the ultimate test. While nerve-wracking, proper preparation can make it manageable. Prepare for your thesis defense with insights on the top questions you can expect, including strategies for answering convincingly. Contents Mastering the thesis defense: cultivate a success mindsetQuestion 1: Why did you choose

  9. Mastering Your Ph.D.: Defending Your Thesis With Flair

    Answering a question properly is a three-step process. 1. Listen to the question carefully. Too often, Ph.D. candidates stop listening halfway through because they believe they know what the question is about, or they are so nervous they start preparing the answer in their heads while the question is still being asked.

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    A dissertation defense typically consists of an oral presentation to your dissertation committee, who have already received and read the final draft of your dissertation manuscript. ... Without fail, I see two different reactions to this news from my coaching students: either they are terrified of having their work scrutinized by their ...

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    Lorie Owens, or PhDiva (@Dissertating) as she is commonly known in academic Twitter circles, paints a vivid picture of how she failed at her first dissertation defense. This narrative originally ...

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    The oral defense of your dissertation is, in essence, your formal introduction to your new colleagues—you are the expert on your subject. In the defense you'll be expected to cogently and clearly explain your work and how it fits with other research and scholarship in your field. The exact nature of the oral defense varies by discipline and ...

  13. How to Effectively Prepare for Your Thesis Defense

    Have a plan for computer/internet problems if you are presenting virtually. Eat well and get a good night's rest before the defense. Arrive at the defense venue early enough to test any IT equipment or internet connection. For more tips on how to write a good thesis, where to find the best thesis editing services.

  14. Is it really impossible to fail a PhD because you failed your defense

    I'm a month away form my defense and I'm stressed to death. I rationally know it will all be fine, I have been pretty much directly told that as long as I show up I'm good to go. But.. in my mind there is a chance that I will literally not know how to answer ANY of the questions they are going to ask me to the extent where they will just have to go "We are very sorry but we cannot give a PhD ...

  15. 17 Thesis Defense Questions and How to Answer Them

    Give yourself several options by preparing 1) a very general, quick summary of your findings that takes a minute or less, 2) a more detailed rundown of what your study revealed that is 3-5 minutes long, and 3) a 10- to 15-minute synopsis that delves into your results in detail. With each of these responses prepared, you can gauge which one is ...

  16. What is a thesis defense?

    Thesis: process X is a feasible way to do task Y. One defense for this kind of claim is an analysis of the complexity, or completeness, or whatever, of the theoretical algorithm. In computer science, the more common defense is based on empirical results from running an experiment. A good defense here means more than one example, and answers to ...

  17. What happens if you fail your thesis defence? : r/GradSchool

    Once they reach 2 failures, they are kicked out of the program. If you fail your oral defense, that's one failure. Typically students are given a list of revisions, elements to fix/redo, etc. They can then take it again the next semester. If you fail it twice, you are out.

  18. How can I pass my PhD thesis defense when nothing has been successful?

    If you yourself consider your PhD "failed" you will have a hard time selling it to a committee. You need to embrace the idea that you did good research, and not measure the success of your own work on factors outside of your control. In that sense, you should defend what you did and why.

  19. Why You Shouldn't be Scared of Your Thesis Defense

    The enjoyment of your thesis defense depends mostly on believing in yourself. You've made it this far, the defense is mainly your public celebration of the work you've put in and the knowledge you've acquired. You know the data, the ideas, the answer, and the future directions.

  20. I failed my dissertation defense. But I am not a failure.

    No one prepared me for the worst possible outcome of a dissertation defense: Failure. Yet, after waiting outside in the hallway for over 90 minutes, I was certain of it. My advisor summoned me back into the room with a wave of the arm as he shook his head and glibly said, "You're going to have to do it again.".

  21. Thesis Defense Steps: Full Guide How to Prepare and Present

    5. Do a Good Conclusion. Doing a good introduction and effectively presenting your defense is not enough without an equally good conclusion. Just like you took a good time to write your thesis, you will also need a good time to write a presentation and a good conclusion.

  22. thesis

    Secondly, you often also need a dean's approval for moving on towards an actual defense. There are many theses which do not make it through these safeguard filters on their first attempt, but if the system works, you almost never see an officially failed defense/rejected thesis. Hence the numbers on the actual "failure rate" do not really exist.

  23. Democrats melt down over Joe Biden's disastrous presidential debate

    Biden's voice was hoarse and raspy from the start. He stumbled over words and had to correct himself with numbers. He was sometimes hard to follow.

  24. Does anyone know someone who had failed their PhD defence? How ...

    You pretty much give an outline of your thesis, what you've done, and what you have remaining to do. If your committee agrees, then you schedule your defense and go on with it. Never seen anyone "fail" the defense because the committee members would NEVER EVER let any one schedule a defense if they were not ready.