And when after a short wait in the hallway, I was called in to shake hands with them as a newly minted Doctor of Philosophy, I actually felt like one.
This expert advice comes from Sonja Foss and William Waters - authors of Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation Sonja Foss would say that the defense begins as soon as you start working on your dissertation (Foss & Waters, 2007).
Defense in the context of the dissertating process refers to the presenting, explaining and defending of your ideas.
It also includes laying out the rationale behind your choices and decisions, for example, regarding theory selection and research methods.
A candidate for an advanced degree must write up his research in a dissertation and then defend it orally before his committee.
The dissertation defense comes after the long and laborious work of writing the dissertation and can be the source of anxiety for the student.
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This will give you a sort of unconscious “muscle memory” of the tongue that will stay with you during the presentation. If there were some major problem with your work, they would almost certainly have told you prior to the defense.
Even if you know what you want to say, the words might not come easily unless you rehearse. Smile, be courteous, and don’t be afraid to interject a touch of humor now and then. Speaking to a handful of professors that I knew well, answering questions concerning the work, genially agreeing that one experiment was worth ten theories, I felt a glow of collegiality.