Originally Posted by 4410
What are your experiences with the Dissertation and Oral Defense? I have completed three MS degrees and Theses but the Dissertation process is very labor intensive with vagueness and confusions during the process. The MS Theses process was more collaborative and student friendly than the Doctoral Dissertation process. I hate to be critical about this process but to some extent it is a humbling or negative experience and there seems to be some limits of the process that almost parallels verbal abuse or even verbal bullying by committee members and/or faculty. One of my committee members spend a good thirty minutes during a review of verbiage of a specific use of a word I used. At one point I was told my literature review was too long to the point of not having a narrow focus. I shortened my literature review, so at another meeting I was informed that the literature review needs to be more broadly based.
The mental gymnastics or "Mind Rape" that happens during this process...Is it really necessary? I've worked on this for some two-three years and my proposal is officially approved but now I have a new faculty member engaged in the process who believes I should look at a different research topic and he wants me to change my title and develop a different survey with different questions.
Has anybody given up at this point in time....you almost need to have an attorney representing you and a Judge presiding during these meetings with Dissertation Committee members. Does being a Dissertation Committee member allow these individuals too much power so they feel it is their right to be rude and obnoxious?
I am not really certain how this process works in professional psychology schools, but I have heard it is quite different from dissertation defenses in Boulder-model programs. My experience in a PhD program was a positive one. It took over a year to complete the entire project (fast compared to a lot of people I know...some people spread it out over multiple years), but the proposal defense and the final defense itself were quite cordial. I think that the several committee members understand how much work goes into conducting original research, but want to put you through your paces appropriately and challenge you. They assume that you are operating at the highest level of academic rigor, and will hold your performance to that standard.
I know some have referred to it as "hazing" before, but really they just want to be sure that you know your stuff. It is a rite of passage. Sometimes you have to do some revisions, and if you can't answer questions adequately, you may have to do the defense over and make some changes. In reality though, you spend so long creating and implementing the study that you know it inside and out compared to the committee. Most people I know feel it goes well.