Defense etiquette

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by dantay, Nov 12, 2006.

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  1. fantasty

    fantasty 10+ Year Member

    So, I'm submitting my first deposit of my dissertation tomorrow ( :eek: ). My defense is coming up, and I'm ashamed to say that I haven't attended anyone else's defense yet.

    A couple of quick questions...

    Food or no food? For a few recent defenses in my dept, the student brought bagels. But, my friends who are close to defending say that this isn't the norm in their depts. My defense is at 1 pm so I thought coffee and bagels might not be a bad thing though.

    Open? I realize that the talk is open to the public, and a few students wanted to come (mostly just to see how it goes, for their own experience - not because the subject material is so fascinating). But, I feel funny asking specific friends to come, especially when it's not their field and will probably just bore the hell out of them (same goes for my other half).

    Finally, gifts? Is it commonplace to give anything to your committee members? I feel like they deserve a "thank-you" more than just a mention in the acknowledgements, because they were very helpful, constructive, and patient with me. I only mean a small token (something like a coffee mug or something small related to the college). But, I also do not want to be tacky if that's not a common thing to do.

    PS: It should be obvious that I'm social inept and overthink things way too much. ("Does this seem genuine or does it seem like I'm sucking up?", "Are people going to feel obligated to come if I ask them?") I'm such a spaz :laugh:
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  3. dr.z

    dr.z 10+ Year Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Detroit, MI
    I took cookies and water to my defense.

    I invited people that wanted to come eventhough not all of them were scientists.

    I didn't give any gifts to my committee members. I am planning to give all of them bound copy of my thesis. I heard this was something that should be done to be polite.
  4. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Congrats. :hardy:

    I think coffee and bagels would be very appropriate. I had sandwiches and snacks plus drinks at my defense.

    If you want them to be there, ask them to come. I made my mom, who didn't even go to college and knows absolutely nothing about chemistry, come to mine for moral support. This is your day. If you want your friends and your partner to be there for you, tell them.

    No, I'd nix the gifts. This is their job, and they may not even be permitted to accept gifts. What you could do would be to write them all thank you notes if you wanted. I actually went and thanked all of my committee members in person.

    It's understandable. This is a tense time of your life. You're almost there though, and you're going to make it. So hang in there. :)
  5. chrisisinnocent

    chrisisinnocent Elbow deep 7+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2006
    New York City
    I didn't bring any food at my defense but coffee seems ok. I wouldn't bother with a full spread.
    Tell people you would want to come. Don't get upset if they don't.
    No gifts but a CD with a copy of your dissertation for their records and a thank you card would be good.
  6. Your thesis defense day is your day. It's all about you, you, and you.

    Food? I didn't bring any food or drinks to my defense seminar. We went out for drinks afterwards. My parents were there and tried to give me a guilt trip for not providing refreshments. Of course, my fellow labmates countered that providing refreshments was in no way some kind of requirement or obligation. You shouldn't feel obligated to bring any food/drink items unless you want to.'s totally up to you. Nobody is gonna fault you if you don't and you might make an extra friend if you do. But you're gonna have enough on your mind on that day to worry about any of that.

    Open? I thought all defense seminars were open to the public. Where I was, there were flyers posted in the hallways advertising the seminar for everyone to see. Of course, what happens after you give the seminar is not open to the public...this "closed door" session mainly takes place right after the public seminar and involves you, your boss, and your thesis committee members to discuss your performance and revisions to your thesis.

    Gifts? Whoever said that giving bound copies of the thesis is a good idea...well, yeah I agree and I think that should suffice. No extra gifts to your committee members are in order. I did give a gift to my boss but that was because he went above and beyond the call of duty when serving as a mentor. It wasn't an extravagant gift though...just a token of much appreciation.

    Anyways...congratulations on finishing. As a mudphud who has probably done strong research to get to this point, I'm more than certain that this defense seminar will be a mere formality. Just get through it, don't say anything stupid (i.e., embarrassing Freudian slips), and be sure to celebrate and get liquored up after it's over. Cuz what's coming up next for you isn't all that pleasant.
  7. Doctor&Geek

    Doctor&Geek 25 > 5 / 15 < 8 Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

    Mar 25, 2002
    Dang, you're quick dante :D.
  8. fantasty

    fantasty 10+ Year Member

    Quick? Half my entering class finished last year. We're supposed to shoot for Feb-Mar, but my boss is trying to kick me out of the nest. After the festering pile of dung I turned out today, I think I understand why ;)
  9. fantasty

    fantasty 10+ Year Member

    Thanks for the suggestions, btw. And, yes - I realize that it's advertised, but I'm not expecting a big turn-out of pharmacoepidemiologists. Plus, I just gave my talk at the dept seminar a few weeks ago, so interested folks could have caught it then.

    I need a nap.
  10. DogFaceMedic

    DogFaceMedic Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 18, 2006
    Bound copy of the thing is almost a necessity.
    If your committee was helpful, then I don't think a token of appreciation is out of line, but certainly not required -- unless your committee is a bunch of aristocratic Europeans who expect fielty and homage as liege Lord. I had one of those on my initial committee and it was one of my greatest triumphs to engineer him off the committee when he took a sabbatical. I had a committee of well respected scholars that liked each other.
  11. Hurricane

    Hurricane Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Aug 14, 2005
    The Metroplex
    Totally. My department put up fliers and the MSTP program coordinator always sent out an email, so invites weren't necessary.

    Also the department always had a reception later in the afternoon in your honor, so refreshements weren't necessary either. I did, however, bring some pastries and coffee to the private committee meeting that occurs after the public defense.

    As for gifts, they all got bound copies. And my lab bought me a kickass wok. :D

    Congrats on finishing!
  12. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Hey dante,

    Are you done with the defense yet? Let us know how it went/goes!
  13. Hard24Get

    Hard24Get The black sleepymed 7+ Year Member

    I brought a nice spread to all of my thesis committee meetings, but no food to the defense since it was in a "no food" auditorium and it seemed awkward to feed the committee and not the audience.

    For whatever reason, family and friends like that stuff. My mom, dad, and aunt all flew from Cali to Philly to attend, and my engineering hubby came also. Just forward them the adveritisng email if you don't want people to feel obligated.

    Though I did not give my committee anything AT THE DEFENSE, where it seems suspect, after they passed me and signed off on everything I made gift baskets containing goodies and a bottle of wine and I sealed a nice thank you letter inside. I also ordered a basket for my external reviewer at Oxford from a UK website. They really liked them, and I felt it was a great way to "end" the relationship.

    This is an appropriate time to be a spaz
  14. fantasty

    fantasty 10+ Year Member

    Next Monday. Gar. I expect that I'll need a lot of bourbon the rest of that week.
  15. ThatOne

    ThatOne New Member 2+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2006
    Good luck today!
  16. beary

    beary Pancytopenic Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Best wishes on your defense Dante!! I wish I could be there, and congrats!! :D

    I didn't do anything at all for my committee members. No bound copy of my thesis or anything. Heck, even I don't have a bound copy of my thesis. Didn't bring food. I brought some champagne and stuff to the lab afterwards.

    Anyway, best wishes to you!! :luck:
  17. fantasty

    fantasty 10+ Year Member

    Over all, not too bad. Lots of revisions and they want to have another meeting before they sign off on it, but the public defense is over and my return to the wards won't be delayed. Good enough for me.
  18. Ecthgar

    Ecthgar Evil Genius 5+ Year Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    secret underground lair
    Awesome man........congratulations! Can't hope for any better than that!
  19. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Lifetime Donor SDN Administrator 10+ Year Member

    Congrats! :hardy:

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