miscalculated

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 15, 2002
174
0
0
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Hi everyone, I have my PhD thesis defense coming up in 3 weeks. Wonder if anyone who's been through it already has any tips? My main concern is being motivated now that I'm starting peds tomorrow. Thanks.
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
Staff member
Administrator
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Oct 12, 2004
18,916
4,154
481
Florida/Fellowship
Status
Fellow [Any Field], Attending Physician
Hi everyone, I have my PhD thesis defense coming up in 3 weeks. Wonder if anyone who's been through it already has any tips? My main concern is being motivated now that I'm starting peds tomorrow. Thanks.
How far along have you gotten in preparing for it?

My suggestion is that you make yourself a timeline with tasks to do each week and day. Start by going to the grad school and department websites to find out what their requirements are (i.e., how long the talk has to be, do you have to post flyers inviting the public to come, when do you have to give your committee members their copies of your thesis by, etc.) That will help you be organized and get everything done on time.

Don't blow off all those stupid little requirements from the grad school, no matter how irrelevant they may be and how tempted you are to ignore them. Hell hath no fury like a grad school bureaucrat scorned. :hungover:

Congrats on finishing, and best of luck with your defense. :)
 

Neuronix

Total nerd
Staff member
Administrator
15+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2002
12,919
2,006
581
the beach
Status
Attending Physician
Wonder if anyone who's been through it already has any tips?
Make sure you're defended and deposited before you go back to clinics. I went back to clinics on Pediatrics and it was a bit of a nightmare.

Oops... You're going back before defending. :( Not sure what to tell you. Who knows what curve-balls you might be thrown. I guess there's always 4th year to make revisions and fix things up :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: gbwillner

Shifty B

10+ Year Member
Aug 13, 2008
452
96
271
Status
Attending Physician
My only advice is that you should not overthink it too much. It's basically another committee meeting with more intrigue surrounding it. If your other committee meetings have been going well and you've been getting through them, then you can guess what your defense will be like.

The defense is more of a ceremonial activity anyway. By now, you should pretty much know now that you're going to pass and there is really nothing that you can do in the next 3 weeks to make a difference. Show up prepared, answer all the questions to the best of your ability, and that's it.

Rest well knowing that people who are not going to finish their PhD never make it this far. I know, people sometimes "fail" their defense, but all this means is that the committee asks you to make some revisions, maybe do a few more experiments, blah blah blah, same old story...
 

RxnMan

Who, me? A doctor?
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2006
4,112
15
141
Somewhere in time and relative dimensions in space
Status
Medical Student
Hi everyone, I have my PhD thesis defense coming up in 3 weeks. Wonder if anyone who's been through it already has any tips? My main concern is being motivated now that I'm starting peds tomorrow. Thanks.
I've defended two theses (sp?), though neither was a PhD.

Write a good presentation. This is your show, you can take as long as you like and use as many slides as you want, so be easy on your audience: don't crowd the slide with tons of graphs. Use simple, legible slides - they should be essentially bullet points for you to elaborate on, not to read off word-for-word. Put your more interesting results early - show them off, and you want to show them before the committee falls asleep. Cite everything you should. Practice until you have your transitions down and don't get flustered when you make a mistake. Make everything flow logically.

Remember that you know more about this than anyone. Remember the reasons why you chose the experiments you did, the controls you chose, all that. Expect your committee to question your thought process and be able to defend it. Know what weaknesses are inherent to your experiments and why they do or do not matter.

Expect that the discussion will get to a point where you'll be asked to "do the next step" or discuss how new info X will impact your interpretation of your findings. Have ideas of where to go next, but don't stress. Committee members want to know your thought process and that you can integrate new info and take your project further.
 

Neuronix

Total nerd
Staff member
Administrator
15+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2002
12,919
2,006
581
the beach
Status
Attending Physician
Now I remember that about two months before I defended I was really lucky to attend a conference about how to give effective presentations. It really changed my style a lot, and I think my thesis defense presentation really wowed a lot of the audience. If you have such an option, it might be really helpful.
 
Nov 7, 2009
21
1
0
Status
Know all the holes in your project and preemptively generate explanations. I'd even make powerpoint slides and put them at the end to use to help you explain things you "know" they will ask. Every project has holes and problems. Know yours and don't let them control the questioning. Address them prophylatically so they have nothing to ask about it.

I agree with dotting all the Ts and crossing all the Is. My institution seemed to have so many bizarre requirements (lots of paperwork, format checks, copies of dissertation, etc). Make sure you have everything you need.

Know your committee members. If you have, for example, a pharmacologist and you did drug studies, you had better know all the pharmacology associated with that drug. etc...

Relax. If your committee said you are ready, you must be.
 
  • Like
Reactions: gbwillner

strangeglove

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2006
708
89
171
Status
Attending Physician
What I've heard (and presumably experienced, though I will never know) is that if you are being allowed to defend, you are basically done. There will be revisions, no doubt, but your committee wouldn't let you defend if they didn't feel like you were ready to do so. It would make them look very bad if they didn't let you pass.
 
Apr 16, 2016
9
2
1
Status
MD/PhD Student
What I've heard (and presumably experienced, though I will never know) is that if you are being allowed to defend, you are basically done. There will be revisions, no doubt, but your committee wouldn't let you defend if they didn't feel like you were ready to do so. It would make them look very bad if they didn't let you pass.
.. my committee agreed to a defense date (which my PI recommended), and then my PI decided to "postpone" it and make sure I do a crapload more work before we can even reset a defense date... It's really not over until all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted... I got my hopes up too early and got crushed.