Q: What are the key points to write during a dissertation defense?
It’s great that you have reached so far in your dissertation. In fact, if you have been meticulous all along your dissertation writing thus far (from the proposal to the actual dissertation), this part should come from the dissertation and could actually be rather easy to do.
All the same, here’s what you need to know. You would have organized or structured your dissertation into something like the IMRaD structure. Although IMRaD is more geared toward journal articles, its principles also work for theses and dissertations. So, you could structure your defense accordingly. You could broadly cover the following points:
- Reason for choosing the topic
- Significance of the topic for the research area or field
- Research you did leading into the topic and even during your study (for further information and clarification)
- Theoretical framework for basing your research
- Methodology you adopted and reasons for doing so
- Key results relevant to your topic of study (Include additional significant results in case they have implications for future research.)
- Analysis of the findings
- Use of findings for research area, field, and target population
- Further research directions (if any) based on the findings of the study (You may also wish to talk about implications.)
Try not to get into too many details, as the examiners would have a copy of your dissertation and would (ideally) gone through it already. You should write in a manner to help you talk through your dissertation.
Apart from the actual writing/preparation, here are some other points to keep in mind for the defense:
- You should have discussed the dissertation in detail with your supervisor before the defense, leaving no room for doubt on their part. Where supervisors are not involved (either partially or entirely), the defense unfortunately doesn’t go well, as you may read in this story from our Researchers and Their Stories section: I failed my dissertation defense. But I am not a failure.
- For the presentation, you may wish to look up examples of dissertation presentations that may be available online. We have sourced one here to get you started.
- To prepare and deliver the presentation, you may also find these courses helpful:
- If you need to deliver this online (no doubt necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis), you may also wish to factor in technological issues, such as connectivity and lag.
- In case of an online defense, you may also find it worthwhile to go through this story of how other researchers recently defended their dissertations online: How I defended my dissertation online
Hope that helps. The defense is the last but final step toward your degree/doctorate, and you are no doubt both anxious and excited. But again, if you’ve been working at it diligently so far, and work through the points discussed above, you should be able to cross this final step too – hopefully with ease. All the same, here’s the very best for a successful defense!