Defending your thesis... to study? or not to study?

So, I'm t-6 days to D-day (yes, it took them 3 months to get me a defence date... no, I do not want to talk about it yet.. there is a big post on the mess of all that brewing), and the question I keep getting is "what are you doing to prepare for your defence?". My answer so far has been mostly "Um, I have some slides?" with a subtext in my head of "I wrote the damn thesis, I think I know what's in there". But it's started to freak me out. I guess I'll re-read a little about a few peripheral topics, but beyond that and checking my talk for timing, I don't think I'm going to do anything besides set an alarm to make sure I get up. I hate studying (reading & learning things, that's different), it makes me nervous, and nervous is the last thing I want to be.

So here's my question to you internet scientists out there:

What (did you/will you/think you will/see others) do to prepare?


EthidiumBromide said...

Good luck!!

While I'm ages away, I can't imagine that I'll do anything, aside from putting together my slides. We have to give an hour long talk that is open to everyone, so putting together my talk will serve as my "refresher" of everything, and that would be about it. You're right, if you write the thesis, then you know it better than anyone else. I'm kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of a person... I never practice my talks or presentations and always ace them, so I doubt I would do anything different for my defense.

Around here, the defense mostly focuses on the actual written thesis -- so there really aren't any questions coming out of left field for which one would need to prepare. Thankfully.

Kelly said...

Likewise, good luck! :)

Here in New Zealand, the defense is more a conversation than a presentation. I was in a small meeting room (comfortably holds about 6) with 3 other people - my main supervisor, a faculty member from a different department who served only to chair the committee, and the oral examiner who was a friend of my main supervisor. I got asked to describe my work, and then I got asked a list of questions, mostly from the OE. The OE was in a totally different field so most of the questions were broad-strokes ones I was easily able to handle.

For preparation, I reread my thesis, though this didn't actually help that much because my defense was only 3 months after I handed in. Usually it's more like 6 months. I specifically read up on the latest papers on the mechanisms I had been studying, though nobody asked me about this. I didn't really get any left-field questions either.

My main advice to you is to be confident in your work, but not arrogant, and to project this confidence when you give your talk and answer questions. This will go a long way towards telling your examiners that you understand your work and its meaning.

Again, good luck, and please let the blogosphere know how it all went! :)

Albatross said...

Good luck!

I'll be defending mine in about 20 days(hopefully). We have a public lecture and a defense so have to do an hour long seminar for 40-50 people in the department. Then just the committee gets to grill you. I don't plan on studying anything but what I wrote and maybe a few papers that relate to questions I know non-committee members might have after the seminar. Of course, I'm not yet done writing.....

physics*chick said...

Thanks all.

I'm not really "studying", but over the course of the weekend have come up with some possible "left field" questions and have just been brushing up on those. Probably none of it will come in handy for the defence, but it doesn't hurt anyway.

Here the defence is open to everyone. The format is a 20 min talk followed by whatever grilling the committee decides to do (usually a couple of questions from each person and read from the external report) and then a few minutes to open up the floor to the audience for questions. I actually hate giving talks to small groups... it just feel silly to me, and so I tend to get giddy then, so I'm glad it is open and I know at least a few people will be there.

And then after there will be bubbly and much celebrating (uh, or commiserating I suppose if it goes really badly... but I think not)!

Now... if I can just get rid of this damn sore throat...

Moose http://withthoughtslikemine.blogspot.com/ said...

I'm Australian... We don't have to do a defence. Which is bad since we don't get the experience. But good because we don't have the worry :). Hope it went well.

Thesis Writers said...
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