Published on March 6, 2014
Surviving Both the Proposal and Final Dissertation Defenses Mike Ahearne (Houston) & John Hulland (Georgia) AMA DocSIG Presentation, February 21, 2014
Agenda • Committee considerations • The dissertation proposal • Managing the final defense
What to Look For From Your Committee Members • Willingness to devote sufficient time to review and give feedback on drafts • Committed to seeing you get done in a timely manner • Provide some form of “added value”, be it methodological, conceptual, substantive, supportive and/or reputational • Good synergy with other members and works well with the chair
The Dissertation Proposal • A formal step in the dissertation • Encompasses full scope of dissertation • Timing – Not before you are ready to discuss – in some detail – all facets of dissertation (e.g., all three essays) – Don’t wait too long! – At a minimum (pre-AMA) – Rely on advice of your chair
The Dissertation Proposal - 2 • Typically involves a full presentation of proposal, followed by Q&A • Often open to the public • Formal decision by committee – If approved, represents a “contract” between you and committee – Good chair will not allow student to defend proposal that is not solid – If not approved, push for specific, detailed feedback – Represents an opportunity to cement committee commitment
The Final Dissertation Defense • The final formal step • Typically involves a full presentation of the dissertation, followed by Q&A • Often open to the public • Formal decision by committee
Managing the Final Defense • Plan to have a final draft version of the dissertation in (internal) committee members hands at least three weeks before submission date • Submission is often 2-3 weeks before actual defense date • This will give you time to make final changes (if necessary), and it escalates committee member commitment
Managing the Final Defense - 2 • Work with your chair to decide when it’s time to schedule a defense • Do not ignore her/his advice!
The Defense Day • Accept the fact that you will be nervous • If you have chosen the committee (and especially the chair) wisely, they will be supportive • Expect them to challenge you during the defense • Remember, if you have taken true ownership of your topic and dissertation, you are the expert
Afterwards • If successful – Congratulations! – Expect to be asked to make some changes – Make sure you fulfill all of the bureaucratic requirements of your institution – Enjoy yourself (for a little while), you deserve it!
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