Recreating the drama around your PhD Thesis Defense

Recreating the drama around your PhD Thesis Defense

Ask any PhD student about their thesis experience, and he or she will have a story to tell about their thesis defense. More than the research project, it is the story of the thesis defense that can incite the most extreme kind (positive or negative) of the reactions.

My personal experience to completing my PhD thesis was certainly similar to an amateur climbing a mountain for the first time. Life, since then, has been normal after being appointed as an assistant lecturer in a renowned university. The mighty “Everest” rose between my thesis proposal defense and my thesis defense. I do not know the reason, but some perception of my thesis proposal resulted in it being deemed insufficient by the review committee of my university. Although this felt like a “major” explosion for me, it turned out to be just a small “testing” explosive compared to what was to follow.

Following the proposal rejection, my thesis defense was also failed, probably due to the quantitative nature of my research study, which basically comprised of statistical analysis of collected data from surveyed population of university students coming from low income or single parent homes.

This should have effectively ended my pursuit of PhD credentials, however the review committee decided against it, subject to me agreeing to change my research methodology from quantitative to qualitative mode. The committee also decided that only Dr. Andrews can be my guide and mentor for my new research path. Luckily, Dr. Andrews agreed to work with me in this unforeseen scenario.

Thanks to him (and perhaps my own desperate situation), we bonded well over the next 18 months and even thought me to be “exceptionally talented” to get through with my research. His profile as a strong advocate for PhD students and his chair experience made sure that I did not have to make any major “mindset” changes to attempt the research project.

For the next 18 months, I worked hard on my qualitative methodology of research and ended up with a much better understanding of the research topic. Once the research project was completed, I had little trouble getting my research proposal approved. Following that, I worked on the project dissertation and felt more comfortable discussing my points with Dr. Andrews despite my statistical approach to problem solving.
This time around, I was much more relaxed and prepared during my thesis defense, and even joked a few times with the committee members. All this (and more) is thankfully due to the mentoring and trust placed on me by the versatile Dr. Andrews.

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