A dissertation is evaluated by the quality of its prose, the originality of its thought, and the thoroughness of its empirical and theoretical analyses. If you are completing a PhD and attempting to graduate soon, you must be prepared to write a dissertation that accomplishes all these goals and satisfies any lingering methodological or statistical questions from your committee.
After writing a dissertation and having it approved by you academic adviser, you must prepare an oral defense of the work. A dissertation defense usually takes the form of a public presentation of at least one hour, during which the PhD student outlines their research and reviews the content of their paper. Following this, the student remains open to questions and challenges from the members of his or her committee. Once all questions have been addressed in some form or another, the committee convenes in private and determines whether or not to pass the student and grant him or her a PhD.
In order to pass your dissertation defense, you must have a rock solid dissertation paper to submit to your committee. The paper will be read immediately prior to the presentation, after all, and if it is thorough enough it will prevent a number of committee members’ questions and challenges. If you run into a question you cannot answer during your defense, it is helpful to be able to refer the committee to your final draft instead.
In order to pass your dissertation defense and earn your degree, you must have a well written dissertation that meets all your faculty committee members’ requirements. This can be incredibly difficult. It is recommended that you complete at least four to five separate drafts of your dissertation, revising heavily in between each draft. After you have finished a very rough version of your dissertation, submit it immediately to your adviser. Wait a month or two at the absolute maximum, then receive a version with comments.
Respond to your adviser’s comments by editing your work thoroughly. Do not challenge any of his or her suggested edits; trust their judgment, as they have far more experience and academic expertise than you do. Wait patiently while your adviser reviews this draft; they will probably have additional suggested edits. Whenever you receive a draft with critiques, respond by editing as quickly as possible. After several rounds, you will have a dissertation both you and your adviser are happy with.
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