The Oral Defense: What is it? & How to Prepare for it with Dr. Scott Burrus
July 06, 2022
Heather Frederick, PhD
In this episode, Dr. Scott Burrus, Provost at United States University chats about the oral defense.
- Keep your presentation clear and concise; use bullet points and not complete sentences.
- Do a dress rehearsal with your chair. Ask them to quiz you on potential questions and record the meeting so you can refer back to it as you prepare.
- Once your chair has approved your presentation, practice it both in front of a live audience and alone until you are so comfortable that you are not relying on notes. This might take 10 trials or 50; you will know when you own your presentation.
- Do not memorize a script. Tell your story using the bullet points on your slides as cues.
- Practice answers to basic questions like:
- What was the most surprising finding?
- What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
- If you had to do this over, what would you do differently?
- If you had an unlimited budget and time was no issue, what would a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods study look like that could logically follow from your results?
- What do you believe is the most important practical implication of your research?
- Summarize your dissertation/doctoral project in 1–3 sentences.
- Before your defense, practice a grounding exercise to calm your mind and body—humming, Apa Japa, or prayer are great choices.
- Don’t be discouraged if you are asked to make some edits to your manuscript post-defense.
- If you do not pass your oral, refer back to Step 3 in the Happy Doc Studnet Handbook (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578333732) and when you can respond rather than react, ask your chair for a meeting so you can strategize your plan for passing the next go-round.
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