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Prospectus Defense

Lots of folks (including me) are defending their dissertation prospecti at the end of this semester...what kind of experiences, hints, dos/donts, do folks who have already defended have for us young dissertaters?


The best defense is a multipart conversation, rather than an interrogation. Do your best not just to answer the questions posed, but also to pose your answers in a way that invites other committee members to join the conversation.

You are doing well if you are 1/5th of the conversation; if four committee members talk half the time and you talk the other half, do what you can to change that. Let them leave feeling like the highlight was talking to each other, rather than examining you.

. . .

And for goodness sake, distribute copies of the completed diss early enough that they can read at their leisure and ask informed questions. Committee members given one week to read 180 pages ask dumb questions or subconsciously hostile ones.

If I had to circulate copies of my dissertation at my prospectus defense, I'd probably pee my pants for 1/5 of that conversation. ;)

You caught me. Misread!