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Thesis Defense


One of the major components of the thesis project is the thesis defense, in which the writer goes before a group of experts in the field and answers any questions they may have concerning the thesis. The experts may ask for clarification on certain points or for explanations of why the writer chose to maneuver the argument in a certain direction, and they may openly challenge any of the writer's conclusions.

Students should prepare for their thesis defenses as thoroughly as possible. While students probably do know their thesis subjects quite well already, studying and practicing preparatory strategies can help ease the stress and the factor of doubt surrounding the thesis defense process.

First, students should schedule plenty of time between the thesis's completion date and the thesis defense in order to brush up on the material that the thesis contains; ideally, they should allow at least a month to study.

Second, students should ask their major professors whether there are any weaknesses in the thesis that the experts will probably question. Major professors have observed and have participated in many thesis defenses, and they can probably predict fairly accurately which areas the experts will choose to scrutinize.

Third, a student should try to find some professors, friends, or classmates who are willing to read the thesis and ask questions about it. Ideally, the readers should know something about the general subject area of the thesis in order to be able to understand the terminology and the concepts, but even casual readers may ask questions that help the student realize what areas of the thesis he or she needs to study. If the student can organize a mock thesis defense, it may help prepare him or her psychologically for the format and intensity of the situation, and having practiced the scenario may make the thesis defense itself seem less daunting.

Thesis defenses can present quite a challenge, but if students prepare sufficiently ahead of time, they may have a much less stressful experience.


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