How did you prepare mentally for your defence?
While a defence is certainly an intimidating proposition, I found it helpful to remind myself that it is a unique opportunity to share my research and passion for the work with colleagues and faculty. As much as they are trying to probe your knowledge about the topic, it’s important to remember that they are also genuinely interested in learning about the project and how it advances our scientific understanding.
How much time did you dedicate to your preparation?
Although the preparation of the thesis took several months, I dedicated just over 2 weeks to the preparation of the defence presentation.
How often did you visit/consult with members of your committee?
I was in constant communication with my supervisor during my defence preparation. This included personal meetings to ask questions, sending a copy of my dissertation for feedback and presenting my defence to others beforehand.
Any words on how to prepare for your external committee member?
I found it particularly useful to do a quick search of their research and interests. This allowed me to craft my presentation to include details they may not be aware of, as well as anticipate some of the questions they would likely ask and the issues they may raise for further research.
What kind of thesis format did you choose and why?
I decided to write a sandwich thesis mainly because I had already prepared a few manuscripts for my projects. Once I was given permission to write I discussed it with my supervisor and we decided that a sandwich thesis was the best option. It also helped me prepare the last manuscript that I was working on.
Now that it is all said and done, is there anything you would have done differently in regards to your defence preparation, or thesis write up?
If I could do it again, I would have liked to begin writing my draft earlier than I did. This has more to do with the way I write than anything else, but I would have liked to spend more time focusing on the broader scope of my project and less on specific structure of certain paragraphs and sentences.
Do you have any suggestions to help relieve stress when writing and preparing to defend? What did you do to relax?
I remembered some of the supportive and motivational statements my supervisor (Dr. Boris Sakic) would share with me before presentations. In particular, he would remind me that even as a graduate student, I will likely be more knowledgeable on the topic that any other member of the audience. That always gave me some additional confidence when I was feeling nervous about a presentation.
What did you do immediately after your defence?
I spent some time with my family, friends, and my supervisor.
Any words of advice for students defending in the near future?