How to Defend a Scientific Thesis?
There is no simple and universal solution or a key to how to defend a scientific thesis. All works are unique, just as students and their defense commission members are. However, we can readily outline some general guidelines and tips for anyone to arrive at this important academic trial as prepared as possible.
Stages of Scientific Thesis Preparation and Defense
The choice of the topic of a scientific thesis is the prerogative of the student. This stage is very important. For a successful choice, one must be guided by one’s own preferences, opportunities, and desire to develop the chosen topic at the appropriate level, the importance of making progress in the chosen scientific area, and the availability of sources of information for working out the theoretical aspects. Students have the right to propose their own formulation of the topic. That is not complete freedom, as you might have thought, but a slight variability within the framework of the chosen topic.
After approving the topic, the supervisor together with the student forms an individual task for the preparation of the scientific thesis and a plan. The individual task is a formal document and no significant deviations from the structure fixed in the scientific thesis plan are allowed. The particular format (or form) of the individual task varies from college to college and, as a rule, is fixed by the scientific defense board.
Tips for Preparing for the Defense of a Scientific Thesis
- We strongly advise preparing illustrative material for all members of the defense commission (as a rule, it includes the head of the department and 3 professors, one of which is a supervisor). The most important tables, graphs, diagrams, and drawings are presented in the illustrative material. Their main purpose is to illustrate in detail and vividly certain statements of the author, therefore it is necessary to prepare this material in time, direct the attention of the commission members to the illustrations, and be ready to answer potential questions.
- Prepare a mini-thesis for your speech. The time of the speech should not be less than 5 and more than 10 minutes (as a rule, 4 pages of A4 14 font Times New Roman). If you have a projector and a screen, you can accompany your presentation with PowerPoint presentation slides. It is necessary to remember the specifics of the preparation and application of this method of presentation.
- Your speech should be logical and concise, so start it with the relevance of the topic, and highlight the structure of the work and the tasks. We recommend spending no more than 20% of the time allocated for the speech on the analysis of theoretical material. Reveal the essence of the available contemporary research on your topic first, relying on the elements of novelty. Please note that the defense commission will pay attention to your knowledge of scientific polemics.
- 70% of the time should be devoted to the formulation of the existing problems of the subject of your thesis, the allocation of available resources and opportunities for their elimination, and ensuring the self-development of the enterprise. In conclusion, it is necessary to note: which of your discoveries and findings have been implemented or are planned for implementation; where else, in your opinion, should the research findings be applied; what is the actual or expected socio-economic efficiency of the proposed solutions (if any).
After the speech, be ready to answer the questions of the members of the defense commission. Their questions may concern either clarification of definitions or aspects of your practical research. In the first case, it is necessary to prepare a reference list in your report, where to write the terms and their meaning, surname, and first name of the scientist on whose definition you rely. In the second case, it is necessary to prepare another reference list with the key statistical data from your research. Do not be afraid of questions, professors cannot know everything; they are experts in some narrow problem and hardly remember the exact definition of any concept by heart.