Writing a dissertation is an arduous task. But since you’re here, it’s safe to say that you’ve completed the mammoth task of writing and submitting it. Now all that’s left is to defend your dissertation and all the hard work you’ve done. Let’s get right on to it!


What is a defense?

If you’re in the process of writing a dissertation for you’re master’s or PhD, you’re likely to have heard the term “dissertation defense”. But what exactly is it?

A dissertation defense is a presentation that you give to a panel of experts in your field so that they assess your understanding of the project (and the field) you’re working on. This panel generally consists of your thesis advisors and occasionally other professionals (academics) working in your field.

Your university would generally provide you with a time limit for the defense, within which you will present your research and be asked questions by the examiners. The defense is also an opportunity for the room to think about the project critically, particularly in terms of its relevance and application in a larger body of scholarship.


How can I condense my dissertation into a presentation? 

Condensing a 100-page thesis into a 20-minute presentation certainly feels like a difficult task. But with just some focus and considerations, you can easily decide what you must focus on. Generally speaking, you can use the structure of your dissertation itself to base your presentation on.

Start with a title slide. On the title slide, add the details that you’ve added to the title slide. This includes your name, credentials, and the title of the dissertation. You could also add the date of the presentation.

Don’t dwell too much on the abstract and the literature review.  Summarize these two sections as succinctly as you can, because the majority of your defense should be about your research. Ideally, this part of the presentation should be a segue into the research process.

Draw attention to why you’re carrying out your research. Delve a little into the topic history and background, so that you can eventually connect to it your research, and establish your work’s relevance in the field.

Talk about theoretical and conceptual influences: Talk briefly about the conceptual framework of your thesis, and the theoretical influences behind it.

State your research question clearly. All of this should ultimately lead to your research question. State it clearly, and explain the terms and jargon used in it, the same way you have in the dissertation itself. If there are sub-questions, elaborate on those too.

Focus on methods and methodology. Delve deeply into how you carried out the research. What were the methods used, and what was your rationale behind using it/them? Explain why your chosen methods are relevant to your project and its aims.

Move on to finding and observations. Talk about what came out of your research. What did you learn from it? What can be derived from the findings?

Establish how its relevance for future research. Talk about the implications of the work you’ve done for future research in your field, and why should people pay attention to them. If you have a list of policy recommendations or an action plan for your own research, talk about that as well.

We hope this article helps you defend your thesis with ease! Keep following PaperTrue for regular articles on academic writing and publishing.