Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Preparation for the Doctoral Defense: Methods and Relation to Defense Outcome and Perception

Version 1 : Received: 28 September 2021 / Approved: 29 September 2021 / Online: 29 September 2021 (09:10:34 CEST)

How to cite: Lantsoght, E.O. Preparation for the Doctoral Defense: Methods and Relation to Defense Outcome and Perception. Preprints 2021, 2021090481 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202109.0481.v1). Lantsoght, E.O. Preparation for the Doctoral Defense: Methods and Relation to Defense Outcome and Perception. Preprints 2021, 2021090481 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202109.0481.v1).

Abstract

The doctoral defense is an important step towards obtaining the doctoral degree. As such, preparing for the event is necessary. Anecdotal evidence highlights that there is a wide variety of ways in which doctoral candidates prepare for the defense. In this work, I want to explore if there is a relation between the way in which a doctoral candidate prepares for the defense and two important aspects of the defense: the outcome of the defense, and the student perception during and after the defense. For this purpose, I first reviewed the literature on the topic of the preparation for the doctoral defense. Then, I carried out an international survey on the doctoral defense and analyzed the data of the 204 completed surveys with respect to the preparation for the defense using quantitative and qualitative methods. The methods I used included the statistical tests of the correlation between on one hand the preparation and on the other hand the defense outcome and student perception. I used inductive thematic analysis of the open-ended survey questions to gain deeper insight in the way candidates prepared for their defense. I found that candidates most often prepare by making their presentation, reading their thesis, and practicing. The most effective measure is the mock defense, followed by a preparatory course. Reading blogs, books, and chapters is a less effective preparation measure. The conclusion of this work is that doctoral candidates need to understand the format of their defense in order to be able to prepare properly, and that universities should explore either individual pathways to the defense or pilots using a mock defense and/or preparatory course to give their doctoral candidates the necessary tools to prepare for their doctoral defense.

Keywords

academia; affective dimension; doctoral education; mock defense; qualitative analysis; quantitative analysis; viva; viva voce

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