126

Ask for a different 3rd reviewer. This person clearly does not respect the doctoral process and does not give you a fair chance to gain your PhD. He should be removed from the committee and replaced by someone else who does. You still can work in his comments as far as possible, as content-wise, they are relevant, but they should not be entrusted with ...


108

For a Ph.D., my favorite explanation is this cartoon by Matt Might. In short: a Ph.D. is a measurable contribution to a sum of human knowledge. To be able to answer this question, all you need is an idea of how to describe what you have discovered, and how it fits into the context of work by others that has come before. This is often not easy to answer, ...


94

I suggest that you remember that you are evaluating the work, not its author, or the supervisor, or the university. Give it an honest evaluation, based only on what you see before you. If it doesn't measure up to your standards, then say so. Say why. Make suggestions if you have the time. But honesty is required. One of the reasons, actually, for ...


83

Take a deep breath. You will be OK. You're suffering from impostor syndrome. PhD defenses are traditional formalities. Your advisor wouldn't let you schedule yours if they didn't think you ready. The examiners are more likely to want to know what you did than theory from your first year you have forgotten. When you pass your defense come back here and ...


71

He may be competing with your supervisor. He may not like your general topic. He may not like you. Or, he really believes what he says. Or he wants to test you. You don't know. You have to live with people who confuse what's going on with prejudice- or agenda-coloured "truth". Practically all successful researchers have encountered such put-downs. ...


66

In addition to Pete Clark's excellent answer, I would like to offer a second piece of advice. When you are feeling nervous or "put on the spot" by questions, an excellent first step is to begin by ensuring that you have understood the question. You can say something like: "If I understand correctly, you are asking [paraphrased question] and then go on ...


52

I think it is appropriate to invite an academic to give a lecture on their work at any point, provided the invitation is politely conveyed. Part of politely conveying an invitation is making the invitee feel comfortable declining it. I can think of certain situations in which it is arguable that without further personal knowledge of the invitee, the ...


50

This answer does not respond to subsequent edits to the question. If you submitted a thesis with plagiarism, the typical consequence would be expulsion. You would not get a degree. The good news is you didn't submit it yet, so there might be no consequences. Can you still change your thesis? You need to ask your supervisor. You have admitted there was ...


49

Trying to prepare for any academic examination via stock phrases which are not related to the content of the subject is a very poor idea. You are never expected to know everything about your subject or be able to answer every question related to your work. When you do not know something, an ideal answer is "I don't know, but..." What follows should show ...


48

How the dissertation defense works varies enormously between fields, countries, universities, and departments. Any guidance has to take into account what the expectations are. For example, in the defenses I'm familiar with, there are no common mistakes at all. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone do anything worth calling a mistake. Here, the ...


48

On more than one occasion, a student has pointed out a resource to me that I am already familiar with. In those situations, I always thank the student but don't always mention that I was familiar with it. I don't lie and say that I hadn't seen it before, but see no reason to bring it up (since doing so might make them feel slightly disappointed). If it is ...


45

It would be very rare for such a thing to happen. However, it might depend on the circumstances behind it. If it was nothing more than a misjudgment by the candidate and the committee or some missed (but relatively obscure) information that wasn't included, probably nothing would happen. People would just say "oh well..." and let it go. However, if some ...


41

I suspect your supervisor was thinking about how that student confirmed your results. A classic way this could happen is, if you solved a problem with one method and then the other student solved the same problem with a different method, and your results agree, then the other student has "validated" your results. Naturally, you don't need to have worked with ...


40

Captain Emacs already gave a great answer, I'd like to address this point specifically: I'm cautious to answer back to the professor, because he tells me I am being defensive, but then I am cautious of being too silent, because he tells me I am not contributing enough. I suggest the following strategy: If he criticizes you personally: Ignore it. If he ...


38

Ok. Let the past be the past. You weren't perfect then, you are better now. Maybe not perfect yet, but neither am I, or anyone. The very fact that you can recognize past errors is a sure sign that you are now better at this than you were as a novice scholar. As the comments note, there is little chance the problems will be noticed, or even that they will ...


37

Too new to comment, so following up on CaptainEmacs answer and whether it is "too late" to change reviewers. I have a friend (albeit in the US) who had one reviewer out of three, not approve. And similarly, the reviewer was slow to give details, and asked for unreasonable amounts of not just changes but follow on work to be done before he would accept. His ...


34

Yes, I have seen some similar things in my life and this is indeed a very tricky question. There is a strong tension between our ideals regarding the quality of PhD's (and other degrees) we feel our institutions should be awarding and the practical realities on the ground, which involve messy and awkward decisions that have a direct influence on people's ...


33

The reasons I write all my work in English, regardless of the country in which I work, are threefold: The scientific community works in English English texts are easier to reuse English texts are easier to share and diffuse Reasons 2 and 3 are effectively based on premise number 1. In terms of the ability to reuse my work, more often than never I might ...


33

External examiner = independent, disinterested, and candid expert Universities engage external examiners in order to add the legitimacy of disinterested expert approval. Since the independence of the external examiner is a vital criterion, it is essential that the university not be allowed to dictate the terms on which you, as this disinterested expert, ...


30

The observation that the level of knowledge, skills and achievements shown by someone finishing their PhD varies wildly both among institutions and also among students at the same institution is a very widely made one, but nevertheless is still striking to those who observe it for themselves. At my current institution, we have some graduates that I really ...


30

You talk to your thesis advisor and do what s/he says. S/he'll be responsible for leading (or at least framing the) oral examination and working with the examiners to make sure that you get final approval. None of us know you or your research or the needs of your university or department, the character and reputation of the examiners involved, and so forth -...


30

If it helps, your failing is probably more representative of your committee criticizing your adviser rather than you alone. Let me guess -- you work for a assistant/junior Professor or a tenured professor who has fallen out of political favor within the department? My guess is they are "beating on you" as a proxy for your professor because that is how ...


28

Here's the thing: People's dissertation work is usually not an earth-shattering achievement. I feel that I have just not done enough. I feel my Ph.D. was sorta-kinda enough; and a "strict version of me" might not have accepted it. (in hindsight I developed a better opinion of it. I now feel it was solid enough work.) My work is simple and I also ...


27

Usually the answer to this is formulated in the rules of the institution. In Germany we call this the "Bachelor-/Masterprüfungsordnung" (for BSc and Msc) or "Promotionsordnung" (for a PhD). The one from my institution contains something like Die Promotion dient dem Nachweis der Befähigung zu vertiefter selbständiger wissenschaftlicher Arbeit. which ...


25

Let me turn the question around and answer what I want a PhD candidate to demonstrate during a defense. There are in reality only 3 things: Demonstrate mastery of the subject, i.e., understand where the problem you researched comes from, why it is relevant, what others have already done, and why their approaches are insufficient. That you have made a ...


24

No. While perhaps the committee erred by approving such a thesis, the decision would not be overturned. The same is true for novel work that is later found to have errors. Withdrawing a PhD is very rare, and typically only done in response to academic misconduct (or public relations problems...).


22

You pointed out a dataset and had a 15 minute conversation with your advisor, and now you are expecting credit for it. This certainly does not warrant authorship (even under the most lenient definitions of contribution I can think of), and perhaps not even an acknowledgement. Bringing this up to the department head will not do anything to help since it ...


21

I don't understand what you want; do you want us to contact your supervisor for you? We can't find some magic exception in the rules for you. Either you need to suck it up and accept this won't happen, or you need talk to your supervisor and convince them that this is a good idea. Let me just add that this sounds like a terrible idea to me. UK Ph.D.'s ...


21

I don't think there is any universal answer to this question. I just defended about 8 hours ago, in my case there was a pre-defense and a defense. The pre-defense in our program tells the student what needs to be done to successfully finish the program, the actual public defense is largely ceremonial. When I met in private with the committee they just ...


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