How to prepare for a dissertation defense

If you are preparing a dissertation defense you need to ensure you bring forth all of the passion you have for the topic to the drawing board. But of course that means you first need a topic.

Finding your topic can be a challenge. Inspiration for your topic can come from many places. It is important that you find a topic that you can appropriately address within the page and time constraints of your paper.

Try and steer clear of a topic that is too broad. While you might be ambitious now you will find that in a short while that ambition becomes a burden that you cannot alleviate. You need to be able to thoroughly research your topic and make an argument. This cannot be done if the topic is too large or too small.

Once you have your topic it is time to start writing. This does not mean writing the final product. It just means keeping records of thoughts and notes. Many people find that keeping notes from the very start makes the entire process much simpler as you progress. Keep a record of:

  • Your initial thoughts
  • Any points from the sources you are reviewing that may prove helpful
  • Your initial observations and impressions
  • Any new ideas that develop during the course of the project
  • Problems that you face

As you keep these notes you want to keep corresponding records. You should keep bibliographic information on hand too so that you always know the source of your information. If you familiarize yourself with the format style required of you at the start you can keep bibliographic notes that adhere to that style. This will ensure you have notes that are ready to insert into a final bibliography when the time comes. Even if you don’t use the format required at the start you should note all bibliographic information in the same style. This will at least keep your notes consistent. Make sure you always write out the bibliographic details for print outs or photocopies. As you write down the information keep a corresponding word document for your bibliography. Insert information in alphabetical order as you find it.

As you research and keep research notes it is best to list when you read each source. If you are struggling remember that there is software available that can help you appropriately insert the bibliographic data.

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