Dissertation definition, a written essay, treatise, or thesis, especially one written by a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. See more.
I never had a dissertation defense. My department had abolished them sometime before I arrived as a graduate student, and I considered myself lucky compared with friends at other universities who had to endure what I imagined as a painful ordeal. So when the time came, my two faculty readers signed a form approving my dissertation, and I walked the bound manuscript over to the registrar and submitted it. That was that.
The first defense I ever attended was as a professor. Only then did I realize what I had missed. I led a dissertation committee for the 14th time recently, and for the 14th time I was filled with appreciation of the wonderful things that defenses do. The student passed, of course—failed defenses turn up in the United States about as often as hairless porcupines. But the purpose of the dissertation defense goes way beyond whether the committee turns thumbs up or thumbs down.
Dissertation Definition Of Terms
Dissertation Definition Of Terms ..
Universities have been awarding doctorates for centuries longer than the United States has been a sovereign nation, but graduate students have been writing dissertations and defending them for only the past 200 years or so. The practice evolved in the early 19th century in Germany, where so many of the customs and procedures that guide American graduate education first saw light. As William Clark recounts in his thoroughly informative Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University, dissertation defenses were originally conducted in Latin. These "disputations" were held in public and open to all interested parties, a custom that survives now in the form of posted announcements in advance of scheduled dissertation defenses.A dissertation defense in the humanities and social sciences looks and feels different from its scientific counterparts. It resembles an examination in which the candidate is questioned closely about work that the faculty committee has read in advance. Although the structure—a rigorous conversation—may resemble an oral comprehensive exam, the tone departs from that earlier and more stressful ritual. The plan is not to roast candidates on a spit; they are instead gently warmed, encouraged to elaborate on what they know.In the sciences and mathematics, a dissertation defense centers on a performance by the student, who presents his or her findings in a lecture format followed by a question-and-answer session. It's essentially a teaching display, not a shooting gallery in which expert faculty marksmen fire hollow-point questions at the candidate.Graduate students walk a hard line, so it's appropriate that they not enter a dissertation defense with a fear of failure. The Harvard English professor Lawrence Buell proclaimed a widely held sentiment when he wrote to me in an e-mail that "nobody's handlers will let them walk into this event and fail."