How to Defend Your PhD Dissertation Remotely

Defend PhD Dissertation
Digital protections quickly became the norm, thanks to the coronavirus-related social distancing and stay-at-home orders. But neither are they new. They have been zooming and otherwise practically defending work for years, graduate students who can't be on campus, or whose committee members cannot be there. Post-pandemic as to whether virtual defenses could catch on, at least as an option. Virtual presentations offer dissertation help to students who are away from campus and those who have begun working on other positions.

The new directives from the University that warn all staff to telework and avoid coming to the campus directly affect the defenses of thesis and dissertation. Graduate Schools offered Remote Defense Emergency Policies. Besides these strategies, we give some guidance to all participants in the defense out there. We know these are difficult times and we hope this guide will help the students and members of their committee plan for effective defenses.

Tips For Remote PhD Dissertation:
Here are some things you need to do before you start your remote PhD dissertation defense. Just make sure you have done it all before. Let’s see, some important things that need to be done before you go for the real deal:

Conferencing Site:
This is the first and most important step. Your whole dissertation defense will depend on it. Make sure you check how to use the video conferencing app of your choosing (WebEx, Zoom) or any other. Download it, and check it beforehand. Negligence in this step can cost you bitter.

Train in setting for video conferencing. You would have practiced anyway, but it's necessary to practice not only in front of your mirror but also in this specific setting. This step is significant because it will make things easier for you when the real defense time comes.

Backup Plan:
Before the start of the defense, share your slides with your counselor. Ensure that someone else has them, and if necessary, could theoretically share them. Because, there is always a chance of your losing slides. So, at this time, it can prove to be a safe contingency strategy. Get ready with your backup plan. Test the procedure with your advisor for you to go outside of the room during the debate by the committee.

Set Up Your Physical Space:
  • Make sure there's no glare from the sunshine or any other light behind you, but also make sure there's enough light to be seen without a shadow.
  • Consider sitting in a peaceful place without having to interrupt so many things behind you.
  • Exposure to two monitors will make the process a little easier; when you show the slides on one monitor and then see committee members on another monitor, you will see reactions.
  • If anyone with whom you reside attends the defense, expect to use a separate device or telephone with a separate webcam; preferably, they will either be in a separate space or at least sufficiently far from you to prevent microphone and speaker input.
  • Invite confreres and colleagues. This is still a public case and the pinnacle of your degree job. You may not be able to go out and celebrate, but having friends and colleagues present will prevent the defense from becoming anticlimactic, which will help you rehash all the highlights later.

Then there are certain things you should ensure at the defense as follows:
  • Sit and make sure your camera has a clear shot of you from the knees up while making the presentation for your academic essay. You'd be standing in a live defense, but that won't work here as you won't be as visible (you don't want to be defending from the neck down all of a sudden right).
  • Even if you sit and communicate through video-conferencing, the gestures and nonverbal communication still matter. Think about how, for example, you'll stress or punctuate some of the key points in your delivery. Manoeuvres can work, or realistic breaks can work too. But, just like in a face-to-face conversation, practice avoiding all those verbal fillers like um, ah, you know, that clutch your contact.
  • Remember to look at the camera while speaking (and not at the screen you're showing, particularly when using two monitors).

Find a way to ensure that the questioning occurs equally during the public question-and-answer period; you may consider asking people to go in order or asking people to bring questions into the chat feature so that all questions can be answered in a reasonably organized manner. Most platforms have the "hand raise" feature. With confidence and you will nail it.
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