Sunday, 14 September 2008

Dutch PhD defense ceremony

I always was interested in learning how the doctor study etc is organised in other countries. Recently I have discovered an interesting post about the Dutch defense process ceremony:

The Dutch thesis defense reminds me most of a traditional American wedding. The defense takes place in a chapel. The players include the defender, two paranimf (the groomsmen role), the promotor (advisor), a Pedel (an official position in the university), who plays a master of ceremonies role and eight opponents. The defender and paranimf are in full tux and tails, the Pedel and full professors in academic gowns and the other opponents in suits. In the audience are the defender's friends and family.

The ceremony starts by the defender giving a short description of this thesis to the audience from a Podium in front of the chapel. Led by the Pedel, the promotors and opponents enter the chapel from the back and march to sit in the choir seats. For forty-five minutes the opponents, one at a time, ask hard questions to the defender about his thesis. At the end the Pedel reenters the chapel marches to the front, hits her staff on the ground and says "Hora Est" (Time has expired). The opponents and promotors march out of the chapel to a discussion room where they vote on the defense and sign the thesis. After that they return back, present the diploma where the promoters read some traditional text and give a short speech.

The ceremony is followed by a receiving line and reception with dinner later on.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Presentation of your work III

Finally before giving the talk to the broader auditorium you should identify what will be typical attendees of the presentation. Depending on that you should use one or another language – set of terms and level of details. Probably beginners will require some extra introduction into the topic while expert will prefer you to proceed directly with the core diving more extra details during the talk.

Real presentation will surely differ from what you though it will be and inexperienced presenter could be even disappointed in the end of ends comparing his talk to what he was going to say or ... may be ... how smoothly it went. Therefore it is advisable, during the training, identify sub parts of the talk that you will be able to through out in order to meet the time frame in case due one or another reason (may be which doesn’t depend on you) your talk is starting to be late. So, you have to split your monologue into sub parts and define what could be the next slide. Text in case you cut something. Moreover you could cut right from the beginning but leave some slides/text to be used in case you proceed faster than it was planned.

- The presentation should be just right by time – no longer no shorter than the time – frame you have.
- Slides should not change too fast.
- Slides should not be overcomplicated containing too much information.
- Try to grab attention of your auditorium and make them to understand what you are talking.

PS: The most killing presentation I have ever heard was given by Chinese or Japan students. Usually the difference in language is so huge that they either don’t understand what they are saying in the foreign language or just read the paper since are afraid to say something wrongly. In the result, the presentation is very monotone and boring. Try to avoid making the same type of presentation and make your talk to be remarkable and memorable. One professor advised to start from a joke to make the talk less official and grab attention. Even my chess trainer said something similar once describing how he was learning in the music school – the most memorable (and so affecting the end mark on the exam) will be the first and the last composition you are going to present ... therefore all compositions to be performed by the same student are arranged so that the best will be in the beginning and in the final of the his performance.