Defense Complete

Wow, does it ever feel good to write that. It’ll feel even better, way way better, once I can also say that everything is submitted and signed off on.

Okay, so how did it go? Well, nerve wracking. I could barely eat for the morning (even though I kept telling myself it was okay). I think the presentation went quite well (at least the comments I got about it suggested that everyone was able to follow). (We start with an hour seminar before the defense (although technically it doesn’t have to be the same day). If your committee comes to this, you don’t have to give a short talk at the start of the defense. If they can’t make it, your defense starts with a 20 minute recap presentation.)

Next up is the defense. The room we were in kind of sucked. And part of the issue with it, was that when I was in the hall, I could hear lots of their conversation. Not everything, and not everyone. But bits and pieces, which is much worse, because you don’t get the full picture.

During the actual questioning period, I had some hits and some misses (or at least I think so). I really hate questions that you know are trying to lead you to an answer. Because I can never seem to follow the trail of thought in the examiners head and just get more confused. Which probably makes me look a bit idiotic. I also found I had to say a bunch of times “Sorry, I’m not following.” One of my examiners wanted to ask a lot of questions, but thankfully eventually it tapered off and my supervisor barely asked any (in return).

In the end, I passed with revisions, which is the most common (and most expected) outcome. And it was what I was expecting going in. Although I was hoping for less revisions than I ended up with – I have what feels like a lot to do. Although, the words “a lot” don’t really give much detail, because it’s kind of hard to know. I don’t have to redo any experiments or any of the main analysis (thankfully). Nor do I need to create new data (run any experiments). So in that way, I count myself lucky.

I do need to do a ton of editing. I re-read it the night and morning of my defense, and was appalled (seriously, appalled) at the number of errors I came across. Lots of stupid things. A sentence with no ending punctuation, a list of three items introduced by stating that it contained “two items”, missing spaces between periods and the first letter of the next sentence, etc.

I also have a list of about nine items that I need to go through and fix/add. Some include just clarifying some of the terminology I use. Others include adding more information about some of the experiments (specifically the limitations) and more details on exactly what we were testing for and whether are results confirmed the hypothesis.

Ever since high school, I’ve been told that I’m a very colloquial writer. And it’s true. It’s good in some situations (like a blog) or when I’m trying to explain something to someone who doesn’t understand. It’s not so great for scientific writing, as my writing often comes across as too relaxed and imprecise. So these are areas I need to tighten up as I edit.

I’m hoping both my supervisor and I can find the time to get them all hammered out this week (deadline for submission is April 2nd if I want the June convocation). When I read it right before, I noted the errors I found, and I’ve since put them in. I have a couple of more copies to go through (from some of the examiners), and then the list. It’s going to be a busy week.


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