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Dissertation Series: Common Mistakes To Avoid When Presenting Your Conclusion


You are so close to your doctorate degree you can almost taste it. All that hard work and countless hours completing your courses and passing exams, but up pops that roadblock called a dissertation defense and you feel suddenly like the coyote facing the roadrunner. So close, yet instantly out of reach.

Prepare yourself for a challenging experience when presenting your conclusion to the dissertation committee. Stop blaming yourself and take solace in knowing that it’s not that uncommon for doctoral students such as yourself to defend a dissertation a time or three before hitting the home run. You can be at the top of your game if you can read the pitcher and avoid these common mistakes.

Choosing Too Broad A Research Topic

New doctoral students often begin by swinging for the fences to nail big issues in their field of study. Why? Because that’s all they’ve been studying in impressive academic journals. They don’t get that those are often the work of a dedicated team of researchers with big budgets and resources beyond the reach of a doctoral student. Dial down the gravitas of the big picture and focus on a narrower topic. It will make things easier on yourself and provide your dissertation with information that perhaps covers new ground to intrigue the committee. Don’t be afraid to ask your advisor when deciding your topic and creating your initial proposal.

Wandering Off Base.

Doctoral students often begin straying from the main subject as they proceed into their dissertation. Avoid going off on tangents not specifically relatable to your thesis. Begin with a dissertation outline before going headfirst into the project. It will keep you from getting tagged out at first. Creating an outline first and then expounding upon it keeps you on the base path to success.

Dial in each chapter so it is clear about its particular purpose and doesn’t interfere with other chapters. Stay consistent in the detail given each chapter so that you clearly build your argument step-by-step. If they can follow you from base to base, you’ve hit a home run.

Don’t Hide Your Game Plan.

Involve members of their committee throughout your draft process. Don’t think that you are bothering them. Consider them part of your team and learn what they’ll be looking for so you’ll know what to expect before during the defense. Don’t be afraid to ask committee members to review your initial draft. Don’t let the first time they see it is during your defense. You’ll be better served with them as teammates rather than devil’s advocates.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help.

Creating a dissertation isn’t for the minor leagues. It’s your World Series.

Get your game plan together and ask the pros.  Your adviser is your trusted teammate. Get them involved. If you feel you are not getting enough feedback, don’t be afraid to call someone in from the bullpen in the form of a professional dissertation consultant. They have the experience to know the dissertation process inside and out.

Most importantly, avoid the most common mistake of not seeking help when you need it and ending up wasting an entire year and incurring extra tuition costs. Follow this game plan and soon you’ll be welcomed into the majors, Doctor.

To learn more about preparing for your dissertation defense, visit