The Defense Draft
On July 16 I delivered the final draft of my dissertation (called the defense draft) to my committee at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The committee (Drs. Richard Averbeck, K. Lawson Younger, and T. Desimond Alexander) have about one month to review my dissertation. Then, on August 14 I defend my dissertation before my committee and peers. It was a rush of activity leading up to July 16 and it will be a rush of activity after August 14.
Preparing for Defense
Up until August 14 I will be preparing for my defense. I’ll be reading and rereading, trying to anticipate the critiques that the readers will bring so that I can be as prepared as possible to answer their challenges. Still, the dissertation is exerting a little less pressure on the schedule and so we’re also enjoying visiting our supporting churches and spending time with families that pray for us and support us as well.
Then comes that fateful day when I defend my thesis. It’s the culmination of three years of intense writing and research and many more years of preparation.
From what I understand, the defense usually lasts a total of about two to three hours. First I defend before the committee and whatever fellow PhD students decide to attend. In the beginning I will give a short summary statement of what contribution I expect to make to scholarship. After that each of the three readers takes his turn to point out errors, ask for clarification, or challenge a part of my argument. Once that is done the committee deliberates. During that time they will decide whether I have successfully defended my thesis and what changes need to be made. Those changes can include everything from formatting to corrections to the argument. Once they are done I will be called back in to the room and will be told the results.
There are always some changes that need to be made.
The Final Version
After the defense, assuming that I have successfully defended by thesis, I will set about to make the necessary changes to the dissertation. I have already been told that I need to shorten it by 80 pages. There is a good chance I will have other changes to make as well but I won’t know for sure until I hear the results.
My goal is to be able to turn in the final copy before we leave for Slovakia on August 22. That’s just a little more than one week. Trimming 80 pages is not going to be easy in such a short amount of time the last week of our home assignment is going to be a whirlwind.