Finalizing your dissertation and the PhD defence require the necessary preparations. Start these early and read through some of our suggestions.
A PhD defence is costly. The total costs depend on a number of issues, including how many books you will have printed and the number of pages of your dissertation. The costs to have your dissertation printed also depends on the printing business. Inform yourself early on about the costs at various printing companies, that your own university is the least expensive one is not a given. The costs for a reception, party or dinner depends of course on the number of people you will invite.
Below some indicative amounts:
- Dissertation: € 2.000 tot € 6.000
- Clothing (buy or rent): € 100 tot € 500
- Reception: € 350 tot € 700
- Diner/buffet: € 25 tot € 50 per person
- Party: € 1.000 tot € 5.000
There are also some financial advantages to a PhD defence. The university reimburses the costs for the number of books they receive through the Beadle’s Office. Often there is an additional compensation as a number of dissertations will be sent to other universities, the so-called ‘mandatory lists’. There are also foundations who (partly) finance the printing of dissertations about specific topics, but you may also try to apply for funding from the private sector, for example in exchange for mentioning a company’s name in your dissertation or by sending them copies of the book. Always inform however at your university whether this is allowed. At some universities this is explicitly forbidden.
You need to prepare a number of things before your actual defence. Read about these below.
6 months prior to the defence
- Read your university’s doctoral regulations and other information related to the PhD defence.
- Fill out the first form regarding the promotion (‘declaration of intent’).
- Together with your supervisor, establish a committee for reading en evaluating the dissertation and for playing the opponent’s role during the defence. Often, there are a number of rules about the composition of the committee, such as with regards to the number of committee members that have the ius promovendi, the number of full professors and the gender balance.
- Gather information from different printers.
- Think about how you want to organize the PhD defence day, and request information and quotations for a dinner and/or party.
3-4 months prior to the defence
- The thesis must be submitted to the reading committee.
- Make an appointment with the Beadle’s Office and set a date, in consultation with your supervisors, co-supervisor and any foreign opponents (sometimes the date may only be established after approval of the reading committee).
- After the reading committee has approved your dissertation, a form must be filled out (by your supervisor).
- Make an appointment with the printer and discuss the possibilities, such as with regards to lay-out, for your dissertation.
- Request an ISBN-number for your dissertation.
- Obtain potential funding for printing your dissertation.
- Finalize the thesis, including the cover and title page (often the approval of the Beadle’s Office is required for this), the summaries and acknowledgments.
- Lay-out of your dissertation.
- Think about who your paranymphs (ceremonial assistants) will be.
- Have a look at potential locations for the party and make the final reservations.
- Arrange the reception (information can be gathered from your university).
2-1 months prior to the defence
- The dissertation must go to the printer!
- Create an address file for dispatching your dissertation (supervisors, cosupervisors, opponents, funding agencies, colleagues, contacts outside university, people working in the same field, friends, family, etc.) The Beadle’s Office often takes a few theses for the professors of your faculty.
- Distribute the books.
- Buy or rent suitable clothing.
- Arrange a photographer, video recording, sound recording, etc.
The last weeks
- Reconfirm the arrangements made for the reception, dinner, party and photographer and discuss the details.
- Prepare for your defence by for example:
- Reading the regulations again. For example: how should you address your opponents?
- Organize a mock defence with colleagues.
- Re-read recent and classic articles.
- Re-read the reviewers’ comments on your articles/dissertation and re-read your answers to these comments.
- For each chapter of your dissertation: list the strong and weak points.
- For each chapter of your dissertation: think of possible questions.
- Finally, don’t forget to, above all, enjoy your PhD defence!