Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dissertation defenses, timing and bureaucracy

At Michigan the faculty of graduate studies requires that each member of a dissertation committee submit an evaluation form (on paper or via email) at most three days prior to the day of the defense. The form asks for a rating of the dissertation with the following options:

Acceptable as submitted
Acceptable after minor typographical and stylistic corrections
Acceptable after minor substantive changes
Acceptable after substantial revisions
Unacceptable

Oddly, the form asks for a similar rating on the dissertation abstract.

I am not quite sure what the point of the form is. It could be just to make sure that the faculty members on the committee remember that there is a defense that they are supposed to prepare for and then attend. It could be a way of providing advance warning of serious trouble in the making, though one would hope that students do not get to the point of even scheduling a dissertation defense if there is real danger of not passing.

In my case, submitting the form via email is nearly always the thing I do right before I sit down and start looking at the dissertation. As I have not yet read it when I submit the evaluation form, my evaluation consists of my prior, which is that the dissertation will require minor substantive changes and the abstract will require minor typographical and stylistic ones.

Such are the odd rituals of academe.

1 comment:

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