handy sourcesA checklist for just before you finish your PhD

The end of your PhD is looming, so lots of practical matters will arise. Many PhD students have the impression that once the Thesis Committee has received your thesis, they can take time off till the day of their viva.

Unfortunately, I am really sorry to disappoint you…. You still need to do a lot after you submitted your manuscript. This blog will explain more.

Gera Nagelhout from the University of Maastricht made a checklist in cooperation with others, to prepare you for the final day of your PhD.  This list starts a little bit earlier in time: once you have finished your thesis for the Thesis Committee.

Checklist for finalizing your PhD

Finish thesis for the Thesis Committee

  • Write and submit articles/chapters
  • Optional: discuss with PhD team which articles will be included in your thesis
  • Write the general introduction
  • Write the general discussion
  • Write the excerpts
  • Appoint and invite the Thesis Committee
  • PhD team’s thesis approval
  • Sending thesis to Thesis Committee, the layout doesn’t need to be perfect, as long as it is a neat document

Organize the doctoral degree ceremony with your University

  • Read the doctoral degree regulations
  • Organize the administration to be admitted to obtaining a doctoral degree (can vary per University), or letters with declarations via the secretary’s office
  • Choose a date for the viva
  • Determine and invite Corona (big committee)

Prepare your thesis for the printer.

Finalize thesis for the printer (you should start this before you received the approval of the committee):

  • Optional: incorporate the feedback of the Thesis Committee
  • Write the statements and get approval from your PhD team
  • Appointments with designer and printer:
    • Apply for quotations
    • Apply for ISBN
    • Count in 6 weeks for design and printing
    • Take your time to check the sample print for print errors, spelling mistakes, design errors, etc.
    • Who is designing the cover? Will you do it yourself or maybe a professional
    • List the people you want to send a copy of your thesis, determine the total amount
  • Ask the Rector for approval of the first pages of your thesis, including the date and Committee – this varies per University. The beadle might be able to inform you more on this
  • Invite your assistants (paranymphs) to be included on the bookmarkers
  • Write the final parts of your thesis, like the impact paragraph and acknowledgements  (check your University). Don’t forget the portfolio, about the author, list of publications. Make sure you send all this to the PhD team.
  • Optional: create an easily comprehensible version of your thesis

Organising your viva

  • Invite family, friends, colleagues (communicate date and time)
  • If applicable: create a PowerPoint and practice your presentation
  • If applicable: arrange a meeting to test your PowerPoint at the booked location
  • Send out your theses (a copy to the Committee at least three weeks before viva)
  • Organize reception, drinks or dinner after your viva
  • Make sure you know the dress rules and buy or hire the necessary items
  • Optional: a thank you for your assistants or the members of the Thesis Committee
  • Optional: hire a photographer for the day
  • Optional: communicate with the press department about your thesis
  • Optional: organize a webinar or symposium on the day of your viva
  • Arrange a trial viva (date and opponents)
  • Prepare your defense:
    • Trial viva (ask for feedback on your presentation and how you answered the questions)
    • Practice your presentation (are you within time limits)
    • Reread your entire thesis
    • Reflect on the most important implication/conclusion of your research
    • Reflect on questions and answers based on the profiles of the opponents

Here you will find even more tips to prepare your viva.

During the defense:

  • Enjoy the moment!

After the defense:

  • Take a couple of days’ leave (at least the day after your viva)
  • Ask your University for financial compensation if applicable, check with your University
  • Check if you could deduct some of the costs in your tax declaration

How many theses should you print?

Gera Nagelhout hosted an online poll on Twitter and Linkedin on how many theses to print. Apparently, it is sufficient to print between 50 to 100 copies. Of course, it all depends on the thesis. Make sure you evaluate the amount needed. You can see the results in this picture, it is in Dutch but self-explanatory.

Poll to find out how many copies to print of your thesis

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