I'm so stressed and scared. I will have to defend my research topic in front of the panel of 7 experts. The problem is when I'm anxious and I sure will be, I'm not able to think so any questions they ask and I haven't anticipated beforehand I won't be able to answer. I'm really not all that confident with my project and am pretty much only able to answer questions that are narrowly related to the project. I have made a decision that if I get any other outcome than a straight pass I'm quitting. My supervisor is not worried but I always had a feeling that she is overestimating my abilities. So I might only be a PhD student for 2 more days...
for a start, calm down! Its going to be fine - really
Feelings of not knowing anything and that other people overestimate your qualities are all part of being a PhD student. can't remember the name of it but there was a thread on this a while ago, describing the syndrome associated to always feeling you'll be found out as a fraud, which is partivularly prevolent in academics.
Everyone gets nervous at these things AND at poster presentations, talks, seminars etc etc etc - its just part of the life
As for your panel, you will never be able to predict the questions they are going to ask you and the more you worry the less rational about it you will become. Just make sure you know what you've got and where it is going and you'll be fine
Here is my tips (based on my experience):
1- when they ask you a question take a second to consider it, make sure you have understood the question and why they are asking it
Questions tend to be asked:
A- Because they don't understand and want you to explain
B- To see if you really know what you've written or said
C- To point out that you have not quite got your ideas correct and to ultimately correct you - this can actually be quite helpful in the end
2- if the meaning of the question is not clear, or the relationship to your work is not clear, then its okay to ask for clarity. sometimes its okay to repeat the question back to them and say is this what you meant
3- if you really really don't know - just say ' I don't know, sorry' (or something like that), you can't know everything and will only look worse when you make up answers (been there done that)
The drop and roll thing reminds me of a story my supervisor told me. A student of hers felt that he'd done so badly after his first year viva that he came into her office and literally rolled around the floor hysterically crying! I reckon as long as you avoid this you'll be fine!
Seriously though I was a bundle of nerves beforehand but ended up surprised at how quickly the time passed and even at how little of the report we managed to discuss in the time allowed.
Thanks for the tips.
I already had a moderate "freak out" in the supervisor office few hours ago. I kept repeating words "It's going to be a complete disaster" etc. I nearly cried but didn't. Supervisor told me to call anytime if I need to chat other than that we went thorugh some possible queations and we discussed how I'm being too negative about things (it's now 24 hours to go...)
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