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Procedure for defending thesis work in the field of botany

Procedure for defending thesis work in the field of botany (sent with invitation).


  • As one component of the final state examination (SZZ), thesis work is evaluated by an SZZ committee appointed for the particular student. The thesis reader is generally not a member of the committee. Members of the committee must be present for the thesis defense.

  • Thesis work is assessed by the thesis advisor and thesis reader. In his/her assessment, the thesis advisor gives particular emphasis to the circumstances under which the work was carried out, and evaluates the approach taken; the thesis reader assesses the work primarily from the perspective of the “Criteria for the Assessment of Thesis Work” and asks the candidate questions.

  • The committee also assesses the thesis according to these criteria, while taking into account the opinion of the thesis reader and the department faculty.

  • The defense is supervised by the authorized department employee.

Procedure during the public portion of the defense

  • The authorized department employee presents the candidate and the title of his/her work.

  • In a 15-minute presentation, the candidate summarizes the basic objectives, procedures and results of the work, and places these within the relevant context of the particular discipline. It is absolutely necessary to keep within the time limit.

  • The thesis advisor and reader present a brief evaluation of the work (first part of the assessment). During the defense it is not necessary to read the assessment in its entirety (the committee will have written copies at its disposal).

  • The thesis reader will ask questions of the candidate, who shall answer directly. This exchange and disputation is the heart of the defense. It is essential for the reader to participate in the defense (we strongly urge all thesis readers to participate – otherwise the defense would not have the desired disputation).

  • The same may be repeated with the questions from the advisor (if there are any). The questions of the advisor are discussed after the questions of the reader.

  • After the questions of the reader have been answered, the chair will ask for questions from faculty members present. Their questions will continue the disputation.

  • The defense for a single candidate shall last a max. of 50 minutes.


Procedure during the closed portion of the meeting

  • The advisor and reader present their verbal evaluation (including evaluation of the candidate’s presentation) along with a grade recommendation.

  • Department faculty members discuss individual works, particularly with regard to comparing works.

  • Department faculty members publicly vote

  • Individual SZZ committees meet separately and determine the final grade. The committee need not respect the recommendation from the department faculty members, or the opinion of the thesis reader or advisor, but when giving a different grade it must justify its conclusions to the department faculty members.

  • Announcement of the results to the department faculty members

  • Public announcement of the results

Structure of thesis reader assessments

  • It is very desirable for reader assessments to have the following parts:

  • a brief evaluation of the work and justification for this evaluation. (This should be no longer than 1 paragraph.) Ideally, in this section the reader will consider the requirements of items 1) – 4) of the “Criteria for Evaluating Thesis Work”.

  • several factual questions for the candidate (especially for criterion 4) concerning the topic, content, approach to the work, or interpretation of results presented therein. Rather than eliciting short technical answers, questions should be formulated to enable the candidate to demonstrate a capacity to move about independently within the field and apply his/her knowledge.

  • Other technical notes of the reader not requiring a response may be part of the assessment and made available to the committee and candidate, but need not be discussed during the defense unless specially requested by the candidate.


Criteria for evaluating dissertations

  • quality and quantity of data collected

  • methodological approach

  • correct and appropriate interpretation of data (results) in the context of what is known about the subject (knowledge of literature, discussion of the problem)

  • good, synthesizing selection of presentation tools (graphs, diagrams, etc.) when presenting important primary data in the appendix; all primary data must be available from the author upon request

  • adequate presentation skills during the defense, including presentation of the essence of the dissertation within the allotted time

  • quality responses to comments in assessments and from the faculty during the defense

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