Here I continue with another reminiscence of my interactions and relationship with my mentor, the great textual scholar Bruce Metzger. This one has always struck me as a bit humorous.
In almost (but not absolutely) all PhD programs in this country, the doctoral candidate has do an “oral defense” of the dissertation. If s/he successfully defends, the PhD is then granted. Here at UNC, the defense is conducted in front of the five-person dissertation committee, all of them experts on one or another aspect of the work. Everyone on the committee has carefully read the dissertation, and the defense is designed to see if, well, the thesis is defensible.
In other words, faculty members do not hold back but probe deeply into the work to see if there are any flaws in it. If a student fails the defense, s/he has to revise the dissertation and try again. Even if it is considered passable, revisions of some sort are often considered necessary.
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