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Referral for re-submission: Scholarly Expectations of EFL Applied Linguistics Doctoral Defense Sessions

Alireza Jalilifar and Nadia Mayahi

Abstract

In a challenging criticism-generating oral defense of a doctoral program, examiners evaluate the PhD dissertation so as to confirm its scholarly merit. The main purpose of this ethnographic study was identifying the examiners’ expectations of the viva which was achieved by using a content analytic approach for analyzing the disputation section of two applied linguistics doctoral defense sessions from two accredited Iranian universities in 2019. Despite the similar shortcomings in terms of innovation, development, sampling and treatment, raised by the examiners, one of the candidates passed with distinction while the other was suggested re-submission. This finding suggests that the outcome of a viva, in an EFL context, not only depends on adherence to the conventions of doctoral research but is also influenced by the strictness of the examiners, the candidates’ language proficiency, and negotiation skills in this confrontational communicative event. Findings provide evidence for factors, namely the examiners’ attributes, the doctoral candidate’s attributes, and the dissertation attributes that determine the success or failure of PhD candidates in displaying their claims of scholarship during their defense sessions.

Zusammenfassung

In einer herausfordernden, kritikgenerierenden mündlichen Verteidigung einer Doktorarbeit bewerten die Prüferinnen und Prüfer die Dissertation, um ihre wissenschaftliche Qualität zu bestätigen. Der Hauptzweck dieser ethnografischen Studie war die Ermittlung der Erwartungen der Prüfer an die Disputation, die durch die Verwendung eines inhaltsanalytischen Ansatzes zur Analyse des Disputationsteils von zwei Promotionsverteidigungssitzungen der angewandten Linguistik von zwei akkreditierten iranischen Universitäten im Jahr 2019 erreicht wurde. Trotz ähnlicher Mängel in Bezug auf Innovation, Entwicklung, Textauswahl und Präsentation, die von den Prüfern angesprochen wurden, bestand einer der Kandidaten mit Auszeichnung, während dem anderen eine erneute Einreichung vorgeschlagen wurde. Dieser Befund deutet darauf hin, dass das Ergebnis einer Disputation im EFL-Kontext nicht nur von der Einhaltung der für Doktoranden geltenden fachlichen Konventionen abhängt, sondern auch von der Strenge der Prüfer, den Sprachkenntnissen der Kandidaten und dem Verhandlungsgeschick beeinflusst wird. Die Ergebnisse liefern Hinweise auf Faktoren, nämlich die Eigenschaften der Prüfer, die Eigenschaften des Doktoranden und die Eigenschaften der Dissertation, die über Erfolg oder Misserfolg von Doktoranden bei der Darstellung ihrer Stipendienansprüche während ihrer Verteidigungssitzungen entscheiden.

Resumen

En una defensa oral desafiante crítica-generadora de un programa de doctorado, los examinadores evalúan la tesis doctoral para confirmar su mérito académico. La meta principal de este estudio etnográfico fue identificar las expectativas de los examinadores de la VIVA que se consiguió mediante la realización de un enfoque analítico de contenido para analizar la sección de disputas de dos sesiones de defensa doctoral de lingüística aplicada de dos universidades iraníes acreditadas en 2019. A pesar de las deficiencias similares planteadas por los examinadores en términos de innovación, desarrollo, muestreo y tratamiento, uno de los candidatos pasó con distinción, mientras que se le sugirieron al otro volver a presentar. Este hallazgo sugiere que el resultado de la VIVA, en un contexto de inglés como lengua extranjera (EFL), no solo depende del cumplimiento de las convenciones de la investigación doctoral, sino que también está influenciado por la minuciosidad de los examinadores, el dominio del idioma de los candidatos y las habilidades de negociación en este evento comunicativo de confrontación. Los hallazgos proporcionan factores evidentes, es decir, las características de los examinadores, de los candidatos del doctorado y las de la tesis que determinan el éxito o el fracaso de los candidatos al doctorado en la presentación de sus reclamaciones de beca durante sus sesiones de defensa.

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Published Online: 2022-05-13

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