Components of the Defense Process
The Doctoral Committee
Every student admitted into an academic doctoral program, either Ph.D. or Th.D., will be assigned a Doctoral Committee prior to the scheduling of the doctoral defense. The Thesis Supervisor is selected by the student from either the Graduate Theological Foundation’s faculty or an approved scholar from outside our faculty. At the time the thesis has been completed to the satisfaction of both the student and the Thesis Supervisor, the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) will appoint two faculty persons, normally from within the GTF but, when deemed necessary, one or both from outside our faculty to serve as Faculty Readers. The Defense Panel Chair, who is a senior member of the faculty, will appoint two of our faculty to serve on the Defense Panel. At this juncture, the doctoral student is elevated to the status of doctoral degree Candidate.
At the time of the doctoral defense, these six individuals will constitute the Doctoral Committee, namely, the Thesis Supervisor, two Faculty Readers, two Defense Panelists, and the Defense Panel Chair. Members of the Doctoral Committee are not asked to agree with the observations or conclusions drawn by the doctoral candidate in the thesis but are asked finally to concur that the thesis is worthy of scholarly recognition based on traditional standards of scholarship, research, and presentation. It is imperative that the rules of the academy for scholarly procedure and intellectual accountability take precedence over Committee members’ own ideological orientations, preferences, and prejudices. (Note: In the case of ABD candidates, the AAC may waive the requirement for a Thesis Supervisor if the ABD candidate has already completed much or all of the necessary research for the thesis or if the thesis has already been published by a recognized scholarly publishing house.)
The Thesis Supervisor
The Thesis Supervisor has been nominated by the degree candidate and approved by the AAC. This person is a distinguished scholar in the thesis topic field as determined by credentials, professional position, and publications and functions as the first gate keeper as relates to scholarly performance by the degree candidate. The duties of the Thesis Supervisor consist of supervising the doctoral candidate through to the successful completion of the defense of the thesis and, at the conclusion of the thesis supervision, will submit the Thesis Supervisor’s Report Form in evidence of his/her acceptance and endorsement of the thesis as demonstrative of scholarly work which makes an original contribution to the field and, therefore, worthy of the Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Theology degree. The stipend is paid the Thesis Supervisor by the Office of the Bursar within four weeks of submission of the thesis, contingent upon the thesis being judged acceptable by the Faculty Readers and the Doctoral Defense Panel. In the event that the Doctoral Defense Panel or Faculty Readers feel that further work is needed before scheduling the doctoral defense, the Thesis Supervisor will work with both the candidate and the Defense Panel Chair to bring the thesis to successful completion.
The Faculty Readers
Two Faculty Readers will be appointed by the Defense Panel Chair and approved by the AAC from the ranks of the GTF’s own faculty. However, where absolutely required for depth of analysis, an outside scholar may be appointed by the AAC instead. Faculty Readers function as the second gate keepers as relates to scholarly performance by the degree candidate. The Faculty Readers will receive the thesis three months prior to the anticipated date of the doctoral defense and will have one month to determine the acceptability of the thesis as presented. If the thesis is judged unacceptable by either of the Faculty Readers, the AAC will be notified by that Reader no later than two months prior to the anticipated defense date with a detailed explanation of the impeding deficiencies and that Reader will offer specific suggestions as to how the deficiencies may be remedied. The Faculty Readers will complete and submit the Faculty Readers Report Form within one month of the anticipated defense date where there are no deficiencies indicated and two months in cases where deficiencies have been noted and detailed. Upon receipt of the Faculty Readers Report Form, the Office of the Bursar will issue the stipend to the Readers.
The Defense Panelists
Two Defense Panelists will be appointed by the Defense Panel Chair and approved by the AAC from the ranks of the GTF’s own faculty. However, where absolutely required for depth of analysis, an outside scholar may be appointed by the AAC instead. Defense Panelists function as the third gate keepers as relates to scholarly performance by the degree candidate and will join the Defense Panel Chair for the doctoral defense. The Defense Panelists will receive the thesis three months prior to the anticipated date of oral defense and will have one month to determine the acceptability of the thesis as presented. If the thesis is judged unacceptable by either of the Defense Panelists, the AAC will be notified by that Panelist no later than two months prior to the anticipated defense date with a detailed explanation of the impeding deficiencies and specific suggestions as to how the deficiencies may be remedied. Furthermore, the Faculty Panelists will complete and submit the Defense Panelists Report Form within one month of the anticipated defense date where there are no deficiencies indicated and two months in cases where deficiencies have been noted and detailed.
The Defense Panel Chair
The Defense Panel Chair will serve as a member of the Defense Panel and will chair the doctoral defense to insure institutionally-established protocol in the doctoral thesis defense process. The Chair will insure that the Verification of Completion Form is duly signed by the Faculty Panelists and will submit that Form to the Office of the President.
NOTE: The Academic Affairs Committee, chaired by the President, has final jurisdiction in all matters related to this process including the determination to award the degree.
The Report Form
The report form used by Faculty Readers, Defense Panelists and Thesis Supervisors is a mandatory part of the evaluation process and consists of six categories of assessment requiring a paragraph comment from each member of the Doctoral Committee -- Thesis Supervisor, two Readers, and two Panelists. These six components have been determined to be indispensable in the evaluation of scholarly work and the candidate has been made aware of these steps in the writing of the thesis based on guidelines produced and provided by the GTF. These components include:
- General Statement of the Problem in which the candidate states clearly and succinctly the parameters within which the thesis is to be researched on the identified problem or topic;
- Review of the Relevant Literature Summary will consist of an overview of the range and depth of literature available and accessed in the pursuit of this research topic indicating, where necessary, the strengths and weaknesses of the available literature,
- Research Methodology employed in the Study based on the candidate’s understanding of research methodology learned in the research methods course taken prior to the writing of the thesis,
- Presentation, Analysis, and Summary of the Findings as indicated initially in the general statement of the problem or topic to be researched and the findings resulting from that research in brief summary form,
- Work Yet to be Done -- scope of future work will be indicated based on the awareness of the researcher that no topic worthy of research can ever be fully exhausted and the realization that the researcher should be able to indicate further directions research on the topic might proceed, and
- Statement of the “Original Contribution to the Field” which, at the end of the day, is the validation of the merits of the research worthy of being designated a doctoral-level contribution to the field and to the academic community.