“So is it possible to fail, once you’ve made it to the defence?” I asked, hoping the answer would be no.

“Oh yes!” he answered with glee. “Absolutely! Actually, there was one particularly bad case in medicine a while back. Everything looked great until one of the doctoral candidate’s lab assistants asked a question ex auditorium.”

“What was the question?”

“Oh, he just asked why none of the human subjects who had died during the experiments were mentioned in the thesis.”

Once my relieved laughter had subsided he added, “I think that was back in the twenties.”

“So what about the other times people have failed at the defence?”

“Other times? I’ve never heard of any other times that’s happened,” he said with a smile.

I’d still prefer there to be no questions ex auditorio.

7 thoughts on “ex auditorio

  1. larsd

    Det er et tilfelle fra Danmark, hvor en forsker ble fratatt sin doktorgrad p grunn av avskrift. Om dette ble avsl¯rt ex auditorium, vet jeg ikke

  2. Jill

    Plagiarism? How embarrassing! No, I’m sure I wrote it myself. And I’m sure nobody was killed due to the writing.


  3. HÂkon Styri

    I’m not certain whether the case Jill was told about is the same case that I vaguely recall, but that wasn’t back in the twenties.

    It’s correct that a lab assistant asked a question ex auditorium, but the lab assistant did have to answer a few questions regarding the lab reports during the investigation.

    I belive the incident was called a scandal and the candidate was awarded a PhD at another university.

  4. Jill

    Ooh! So it’s true to some degree! Goodness. Thanks, HÂkon. Any more details, anyone?

  5. real icon

    Shouldn’t it be “ex auditorio”, by the way?

    “You need to cultivate a consumer mentality: remember how much you’ve paid to get to this moment, and take advantage of the all-star cast (a.k.a. your committee members) you’ve assembled by asking THEM questions.”
    (Joan Bolker)

  6. Jill

    Oh, you’re right! I never studied Latin, so I even had to do a web search to check this, but yes, you’re absolutely correct. I’ve fixed the title, now 🙂

    And WOW. I need to plan my QUESTIONS!!

  7. Jamie

    Now that you are about to join `the club’ it is time that we can reveal to you the secret of what you should try to avoid at your defence: http://www.angelfire.com/ak/Smitter/thesis.html (although #91 is probably okay nowadays).

    I’d wish you good luck but you obviously don’t need luck because you’ll be awesome as always.

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