A special PhD Thesis Proposal defense was held at the meeting room on the 4th floor of the No.6 Teaching Building at Nankai University. Doctoral students Zhang Yan and Meng Fan will graduate this year from the College of Chemistry. They accepted and passed their oral defenses via an online video, which marks the opening of Nankai University’s online PhD Thesis Proposal defense.
Promoted by academicians and supported by the President
According to the data from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, college graduates will reach 8.74 million in 2020. Thousands of PhD students graduated from Nankai University these years. However, this year, the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 has generated a negative influence on the teaching and on students’ training plans. The PhD students have been eagerly looking forward to their degree defense as scheduled.
To this end, Li Zhengming (academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and professor of the College of Chemistry of Nankai University) wrote to Cao Xuetao (President of Nankai University and Dean of Graduate School) in April and said: “In view of the severe situation of the Novel coronavirus pneumonia, it is recommended the school try an online doctoral defense”, and submitted an“urgent report on the feasibility study in order to apply for an online doctoral degree response”.
After a careful reading of Li’s report, Cao replied: “Mr. Li’s idea is quite good, it reflects the future direction of graduate education reform. Graduate defense has a special meaning. It is a big event for the graduates themselves, and also an important job for the graduate teachers. At present, it seems that the completion of the defense online is worth analyzing and researching” and approved the application of Mr. Li Zhengming’s team for the trial of the online doctoral defense.
Overcome difficulties and be well-prepared
Through research and consultation with professionals, Mr. Li Zhengming ’s team gradually realized that the process of online doctoral defense is much more complicated than online recruitment. Many problems will appear amid the process, such as inviting foreign experts to preside over and coordinate the whole defense, comparison and selection of various remote conference softwares, online storage of defense information, the disturbing factors of the picture and sound in signal transmission, how to realize all the physical operations online, etc. After more than 20 days of intense study and discussion, Mr. Li Zhengming's team has developed a thoughtful plan for the implementation of online defense, which was appropriate for the current situation of Nankai and met all the requirements for the defense.
In order to ensure the entire process to work stable and smooth, Mr. Li Zhengming's team firmly implemented the requirements of the Graduate School, such as the use of dual platforms, keeping dual video recordings, and regular extraction of key sections. The team also conducted various rehearsals for the defense in different network environments. In practice, they constantly corrected the sound distortion and improved the quality of the picture to ensure the success of the final online defense.
Be open and fair and explore a new way
The special defense was held at May 15th. In order to ensure that the academic level and the whole process of the defense are consistent offline, and that the defense process is fair, open, legal, and compliant, the team has shown the defense announcement on the website of the College of Chemistry before it begins. The conference number is publicized for online supervision and audition by all the teachers and students.
There will be a main venue in Nankai University, and a network branch venue. The defense expert group is composed by 6 professors. In addition to the defense expert group members and staff, the heads of the training office of the Graduate School and the School of Chemistry also attended the defense. Many teachers and students audited the defense online.
The online defense is same as the traditional doctoral defense. There are several segments such as tutor introduction, thesis report, questions answering, expert discussions, and secret ballot. The defense was supported by multiple units, such as the Graduate School of Nankai University, the Office of Information Construction, the Management and so on. It also explored a new path for the future of the doctoral defense model of Nankai University.
( Reported by Liping Xu, Translated by Yuhan Si, Edited by Davide Francolino and JianjingYun)