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Nearly Failed Viva
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Umma08 - I glad you got to the end with a slight detour! I read that candidates who actually make it to the second submission normally make it. The problem is that it can be so disheartening that people often just drop out after they don't make the first viva. It is certainly the experience of a lifetime!

Help me keep this thread going with tips etc. I sort of want to get some the key messages 'out there'.

PhD at 38
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*how being older is likely to affect my chances of getting an academic position at the end of my PhD*

This is a tricky issue. It is easier in some research fields than others. In Law, for example, there is a still a big demand for law teachers which leads to higher recruitment in the field.

I was mature-ish, and something I found difficult is that a lot of younger people are superior to me. However, I guess that is just the nature of working life.

PhD is a great experience however!

Thesis submission
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It has been 4 months now, how did it go?

Nearly Failed Viva
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Thanks all.

The funny thing is that I have never really left this thesis behind. Even though it was not a very good critical argument, it did contain many, many hours of research. One way of looking at it is to say that it was 'raw data'. That is, I had masses of uncritically analysed research.

I have now written two articles based on thesis, although only one is published. They certainly contain critical argument now. I learnt that lesson the hard way.

Resubmission and unsupportive supervisor
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OK - you do need to talk someone in the department. Don't expect them to criticise a colleague, but they will probably put some steps in place to help. What I mean here is that a measured email (I recommend an email to the HoD with the Director of Postgraduate Research copied in) will at least put you on the radar and probably encourage them to help you. What you won't ever ever ever get is 'tea and sympathy'. It's important you know that.

Also you should be given detailed corrections to effect from your external. No? If not, talk to your HoD. Explain that you need guidance to follow. They might organise it.


I don't have a theoretical framework for my research - is that a problem?
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I think you are mad not to have a framework for an analysis. That's essential.

Success! Thanks to all :)
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Well done lemonjuice. You've been a great presence on here.

Nearly Failed Viva
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Quote From umma08:
Had my Viva last Friday (Halloween Eve) and the calendar setting end up being quite appropriate! I posted about it on another thread.
Its nice to hear and read some positive account for revise and resubmit. At the moment, my biggest worry is the fees that the University will attempt to charge - especially given that they are trying to increase their student led funding these days in account for reduced government funding.

I am not in the position to pay the year fees (£4000) and would feel even worse if i had to take a loan from either the bank/my parents to account for my perceived failure. If faced with that choice, i think i would just not bother, sadly.

Keep us updated. This also happened to my friend recently.

Nearly Failed Viva
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Quote From mon1985:
I'm confused now. I have my viva in 3 weeks' time and everywhere I read about original contribution it says that it can be as simple as an application of a concept to a new context, or examination of an already existing model? So what did you say your contribution was in the end? In what way were you evaluative and critical? Of the literature and the field or....? I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, just trying to understand and learn while I still can.

P.S. I've read quite a lot of viva accounts on this forum and every time somebody is actually thinking 'that might be fun, I'm looking onward ti it' it goes downhill.

Sorry I got to this late. I hope it went well.

With regard to original contribution: both 'application of a new concept' and 'examination of an existing model' are original. My problem was that I did neither in my thesis. There was nothing critical (evaluative) in my thesis. Instead, I had unearthed a lot of new information and written it down. It was a digging exercise. 2 years on I do get it. Factual discovery is not OK in the social sciences.

With regard to my own experience: my examiners (sort of) took pity on me. They saw that an enormous amount of work had gone into the 'digging exercise' and told me to make it critical. That gave me three months of pure hell - evaluating what I found. The task was made much easier by the fact that they gave me detailed corrections. In fact they basically told me what to do (e.g. 'be critical at point X').

Also, I was in post by the time I took my viva. I was on a temporary contract and so if I'd not passed, I'd probably have lost my job. Who knows, that might have been a factor.

Nearly Failed Viva
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Thanks Mackem_Beefy. Yes, it turns out that people do actually read the thesis. More than a year on, I have reflected a lot. I think the best way to view a viva and corrections is as part of a *learning process*.

Nearly Failed Viva
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Quote From pianissimo:
I just wish there was something more than online chat here... Come on people, share your "nearly failed viva" experience.

You're a difficult customer!

I've finished my thesis corrections now. I'm pretty sure that my internal examiner didn't even read them. I did improve the thesis significantly, but it will pretty much languish unread in future. I think that's the fate of many theses.

I've learnt a lot. I submitted too soon, but also the project wasn't well conceived. It wasn't critical/evaluative. That's not to say it wasn't complex, or hard, but it wasn't what is conventionally seen as doctoral research work.

Still, I like technical writing. I won't give up on it. And for the future, I've learnt a lot of lessons.

Nearly Failed Viva
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I'm doing my thesis corrections now. They are going OK. My externals were quite good and provided a relatively straightforward 'to do' list. It reads like 'insert critical here' and 'insert critical comment there'.

For me, corrections have been just like having another 3 months on the thesis. Funny thing is, I'm not actually sick of it. Although when I get bored, I have been procrastinating a lot!

*Plays Flappy Bird*

Nearly Failed Viva
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Dr littleowl: that's great news. Congrats.

AislingB: cheers!

Fled: thanks very much, nice of you to say!

lizziejamescaroon: thanks! :}

Comments on First Full Draft
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Quote From Gaia312:
Thanks to all of you and for your support. I will indeed compare the structure of my thesis with those of others in my field and send it to a professional proof reader. After some pressure I did receive a few helpful oral comments from my supervisors recently. Good luck to all of you

You are stuck with your supervisor come what may. It's just luck of the draw. You do need someone expert to take a look at it though. If you have a strong thesis, then you just need to be told that. But if there are some problems, you also need to know that so that you can correct them.

Nearly Failed Viva
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Quote From lizziejamescaroon:
This is a great blog - thank you! And thanks so much for the info re originality. I had a PhD (Humanities)interview recently and the first question was 'how will your proposed research make an original contribution to the field?'. Threw me completely! The source material is untouched by the academy ie it is pretty niche but beyond that, I didn't have an answer! Beginning to understand the 'originality' thing a bit more..

Many congratulations on passing and your advice is really helpful, even though I am just applying.


That's nice of you! I might have taken a bit too long to get there. I guess once you learn how to write 80k words, it's difficult to lose the habit ;)