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When do/did you know about the date of the viva?

I submitted and waited 8 weeks for the date which was for four weeks following. So, three months from submission.

How did I feel? A combination of utter dread and hope that I would soon be moving onto the next stage!

PhD resubmission - uni politics?

Quote From scaredgirl:

i had a similar problem with my internal being the one to shred my work completly even though she had clearly not read the lit review nor the results leaving me in tears at the end as she kept asking the same question yet rephrasing it then getting annoyed when i didnt answer the question as she saw it. i felt she missed the entire aim of the thesis and also my objectives (having clealry read very little of it) i thought i was unfair of the internal to criticise to much given they are supposed to be supportive yet i felt i was defending myself to her, not my external examiner!

Some of that sounds so similar to my experience of my external examiner. She had not read parts of the thesis and complained about the absence of information that was in there, but when I pointed this out her attitude went from bad to worse. She asked a question (which was actually about four questions in one), I asked her if she could clarify the question and she just repeated the same as she'd said the first time. After the fourth failed request for her to clarify I tried to respond and she just sighed and shook her head, I stopped and said that unfortunately I didn't fully understand what she was asking, her response..........'and therein lies the problem, well, one of the problems....'.

My internal just said there and looked out of the window.

I too ended up in tears at the end and grabbed my stuff and got the hell out of there. It was the most humiliating experiences of my life.

Back to Kathy5 though, you're not alone in this, I too seem to have become trapped in some sort of political mire. It is really unpleasant but just think how freeing it will be when you are finished (that's what I keep telling myself anyhow)!

A bit of a whinge and some queries....

Quote From joyce:

This is indeed a bad situation. I had a similar problem when I was doing my Fellowship exam viva, someone who decided that his idea was right and mine was wrong, but in this case the board phoned me up and apologised, I still had to do another viva, but it was so much better.

Who have you spoken to about this? What has the internal examiner said - you have presumably got written feedback from them both, were they in agreement?
don't take this lying down. You - or your sponsors have paid good money and you should not expect a fail at the end of it. there needs to be some explanation from them. Make sure you see someone about it
go to the student union, go to the head of your faculty, and the dean. They all need to give you an explanation, not only why they failed to give you proper support, but why they chose this person as your external.
The object of the exercise is not to please your examiners, but to present a coherent account of your research. It should not matter whether they agree or not, your findings are your findings, and unless you have made illogical conclusions which fly in the face of those who know better in your field, and you have not acknowledged their views, they should not hold this against you. It sounds as though your examiner was biased, and as such should have ruled herself out of being your examiner for that reason.

I'm not sure what they would offer as a 'consolation prize'. but if I were you I would go for the re-viva, but i would make it very clear that you expect them to do better with their choice of examiners, you need an external who does not have  the bias of the first, and an internal who will stand up to them. If you have to have the same examiners, ask them what they intend to do to make sure you have an unbiased viva.

good luck, and don't let them get away with it

Thanks Joyce for replying. Your situation does sounds similar.

I have previously checked out whether I could have a different external examiner and was told that I couldn't (although I didn't go into the detail of the situation when I made that request).

I have decided that I will talk to the grad school, and one of my supervisors about the situation, and be firmer than I have been in the past. I am also going to get the grad school to provide me with the appeals process and make it known that I will be appealing if I do not get the result I deserve. My sponsor was the ESRC and another body and I'm guessing they probably wouldn't be that impressed to know how the university has 'managed' my supervision.

I'm trying hard to find some fight to get through this next trial, and everyone's responses are helping with that. I did feel completely beaten and down-and-out. I reckon now I could bite a few ankles if needed! This is progress.

mytomatoes users

Nine today, I'm knackered!

Viva coming up soon :(

I don't have much useful to say apart from that it might not be as bad as you think! Many people go into the viva thinking the worst and come out pleasantly surprised.

Firstly, think how you would discuss the thesis as a whole - without sounding pessimistic. Then go through the bits of thesis that you are proud of and create some sort of aide memoir of those key areas.

Also, in terms of practicalities I guess I'd be trying to identify the areas of weakness and, taking each one in turn, make a list of bulletpoints of what the problems are and how you would address them - even compiling this will help you get your thoughts in order which will make it easier if they start questionning in that area.

The very best of luck.

mytomatoes users

Just started using it, really like it after my initial scepticism. I did eight yesterday but have only managed five so far today (for various reasons).

Wow, there's some big-hitters below though :-)

Uni PhD Degree taken away. Is it possible?

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I think you'd be more at risk of undermining your phd position by doing as he has asked. Your findings are your findings, if someone else finds something different then so be it. That's the nature of knowledge generation.

This guy is obviously trying to pull a fast one of some sort....in short, if you don't need him then tell him to bugger right off (only mentally) and ignore him. If you do need him then try and keep it civil but politely and firmly stick to your guns.

I just want to cry

I agree with the others, let your supervisors know and ask for an extension. This might help relieve some of the pressure for you and will enable you to put a better chapter together. After all, if you hand in something that isn't great then they only have to spend more of their time reading / making suggestions etc.

Best wishes in all of this, life really sucks sometimes.


A bit of a whinge and some queries....

Quote From bewildered:

were you by any chance pushed to submit before you felt ready because of the ESRC deadline for their students to submit? If so, it suggests your institution may be struggling to meet ESRC completion targets, in which case your graduate school has a very strong vested interest in helping you to finish here so that they don't get penalised by the ESRC.

I also think your graduate school needs to know about the fall out between this examiner and your school.

I think depending on your institution's rules that there may be a case for the appointment of a new external.

Does your student union have an academic advice centre / person - if so I'd go there first, run the tale past them and see what they think the rules are. A rep from there might be willing to help you get an appointment with the head of the grad school without hassle and to go to the meeting with you to make sure everything is done by the book.

My final thought with the corrections demanded - you say you agree with a lot even if you hate the way it's phrased. Could you start by doing the things you agree would make for a stronger thesis? That might help you move forward.

Regarding your questions b, c, d and e - personally I'd start with trying to avoid failing.

There's no harm looking at the appeals procedure because I think that prejudiced examiner or similar would be a category. Basically if you point out to the grad school that if they don't replace the external for the reviva that will be the grounds you will be appealing under and that you have the evidence to hand, namely the post-viva spat, then they'd be daft not to do something. Oh and if you're awarded an Mphil I'm pretty sure that no you don't have to cut it down and yes you could still appeal. Good luck.

Hi there,

Thanks for the response, it's really helpful...

Yes, I was pushed to submit before I was ready. In terms of supervisors things had been difficult as supervisor #1 left his university post when I was about 14 months into the thesis - he no longer works in academia and has continued to be my supervisor in his own time and without ££ from the university, he also moved to the other end of the country. Supervisor #2 is a wonderful man who has held very senior positions in the university but has never taught, never supervised and has not done a PhD, nor is my research his area of expertise. He was forced to supervise as part of a department reshuffle and landed me. #2, however, has become by default my primary supervisor and it sometimes feels like the blind leading the blind.... I feel that the institution has let me down in this, but haven't kicked up a fuss as I am very fond of both supervisors. This, however, may become an issue if I am in a position of appealing soon.

I am working through the corrections, am probably nearly done but have no faith in my thesis anymore - I thought it was pretty decent last time....:-(

I just feel that I've had such a kicking and have little left to give. I want to shake this feeling off as it really isn't like me, I am usually such a fighter. Although, talking about it properly is very helpful.

Anyhow, thanks for the advice, it's given me some direction.

A bit of a whinge and some queries....

Quote From sarahk5275:

Hello Angel,

It's good to see you back, I just wish things had worked out better for you. You might want to try speaking to the Students Union as I'm sure they would have someone who could help particularly because this seems to be more about academic politics than it does about your thesis. Another option would be to investigate the possibility of getting a different external examiner or an additional external- I don't know if it is possible at this stage but it's worth a try but you'd need to ask your graduate admin staff. It may also be worth speaking to the graduate admin staff because they will know the rules and regulations much better than the academics and probably could give you some advice. If I was in your position I would also try for extenuating circumstances given the health problems the PhD created for you.

I totally understand how you feel about the whole resubmit process. I had another viva last January and was given 6 months for minor corrections. I handed those in and one of the externals came back at the end of September with something else which he hadn't picked up until I handed the minor corrections in. I'm still sorting it out now because my full time job is so busy that I rarely get much time to work on it. I am sick and tired of my thesis and I hate it.

Looking on the bright side and with some luck we'll both have a PhD by the end of 2010 ;-)

Hey Sarah, I was wondering how things were going for you and I'm sorry to hear it is still rumbling on - I can't believe that the external came back again :-( ...... but, you are very nearly there (small consolation at this stage, I know). How long is it since you started? I am now entering year seven

I haven't really thought about going to the grad school - I guess because I am so jaded and suspicious and see them as being 'of' the institution. The only thing I have asked about is the possibility of getting a different external and I was told that this was not possible. I didn't, however, go into the reasons for the request.

Thanks for your words of support, I need to have a think about the best way forward with the grad school etc, or I just soldier on and take whatever's coming next!

What's your all time tomato high?

Well, I've given the tomatoes a try and I like them. Five today, so far, going to try for another one now. Thanks for sharing this.

A bit of a whinge and some queries....

Quote From moomin:

oh I feel your pain. You sound like you've had a terrible time with this. feel very sorry for you and also that you deserve a big well done for being prepared to carry on after such an awful experience. This covers several questions which I have looked into, although I can't answer them all I would look very closely at your student charter and your rights. Go to your grad school - they are there to support YOU (at least should be). Get tough with them, if they put you through the internal progress reports and passed you they have (at the very least) some responsibility for all of this. All too often PhD students are dumped with all the crap and those who should be shouldering the responsibility get away with it. I really hope it works out for you.

Hi Moomin (I love Moomins btw). Thanks for your kind words.

I will look at the institution's student charter and talk to the Grad School - I don't know why but I really had not thought about going to them. I might talk to them and see if there is anything I can do about the requirement to re-viva and raise my previous problems with panic attacks etc (the internal examiner said to my supervisors that he didn't think I needed to re-viva as I had defended and discussed my thesis very well, but he has not said this 'officially'). If I knew I did not have to go through the viva again I think some of my feelings of dread and sadness might be lifted.

thanks for your suggestions, I'll let you know how I get on.

A bit of a whinge and some queries....

Hi Esk,
Thanks for taking the time to reply, it really helps to know that others go through tough times and emerge at the other end (logically, you know this but the phd is a very lonely and isolating process at times).

I feel desperately miserable about the whole situation and don't really talk to my friends and family about it anymore, I am bored of it myself and I don't want to inflict it on others!

I have all the documents relating to my annual progress reviews, all my notes from supervisory meetings, feedback etc following the viva. But, part of the issue is that I really feel like I've had the stuffing knocked out of me and don't know if I could even 'fight' them.

I'm glad to hear that you've got your mojo back and hopefully I will have too (sometime soon)

What's your all time tomato high?

I have never seen this site before, thanks for bringing it up. I'm going to have a crack at it tomorrow.

A bit of a whinge and some queries....

I had an ESRC studentship to do my phd and was recruited to 'do' a research question. It wasn't really my area of interest but I knew it was my best bet of doing a funded phd.

I submitted and had my viva nearly 18 months ago - I was utterly annihilated, it was a vicious, humiliating experience that left me in emotional distress. I had not been happy about the choice of external, she was the third of a list of three and I had concerns that she simply would not like my approach. As it transpired, I was right. She started the viva by telling me she 'hated' my work...... three hours of total humiliation later I left the room having been given 12 months to re-submit. She did tell me, however, as I was leaving the room that if it had been left to her she would have failed me......she also insisted that I must re-viva. :( She also criticised one of my supervisors and told me that I should not have taken a job whilst writing up (I had no choice if I wanted to keep a roof over my head). The internal examiner just sat there like a plonker.

I should say that I had flown through the internal annual progressions and that this is a red-brick, respected university and a research institute of some reknown. There was significant fall-out over this situation - 'my' research institute pretty much fell out with 'hers' and a seminar she was going to give was cancelled by one of my supervisors (who was director of the unit at the time). It became very vicious.

I had a year but, because of this and other issues, I developed significant anxiety issues and started experiencing full-blown panic attacks. I did very little in the first six months and then when I started, I went into 'melt-down' every time I had to engage with the feedback (which is pretty brutal although I do agree with many of the key points). I finally started work on the thesis then was made redundant from my job, unexpectedly. This knocked my confidence again. I applied for a six month extension, which was granted, I am now to re-submit in March.

I have massive issues with the thesis, I loathe the whole thing and begrudge every second I spend on it. I have no interest in working in this field, do not want to pursue an academic career and generally just don't feel it's of importance to me - all I want to do right now is go and find a job (I am in terrible debt) . However, pragmatically, I know I may as well just try and finish it and re-submit. I am *terrified* of the re-viva though.

After that tail of woe I have some queries:

a) Is there anything I can do to avoid the re-viva?
b) feel I have been let down by my institution (for a variety of reasons), if I am 'failed' (which I suspect I will be), is the first recourse to appeal?
c) Do I need a solicitor to appeal?
d) If I was to be offered a masters, instead of the phd, do I have to accept it or is there still recourse?
e) If I was offered a masters do I then have to get it down to masters 'size'

Thanks for reading. Any advice