I survived my 5 hour PhD viva (a nightmare) last November. I almost thought I would fail, but luckily the outcome was "pass with minor corrections." Then I received the joint report from the examiners. Some of the comments were vague and unhelpful. I worked with my supervisor to create a list of corrections and revised the thesis accordingly. I have not heard anything from the examiners after I submitted the corrected thesis. I sent them a follow-up email today, and they told me they did not have time to read the thesis yet. They also told me if they were not satisfied with my corrections, they would fail me outright.
I already emailed the PhD committee for clarification. I am quite anxious now. Does anyone encounter the similar scenario?
Congratulation on passing with minor corrections! I wouldn't worry because you still passed and it is very rare that you fail corrections. At my university if you make all the corrections in good faith they can't fail you. This is question has come up several times on this forum but no-one has herd of anyone failing corrections. So I wouldn't worry about your minor corrections failing.
In an examiner's position, if they give minors then fail, they're effectively throwing 3+ years of work in the trash, in the likely event there's not a window open for them to ask you to correct the corrections. It's sometimes the case there is, but at many unis there isn't, and that's not necessarily a bad thing when you think how it might end up in an endless cycle of iteration towards the unicorn that is a 'perfect' thesis.
If they have a simple choice of pass/fail, it makes it very unlikely they'd fail. The 'perfect storm' that would enable this is a student that does little or no work on the corrections, and resubmits the same thesis, coupled with an examiner who's sufficiently aggrieved by the fact they've taken none of their feedback onboard to proceed to fail.
You can't control the latter but can control the former. It's dangerous to think minors will never fail, if you then work on this assumption and do absolutely nothing to address them (even if accepted, this means it's likely a weaker thesis). But it's also the case that if you put clear effort in, a fail is bordering on the impossible. It sounds like you have worked substantively on them, so you should have very little to fear.
That said, it is not uncommon for examiners to take several months to approve. You, generally speaking, should not be emailing them, email your graduate school and get them to harass. They are being honest saying the ~50k words you just landed on their desk ontop of teaching, grants, and the whole mess of covid is not a priority and they will get to it when they get to it. I'd be more worried if they turned it round inside a week that they'd not bothered to actually read it, which might seem a good thing if you still pass, but you'd probably want to pass based on a rigorous review and some useful final comments, rather than on the back of a 'yeah, whatever'.
Thanks for your reply. Luckily our University allows candidates to resubmit changes if examiners are not satisfied. Therefore it will not be a simple choice of pass or fail. I am quite worried that my corrections were not in line with the examiners’ expectation, because some of the comments in the examiners’ report were vague. I asked the examiners to clarify a bit, but they used the ambiguous phrases such as “ I am just curious” and “you can address it later.”
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