Can I submit PhD thesis without supervisor's approval?


@ human: Thanks for the detailed reply. Your experience gave me some hope. I have a specific query, could I PM you?


Due to pressure to submit within a specific time frame, I submitted without my sups approval and obtained the resubmission verdict. Unlike the general conclusions on this page re R&R, I wanted the R&R verdict as it provided me with a second chance to reduce my thesis to 100,000 words. After a long wait after resubmitting, I received minor corrections verdict, submitted corrected thesis within 2 months (again without sups approval), obtained my PhD shortly after submitting corrected thesis and started my postdoc research job a week after graduation. R&R isn't the end of the world.


@Sunnychicka16 PM-ed you :-)


@ Pineapple30: HI! I have read your previous threads before and I am your fan :) I admire how you tackled all the problems but I did not know that you went against the advice of your supervisor and that is not once but twice! You surely have some guts. Just like you I also want RR but I am too afraid of failing or getting lower degree because I simply cant afford not getting PhD. I am a self funded and thus it is quite difficult. I always consider education as an investment. But I am realising that I have made a huge mistake. However there is no turning back for me :( BTW did you get your supervisor's support during Viva, selecting appropriate examiners and during your RR stage?

@human: I sent you a PM.




I was under considerable time pressure so there simply wasn’t time for them to provide detailed feedback. I also had to pretty much rewrite the entire thesis in about 3-4months (ie 100,000 words) which required me basically isolating myself and working really long hours to complete it in time. I was working shortly after my viva and my motivation was very low after viva, so progress was slow. My own fault perhaps in leaving things to the last minute!

I knew if I kept in close contact with sups, I would panic, so I needed to stay positive and just get it done by working independently. It obviously was a massive risk, one of which I wouldn't recommend at all, but I pulled it off :) Just before resubmitting my thesis, I knew the content was strong enough and my sups knew that it was unique enough and worthy of a PhD given length and complexity. Sups provided me with enough help (which they stated towards the end) so their was a reluctance from them towards the end.

However, the fear of an MPhil or outright fail was a very real fear and I was in tears before the viva expecting that outcome. The 5 month wait after the resubmission just confirmed that something was wrong- but luckily for me, there was nothing wrong with my thesis and obtained my PhD shortly afterwards.

I knew my sups would have really affected my anxiety levels, so I requested that they not attend. Sups probably hated me during the process, but I got through it :) Sups helped with examiners. No real support with the stress of RR and/or the waiting game. It IS possible to get through it! :) Took massive strength to cope with it all alone (pretty much!).

I'm just so pleased it's all behind me! I’ll never forget it! :) Everyone had pretty much given up on me at university, but I kept on fighting! :)

Onwards to completing a much less stressful professional psychology doctorate :)


Hello there those who bravely submitted without supervisor's approval!
I m just thinking about submitting without my supervisor's approval. I know some of you have done it. Do I risk not having a chance to nominate my external supervisor? Do I risk internal supervisor taking revenge on me for acting against my supervisor's suggestions? After all internal examiner will be a colleague or maybe even a friend of my supervisor. As far as I understand internal supervisor is chosen by my faculty isn't he/she?


Have you had annual reviews throughout your PhD? Usually one of those people will be your internal examiner. You should still be able to choose your external I think.

Why don't you have approval from your supervisor to submit?


I wouldn't recommend submitting without your supervisor's approval. You just increase your chances of having to do major corrections or revising and resubmitting.

We have supervisors for a reason. It's acceptable (and encouraged) to argue with your supervisor when you have different views on certain aspects of your thesis. Most supervisors are happy when their students 'defend' their work, as it shows they are becoming indpendent researchers (as long as you can convince them you are right). It's a completely different matter to undermine their position (and your PhD) by submitting without permission. It will only be a matter of time before all universities require supervisor signoff prior to submission.


@human can I have your opinion please? 5 years into PhD my supervisor tells me that I need at least a year more to submit. She has never said anything positive about my thesis, she s constantly 'concerned' and has no faith in me. At the same time she is from a very different field and maybe that s the reason why she keeps postponing all the deadlines-she does not know whether the thesis is good or bad substance wise. I still did not get comments on first full draft. The comments I have concern trivia and sometimes even rewriting things she made me write. I do not have time for a never ending story. My attempt to change a supervisor last year was unsuccessful as the 'independent' director of doctoral students told me off for childish attitude and said my supervisor was simply great. I didn't know they were friends....I need to submit to move on...I have lost hope that she will ever be pleased enough with it to let me submit it. I would love to have some reassurance from somebody in my department but I fear that I won't be granted any confidentiality.


Well here's my opinion for what it's worth. From your above post I would be inclined to agree with the director. You haven't demonstrated any reason for me to think that your supervisor is wrong to be 'concerned'. A thesis is a never ending story of corrections. Sounds like you need to communicate more effectively with your supervisor. You need to pin her down, tell her you want to submit asap, and get a list of what needs to be done and then do it.


Anyone who has had similar problem?


@desperatka 14

I understand your pain. My supervisor too, was not an expert of my area, hence was very persistent on asking me to revise and rewriting, because she is not sure whether they are good enough for a phd thesis.

I asked to change supervisor too, but told it was "too late", because I was in my final year. Although our university rule is that anyone can change supervisor "without questions'.

To be honest, my department only took my case seriously when an external party got involved by chance, and the department was forced to look into my case properly.

Does your supervisor has other PhD students? do they feel the same? (If so, you can work together to make a case)

Do you have anyone else in the department (or even outside the department) that you can get advise from? Technically there should be someone that you can talk to in confidential- I think by law university/department needs to have such role to deal with students' problems. If not, you can speak to the graduate school to see whether they can give you any advice.

Other option is you can tell your supervisor that you have other commitment/financial issues, which you have to complete the thesis by certain date. And it will force your supervisor to return the comments of your draft promptly and constructively.

Have this in writing.

I have a feeling your supervisor only read it when she/he is free only.


Thanks a lot for being so supportive. I know i need to stay as diplomatic as possible and try not to get in a conflict with anyone over PhD. I started even to think about transferring my PhD to another University. I know it is extreme but as I said I am desperate to finish it. I would love to send my thesis to someone in the field for opinion but who would read 250 pages for free?


Another option is to seek out 1 or 2 associate supervisors who can assist you with the more technical aspects of your thesis. Your main supervisor can focus on the 'big picture' aspect of your thesis and provide logistical and administrative support. This is essentially what I did for my PhD, and it worked.


i already have a second supervisor who is a great supporter of my main supervisor:( Any way I ll try to see if anything can be done via Graduate school @Sunnychicka16 what decision have you made?