I'm having major problems with my PhD (see previous posts) and am desperately seeking advice.
Has anyone experienced a dispute between their external and internal examiner? I have gone through two revision periods over a two year capacity and my external is now requesting an unprecedented third revision period as she is still not satisfied with the extensive work I've done. My viva was in 2014 and I can't bear the thought of any more revisions - my thesis is 163,000 words and its narrative has been completely lost due to the requests of my external.
As it stands, my internal thinks I've done everything asked of me and wants it passed. My external, however, disagrees. There doesn't seem to be any official rules at my university as to what procedure should be followed in this instance.
Some of the new revisions being asked of me by my external don't even relate to previous reports which means the goal posts are being moved. This seems tremendously unfair and unprofessional to me.
My university are completely useless and keep running away from resolving the situation. I keep getting passed along to different people and nobody has answers. My last submission was in July 2016 and all I've received since then is an email telling me that a third round of revisions is being requested by my external (via special permission from the Deputy Vice Chancellor), which are only 9 sentences long and lack clarity. It is clear she will never want to pass my thesis.
Has anyone encountered a similar situation? Or does anyone know how their institution would deal with a disagreement between examiners?
I have not experienced a dispute between my external and internal examiner, but you have my sympathy.
Could you request for a third examiner to be brought on board? This is normally done when there is a dispute, which is your case. In my university, it is compulsory to list a third examiner even though the thesis would be sent out to two.
It is also very unusual that new comments/corrections be added/asked of you after your initial correction. Normally, you pass if you are able to address the comments/corrections asked by the examiners. Do you know who this external examiner is? Is it possible to remove her if she has conflicts of interest such as an opposite hypothesis to your thesis or supervising students with a similar project to yours? You can ask the third examiner to step in.
Another suggestion is to speak to your postgraduate coordinator and students union officer. You need to get the support from your postgraduate coordinator to help you out (if you have not already done that). Do meet with the students union officer to see if the university has deviated from its normal procedure or if your students rights have been abused in your case. Sometimes, university acts faster if they know you have approached the students union (or even a lawyer in other cases).
Do keep us up to date with what you do. Good luck.
What a horrible situation. A third round of revisions! Ideally, at least at my former university it would have gone to a third examiner if an agreement could not be made as opposed to making you do yet ANOTHER round.
I agree with what tru has said, try those methods and keep us up to date!
Thank you for your helpful replies. I may well request a third examiner but this hasn't been put forward as an option for me as yet. After submitting my thesis 3 times, I really don't want to go back to a 'first submission' stage and have to endure a viva and possibly more corrections depending on the sanity of my new examiner (if you'll pardon my scepticism).
I met with the chair of my examination panel yesterday and very clearly outlined my concerns over the current situation. Although, at first, she seemed defensive of the university (as I expected), she gradually had little to say to me as even she wasn't aware of the full extent of fuck ups that have occurred throughout my PhD journey. The university aren't even aware that some of the requests of my external are completely new...yet they are supporting this. How do I know that, after submitting for a fourth time, my external won't have some more 'new' ideas to throw at me? It's ridiculous.
I have politely told the chair that I don't intend to do the revisions as they are either new or have already been addressed. I informed her that, at this stage, I am wanting a reconsideration of the current situation given the concerns I have (I prepared lengthy documents outlining my concerns, alongside the procedural irregularities that have happened over the past 3 years!)
The chair is now in talks with 'senior officers' (whatever that means) and I should hear back within a week so will keep you all updated. If you haven't been following my story: don't assume any positive or coherent outcome to be on the horizon. My university are beyond useless and likely to be sued if this carries on for much longer.
In my opinion your supervisor is right and you can't fail, as you've done the minor revisions that your pass was dependent on. I suspect your external knows that, hence all the delaying tactics.
I hope you hear something from the chair soon, and glad you're managing to stay positive. Hopefully the end is in sight now!
Good to know that you still have some fight in you. If you have PASSED with minor corrections, you cannot FAIL after your corrections.
For the potential appeal (hopefully you will never have to do it), have you sorted out the documents properly? In other words, have you printed out and documented every email, conversation and actions related to your case in a systematic manner? Have you drafted a cover letter referrencing every single evidence you have? You might want to start doing that if you have not, so that you are ready whenever you need to use them. Have you also spoken to the Student Union's Education Advisor or Lawyer (Assuming you have these at your university)? You might want to show them your documents and ask if there is anything else you might need. They can also advice you on who to appeal to, processes etc.University staff generally close ranks very quickly and may not point out the best resources for your case, unlike Students Union.
Besides this, can you check the interest of your external? Is she having conflicts of interest and that is the reason for all these delays brought on by her?
However, I really hope that you need not go through appeals. Speaking from experience, an appeal against any university staff/unethical conduct requires a lot of time and effort, even if the evidences are all in your favour. But then again, your revisions will take a very long time as well with no guarantee of a positive outcome. So, honestly, you have nothing to lose. I still hope your chair will come back with favourable news.
Thank you again for your supportive comments and helpful feedback - it really does make a difference.
The chair has informed me that she has discussed my case with a senior officer at the university (I don't know who this person is - no details were given to me). She told me that they are 'keen to get this issue resolved' and that I'll receive correspondence soon. Apparently this may take a week or longer because 'several steps have to take place'. She apologised for not being more specific but assured me that my case was being taken 'very seriously'.
So I have no idea what this means. Will I get an email in the coming weeks that will end all this and tell me that I'm being awarded a PhD? Will I get an email that says I am still expected to do a third round of revisions? Will I get told that the thesis must fail because my external examiner refuses to pass it?
These questions will be consuming my mind over the days and weeks ahead. I'm frustrated that the chair didn't give me more precise information as I feel I have been given hope and I don't want to build it up for it to be quashed once again. My university have mastered the art over the years of 'fobbing me off' in a variety of spectacular ways so I remain a cynic at heart...
I'll let you all know when I hear anything. Any positive vibes - please send my way!!
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