Still on my way home but wanted to post so I could thank everyone (Stressed et al.) and encourage those waiting (NearlyFinished et al.).
It wasn't easy but I am alive and have minor corrections. Will post about it tomorrow.
Take home message.......know the papers you quote, not off by heart but know what they found and methodology.
A Very Happy Exhausted PinkNeuron :-)
Congratulations Dr PN, hope you had a fab night last night and perhaps some big celebration planned! Let us know how it went when you've recovered sufficiently? 8-)
The viva....We sat around an oval table, internal next to me, external opposite and chairman to the right of the external. My supervisor was in the background, I could actually see him but tried not to look his way as he was supposed to be behind me and not give any indications.
I have to say firstly, I was so nervous, I was ill all weekend from pure nerves, I was physically shaking throughout from lack of nutrients I think and fear. My opening question was what I had found the most interesting and exciting out of my research. I was prepared for this and my findings are quite exciting, so this one I could handle well. THEN they literally got stuck into the thesis with the third sentence, challenging me on whether I still felt the hypothesis I had quoted from another researcher in the beginning still held true after doing my own research, a bit like a debate. Got through this one but then the next hour was spent questioning me on papers and studies I had used for background, which I was not well enough prepared for. One such question was: ‘You mention xxx’s study here, what they were proposing, was it a hypothetical statement or did they have empirical evidence for this’, for the life of me, I went blank. I started blabbing, the internal helped me out a bit and moved on after advising me to include more empirical evidence for this section. The next few bits went okay, two straightforward questions on some basic stats and my thesis was stats intensive. Fortunately, neither examiner had used some of the modelling stats I had used, so I was not quizzed on this, which was a pity, I could have done this bit easily! They had a few queries on words I had left out and the meaning had become ambiguous. The minor errors like typos they did not even touch, they said they were sure I was aware of them by now, they would just send me a list. They mentioned I had some repetition I needed to delete and they wanted a table of summary results (I completed 5 studies) in my main discussion as they found they had lost track by the time they got to the discussion. I was questioned about one study I had referenced and I have to confess, it was now 2 hours into the exam and I just nodded and agreed to adding more detail linking it more closely to my work and the differences compared to my study. It was at this point that I was convinced I would have a revision and not pass and I had to keep my focus because I felt my mind wandering. They finally asked me what could be improved, in my opinion, what the shortcomings were and that is where they ended off. Their final question was whether I had enjoyed the research. It took 2 hours and 20 minutes.
My supervisor and I went out for a quick break where he assured me I had done well but I didn’t believe him. They asked us back in quickly and said ‘I am sure that you know, it’s just minor corrections needed, you have passed’! I think I just stared for a second with my jaw on the ground and I blurted out that I thought I had failed! My supervisor then rushed out and returned with cold champagne and glasses, he was confident all along. The external then said how she had enjoyed my thesis, it had very few typos and errors (I was so stressed over my 25 errors I found) and she found my research really exciting and would I come up to her university and present some of my work to her department. I honestly had to sit down; champagne on an empty stomach is not good, my legs were still shaking, I had a booming headache from the stress and I was in shock. They had apparently signed it all off before the viva, they had already ‘passed’ me on my thesis, which was something to keep in mind for all of you entering your viva soon.
Did I actually enjoy it like other PhD students often say they did after it is over....I have to be very honest and say ‘no’. I feel I can say that ‘I survived, I got through it and I am glad it is over’. This could be much to do with my personality, I am not good
in exams, confrontational situations or oral presentations, so this was not easy but I wanted to be honest. But, hey, I am not dead .
Thank you for all of the congratulations. I got off the train at my home town (uni is 2 hours away) and my whole family was on the platform and they applauded as I stepped off the train :-). We shared a fine meal together with more champagne and there is still another bottle in the fridge :p.
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