I don't even know what to write. I've been crying for hours trying to understand what has happened.
I submitted my PhD, did my viva and was given an R&R (please see my old posts for more details). I worked so hard over a 9 month capacity to do all the corrections asked of me. I provided my examiners with a separate document detailing all my corrections etc. My resubmitted thesis was massive (153,000 words) but they had asked me for more chapters and told me to take NOTHING out.
After a 3 month wait, I received an email this morning from the office saying that I had been given 6 months revisions. After much confusion, they then clarified that this meant minor corrections. I was relatively happy with this - it looked like no second viva needed to happen and that the end, although prolonged, was in sight.
An hour later I received another email from the office apologizing that they had given me the wrong result and that my examiners had actually decided it was insufficient standard for a doctoral award and that I could resubmit in 6 months and endure another viva if I wanted to go for an MPhil.
I've been ringing my supervisors and they're not responding to my emails or phone calls. I just got off the phone with my internal examiner (she was the only person to pick up the phone). She was clearly gobsmacked by the fact I had called her in tears but no one is giving me any answers. The office said the reports from my examiners are still incomplete so I can't even find out the reasons why they failed it.
I have wasted five years of my life, have bound copies of two massive PhD thesis' just staring at me...all my career prospects have just shattered in front of me (I'm currently lecturing and wanted a career in academia).
Please can anyone tell me what my options are? I'm absolutely devastated. Crying whilst typing.
I'm so sorry to hear this. How did they manage to make a mistake like that? I hope they have made another mistake and you have been awarded the PhD. I guess your internal has confirmed the outcome though?
I don't have any advice for you really. Maybe you can dispute the outcome once you have received the final reports? It just seems so unfair.
I'm so sorry to hear this. It sounds like you have been treated horribly, and to be given the wrong result by mistake is just awful. I hope there is a way to dispute the results, or at least to get some time with your supervisors to sort out what exactly happened and where to go from here. I hope someone here will be able to tell you what the next steps might be, but in the meantime, please take care of yourself because you've had such an awful shock.
I'm so sorry to hear about this. Did your internal examiner confirm that this was the outcome she and the external had agreed? Did she give you any explanation when you spoke to her?
For the moment, I would take some time away from all this if you can. Now that you have emailed your supervisors and examiners, you've done what you can for the moment. Is there a friend or someone who can come around and take you out for a drink / a movie / a walk? I think you need some distraction just now and some human company.
Once you've heard back from your supervisor - if they confirm this is the outcome and the office haven't made a mistake - I would consider your options for an appeal. You normally can't appeal on the basis of the academic decision being wrong, but it's worth checking if there were any procedural problems - any failures to comply with regulations - and speaking to a student union rep or someone like that about your options. But for now I would definitely get away from the house and the computer and distract yourself as much as possible.
Gwen's advice is very sound on letting the dust settle and spending time with people who matter to you. You are much more as a person than a PhD candidate, and while this is really upsetting, you need to be reminded of that right now by people who love you.
Some practical thoughts: Do not delete those emails from the office. I'm amazed they released a result and erroneously as well without the documentation having been submitted and signed off by the relevant dean - that's appallingly bad practice. Whatever else you do, I would make a formal complaint about that at some point, even if it's a lesser concern than the actual result right now.
Keep copies of everything relating to the examination on a non-university account. Get a copy of every regulation and good practice guide relating to the examination of a PhD at your university that you can find. Your supervisors are quite probably already trying to find out the facts in the case, before they speak to you, as without the reports there's not much anyone can do. But once you have the reports as Gwen advises then I'd look to see whether there are any grounds for appeal. It is usually not acceptable for the examiners to bring up wholly new concerns after an R&R for instance. You need to think like a lawyer and analyse this as unemotionally as you can. Hopefully your supervisors will be doing this too. Any causes for concern need to be brought to the attention of the head of your department and the relevant dean in your faculty in a very formal manner, so that they know you are serious.
Are you working at a different place with the contract dependent on this result? If so, do not notify them yet. If you intend to appeal, the process is not complete and you are not obliged to say anything until it is.
Anz, I am heartbroken for you. I am also shocked. This system is just ridiculous and pardon my french but what a knob of an examiner you got. This is just silly.
Please take care of yourself. You are someone's best friend, someone's daughter, perhaps sister, mother etc... There are people that care very much about you and will be there for you right now. Don't suffer this alone or feel that it has all been a waste. Please mind yourself and don't do anything rash.
Definitely when the time is right mount an appeal about this and, as others have advised, also take them to task for giving you the wrong results. I remember they also lost the initial reports on you - the admin at your uni don't sound very professional. There are people who have posted here before who have taken on and won their cases against the university and examiners.
I have every faith that you can and will go on to publish extracts from this thesis. You just had the bad luck to get one massive knob of an examiner who I really hope someday will realise what they have done.
Sick for you, Anz. I am so, so sorry. But definitely appeal this. This is just not on.
I'm so very very sorry to hear about your experience. You've been treated appallingly by the graduate office.
Like everyone else has said, get a friend/family member round, and try and get some distraction. It is obviously utterly devastating, but take some time out, and look at what to do next in a few days time when you are feeling less emotional.
Anz, really sorry to hear about your experiences, which are very similar to my own. I understand how devastated you must be feeling, so wanted to share some practical advice - and possibly a glimmer of hope. My examiners also 'moved the goalposts' to MPhil after I'd submitted PhD corrections, and it's been a long but eventually successful process to get them overruled, the thesis re-examined, and the PhD belatedly awarded. In terms of immediate guidance:
1. Familiarise yourself with your uni's examination rules and appeals process (esp deadlines for challenging a decision, and the grounds under which you can do so).
2. Use the Data Protection Act: Submit a Subject Access Request to the the Data Controller at each examiner's university. Ask to see each person's emails and records relating to you or your PhD, from the time at which they were appointed to the role. They are legally obliged to provide this information within 40 days, and can charge £10. This can highlight any procedural irregularities, bias etc that would otherwise be left to speculation.
3. Contact Daniel Sokol at Alpha Academic Appeals. He will give you an honest idea of whether you have a case, work efficiently to draft a statement, and (if allowed by your uni) represent you an an appeal hearing. Admittedly expensive but money well spent. In an ideal world, such support should be readily available through your institution/student union etc but that certainly wasn't the case for me.
I do hope this can be of some help or consolation.
yes it is terrible what happened to you though unfortunately it is not only related to you in England . I have seen crap Thesis to get an easy pass, good and hard working Thesis got stuck in somehow.
I believe that the system to assess PhD works should be reviewed in England. What is the point to do a PhD in England if it can be easily turn into a nightmare throwing 3-4 years of hard working in a bin. Based on this, a potential PhD would prefer to go to US, Canada, or Australia rather than England also in the light of increasing tuition fees of English institutions.
I totally agree with Pjlu, Scrabbler have provided very good insights to deal with your case. Unfortunately, you have to spend some money and time just for bad people.
I am interested to know where the thesis fell down? Was it in the methodology chapter, or the conceptualisation that frames the thesis? Because if those two areas are strong, then a thesis cannot fail...it might need improvement, but is sounds like you did what they asked you to correct...good luck and keep us posted about the outcome...
With respect, it's not necessarily a case of where the thesis 'fell down', as the one thing you can't appeal is academic judgement (however unfair this may seem). Rather than focusing on the actual outcome, it's important to try and find out whether this decision was reached jointly and in accordance with university regulations - which may require some detective work.
Firstly I think i is a bit funny that your supervisors have cut you off. I means they were in on it. Please read my post many academics have the impression of unlimited power because of their tenure. There are a lot of politics involved and they also take pleasure in making people look dumb just because they feel smarter. Just look around you there are so many foreign students not very bright that cannot type and get proper PhDs, it is honestly all about politics nothing to do with you.
If you want to save you ass:
1)Make an appeal saying that they have made scientific error in correcting your work and state a few reasons
2) Ask to have it re-assessed by people who are not related to your university and whose names will remain hidden to all you faculty
3) Make a formal complaint against the examiners for slander and discrimination
Try this it can only get better
-A fellow discriminated PhD
Most university regulations don't allow students to appeal exam results - including PhD results - on the grounds that academic judgments are mistaken. (For example, UCL's guidebook says "There is no right of appeal against an academic decision" and directs students with complaints to the student complaints procedure, which is completely focused on procedural mistakes made in conducting the exams. You can find similar wording in handbooks at SOAS, and Birkbeck, and KCL and Manchester, to pick a few other universities at random). If you exhaust university appeals and want to go to adjudication or to the courts, at least in England and Wales, the same applies. The U.K. courts don't think that they have the expertise to evaluate the substantive merits of an academic judgment, and will refuse to do so; they can and do evaluate whether a person was treated unfairly in the process of making and communicating academic judgments.
That's why everyone is advising a focus on the process of the viva, identifying occasions when the university or university personnel behaved unfairly (eg in this case, failing to allow the student access to the first viva report for months). It's not to be mean, it's because that's the kind of appeal that has a chance of success. On the other hand, appeals on the basis that the examiners were wrong about the merits of the thesis are very unlikely to succeed in this country.
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