Keeping it a secret


======= Date Modified 31 Dec 2011 17:20:33 =======
My viva is in February, but I have a confession to make: I've been keeping it a secret from my family and a few of my friends. The idea of telling them just seems to make me more anxious. I think one reason is I don't want to hear the "it's okay if you fail" speeches right now, which is the reaction I know I'll get from certain people. Sure, I know it's okay if I fail, but I don't want to approach the viva in that frame of mind! (That's why I like the positive energy on this message board!) I realize another reason for the secrecy is I want to avoid the embarrassment of having to tell them I failed. I'm okay with the possibility of revisions, I just don't want to fail.

I've had some setbacks because of major family issues, and one friend even told me outright, "You'll never finish!" I haven't mentioned anything about my studies in a long time, so I think they believe I've given up on it. A part of me wants to share the news, and the excitement. I would also like to talk about my work, which will probably help me with my presentation...Just not sure what to do!

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hubs didn't tell his family and I haven't told mine. I think its the best solution really - takes all the pressure off. I just wish the other people in my department didn't know! The thought of having my mum buying a 'congratulations' card and then for her to have to put it away because I failed is mortifying - I'd rather not have the stress of those negative thoughts!

Hubs just took a day off work and then we phoned everyone in the evening - they were all so surprised as they too thought he'd given up on it!


I never told a single person and think it was the best thing as it took a massive amount of pressure of me. I felt very relaxed from submission to the day before viva simply because no-one asked about it (my nerves completely went the day before but I was by myself for the whole day and so no-one clicked on as to why). Do what will get you through it.


Only a few people know the actual date but quite a few know it's January. I say 'January' unless somebody actually asks me specifically when it is. I couldn't bring myself to actually lie if asked the date. Of my friends who do know the date I think they have played it really well and haven't really asked me about it. I wish one particular friend would though as I would value her advice beyond all others - I'm never happy!!! Hoiwever, I have gone to ground a bit email and phone wise. For those outside academia, they think I already have it and don't 'get' that it's still very possible to fail even after submission. For them, the thesis or as one person said 'your essay' is the PhD. If it doesn't go well in the viva I won't be telling these people anything. For those who do understand the possible moritification if I fail is stomach churning.


Quote From ady:

I wish one particular friend would though as I would value her advice beyond all others - I'm never happy!!!

Ask them!

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I wish the examiners could email you 2 weeks after submission and say "btw, we think its a pass, so the viva is just a chat" - I can't begin to think about failing - it would be mortifying. BUt I had some issues with supervision in the last few weeks meaning that large chunks (i.e. 20-30,000 words) were never read. Very scared that its all a pile of rubbish and will fail!


I agree Sneaks. The thing that really got to me was that I'm pretty sure my supervisor didn't read my thesis or all the chapters as I went along and I'm pretty sure the examiners were the first to read it. I'm still very uptight about the supervision or real lack of it but can't go into detail on the open forum. I think the viva is not a fair system and I've always maintained that and I think it's terrible putting someone through it (as an examiner) knowing you're probably going to fail them. It reminds me of the phrase, "setting them up for a fall". I think if a student fails, the finger should point to the supervisor because I can't see how a student would fail if their supervisor did their job properly. I really do think you'll be OK though. (up)

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it was a bit of an odd issue with my sup, I'll PM you -I'm just a bit anxious abotu it all now!


I was reluctant to tell many people in case I failed or got major revisions. Many friends and family members felt that I would quit once my children were born as clearly studying at this level as a new mother was ridiculous!! Part of me knew how many 'I told you so' I would receive if I failed, so not telling people my viva date was actually the easiest option. I worried about telling my mother who was hugely supportive and proud, as I didn't want to disappoint her by failing. The thought of my viva alone was looking likely to send me running into the sunset before I reached the viva room door!

In the end the only people who knew the actual date was hubby (naturally as he had to look after the children), my childminder (who was incredibly supportive for my weeks of prep), my mother and father (on condition they did not call or text until I made the first move) and my supervisors. I was happy to keep it this way as these were the people who had truely supported and believed in me :-x

Above all you need to do what suits you the best and makes you feel the most composed. Good luck!


Thanks very much, everybody! I thought I was being weird, but apparently I'm not the only one! I'll just make my phone calls when it's over...or find a hole in which to drown my sorrows!

I agree with your comments, Delta. It's not fair to let a candidate simply walk into the lions den with no support. At least tell the student if he or she isn't ready to submit. Fortunately, I have a great sup. Meanwhile, one of the examiners has a reputation for not reading anything. Let's see what happens.

Warm wishes for a happy new year to everyone on the forum!


I think that's a good idea, Dalmation: anything to relieve some of the pressure/anxiety. It's similar to when people don't mention their driving test until they've had it. It's easier not to have to worry about the expectations of others.


I had told my family and my parents in law about the viva. I had also told a few friends of mine - and news travel fast. When I received 'revise and resubmit' I never mentioned it - when I was asked I would simply said I have corrections to do, both minor and major and leave it as it is, without clarifying things. However, my family and my husband's family know about the R&R. My MIL in particular was certain that the viva was the absolute end of the PhD; of course, since she doesn't know the potential results of a PhD viva, even thought I had tried to illuminate her on this. She had even taken time of work so they visit me on the day after the viva for a surprise party. When she called that night and I told her about the R&R in 12 months she was not sympathetic at all. My parents congratulated me for everything saying that I did a great job and with a bit of extra effort I will be done with it, but MIL was acting like a b...(sprout)

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oh no! Sorry to hear about your MIL! That's part of the reason I don't want to tell anyone - hubs passed his with minors so there will be a lot of smugness from MIL if I have major corrections etc. She'll also want to take us out for a meal so she can show off for 2 horus in front of the waiting staff - I'll probably tell her in a few years if I pass. ;-)