Major Changes to Thesis. Can't Really Face It


Had my Viva a few days ago and I passed with major changes. Everyone says I should celebrate, but I just feel beaten up. My external examiner wants a lot added about general background. However, he did not even mention my arguments, just picked holes in a few factual points. There are also typos all over.

I have six months to make the changes, but I'm just thinking I can't carry on with this thesis anymore. I'm just beaten up by the whole experience.


Congratulations! Major corrections means that you need to sit down and do the changes - 6 months is nothing and it can go pretty fast. As someone who had to R&R and resubmitted her thesis almost 2 years after the viva, I can reassure you that even if you were to wait for much longer, it is doable. You can certainly survive this. So, instead of panicking, getting sick of it all, and trying to avoid opening the file, be realistic. There is no way back now - you have to persevere. You are so close to getting your PhD that it would be silly to quit. Don't give up. You are almost there.


If you've been given 6 months to make changes then they probably aren't that big to be honest. Adding background is only limited changes in part of your thesis. And if you've got typos throughout you have to fix them.

So yes, get on with it. Do you want the PhD? If so knuckle down and get on with the changes. You will probably find they take a lot less time than 6 months once you get started.

At least you haven't been given a resubmission, or been asked to change your analysis. Honestly this doesn't sound so bad.

But have a break before you get started, to recharge your batteries, then pick yourself up and get on with it. Once you have the examiners' written report convert it into a list of very precise things to work on, then start working through that list. I recommend tackling the easiest things on the list first, to boost your confidence, and make sure you tick off the items as you complete them. Having a list like that will also be useful when it comes to writing the report of changes you have made that you send to the examiners with the updated thesis.

Good luck!


Congratulations. I was also given 6 months to do what is called "minor amendments" (so it was still a pass) and I finished the correction in less than 3 weeks!

So just get on with doing the correction!


The first thing to do is to create a table with query and response columns. Add all of the examiner feedback that requires action. For my table, I colour coded each record with green or orange. Green represents actions that can be sorted on the spot, or in less than one hour. Orange represents tasks that may take 1-2 days. Thankfully there were no red ones!

Start with the low hanging fruit - the typos. Then progressively work through the easier taks until you are left with a handful of orange tasks. You can then discuss the plan of action for these tasks with your supervisor. Have a column in your table where you can indicate the task is done and dusted.


BigTrombone, that's exactly how I felt with my viva outcome. It's exhausting to be given another mountain to climb just when you thought you'd reached the end. It can also knock your confidence to have someone pick at your years of hard work and find faults - that's the element I've struggled with most since I already felt like an academic imposter.

But the above advice is right. Focus on the fact you've passed, take a break and then start making lists.


I got majors too in May. But you passed- well done- now one more hurdle to get to wear the silly hat. You ONLY have to make the changes suggested. Ok, so you can make other changes too but it's a finite list. I felt like crap in May too, but honestly looking back it's fine. You will get there.


Corrections are hard to do. I think once you have mentally closed something off (to submit), it's really hard to start working on it again. I think you've been given good advice above, I found the list technique really useful. I took a few weeks off post viva to recuperate and then got straight in. My three months corrections took me two weeks.

Get corrections from examiner
Reformat into a list or table
Identify quick wins and bits that will take longer
Arrange an order to do them in that makes sense, e.g. I left page numbering, index, referencing and similar issues to the end once everything to be added was in
Alternate quick wins and harder tasks so you are making progress
Tick things off as you go
Write down everything you do as you go - use this in your response to the examiner
Final proof read/pagination etc.
Enjoy the feeling of being finished!


It's great to come on here and know that there are loads of others going through the same thing. I too have major corrections, they gave me a year as they want more data. I know exactly how you feel. But the fact that they didn't question your arguments or methodology means that they couldn't find any faults with it! I came out of my viva just wanting to go to bed and cry for a week. It took a friend to say, well they didn't question your methodology or results, they just want to see more data - you passed! This is the final hurdle, and it is hard to motivate yourself every day, but we're nearly there. As others have already said, having a plan and making sure that you keep a list of exactly what corrections they want and how you are doing them is very useful. Best of luck!


Something interesting from the wikipedia:
In the last two decades, several computer-automated experiments have been conducted to search for isolated fractionally charged particles. So far (2007), no evidence for fractional charge particles was found over more than 100 million drops measured.

Starting in 1908, while a professor at the University of Chicago, Millikan, with the significant input of Fletcher,[1] and after improving his setup, published his seminal study in 1913. This remains controversial since papers found after Fletcher's death describe events in which Millikan coerced Fletcher into relinquishing authorship as a condition for receiving his PhD. In return, Millikan used his influence in support of Fletcher's career at Bell Labs.