Most likely outcome- Major corrections


Hi all,

I'm submitting in September and I'm polishing chapters, reducing the content and writing my final chapter.

I'm really worried as my supervisors have said that the outcome will most likely be revise and resubmit, ie major corrections. They said major corrections on the basis of the subject area and requests to rewrite sections, but not reanalyses (as they feel my analyses are robust enough). They also pointed out that one my supervisors had major corrections as well, due to the subject area and her personal circumstances- ie working full time.

It just feels like they've set me up for a fail and have very little confidence in me! They were so negative with me yesterday :( with virtually no positive things to say, other than you need to re write sections, redo tables and reduce the whole thesis to 80-85k words. etc etc. This is however, their approach- ie very critical and negative with seldom use of positive feedback.

This is the last thing I need as I'm struggling with my motivation as it is!

The temptation to walk is an attractive option.

But, on the upside, my supervisor said a few weeks ago that my PhD contains much more work than her PhD thesis and that my work is completely original and new within the field. They also ended supervision with discussions regarding external examiners, which I'm taking as evidence to suggest that their confident that I have some chance of passing a PhD. (I know that if was only good enough for an MPhil or fail outright, they would tell me!)

I received some positive feedback from post docs where I worked as an RA a few months ago and I nearly burst into tears! I wish I received positive feedback from my PhD supervisors.

But, I'm also wondering if I should be grateful for their advice as their explicitly telling me what needs to be done and their pushing me to the maximum in order to pass. It's just the way they go about things is destroying all my confidence and making me feel very depressed and unhappy!

Feeling sad :( but I'm resolved enough not to let this affect me too much.......


Hi Pineapple29, Try to focus on your work and not on your sups opinions. They may be right, but there may be other things going on that you are not aware of. I have been at the centre of personal political games between my two sups, with the obvious objective of pushing one of my colleagues forward for a post-doc position that I was more than likely to get - if I were allowed to submit my PhD within a certain time-frame. But here it is: my thesis suddenly becomes needy of a lot of corrections, all the original material that I have is suddenly "not enough", and so on...It' is sad, and honestly I battle with the temptation of dropping the project every day. But on the other hand, I have so much positive feedback from other scholars in my area (who are much more expert in the field than my sups) that I feel it would be a pity to throw away the work of three years. But it is tough, and in the end there is little that you can do other than your best. Work as much as you can and as well as you can and have trust in your own work. It is very difficult, but at least you know that you have tried.


Hello Pineapple!

Maybe we have the same supervisors! I always pretend to be a tough cookie and they always knock my confidence down. Feeling depressed and unhappy doesn't help progress. Put these feelings aside and try to focus on the last bit. Ignore everything that is not helpful/irrelevant and focus on the useful tips they give you. If someone says " Ooh, you are gonna get major corrections", it is not helpful so ignore it. If he says " Get rid of this, add this" this is a helpful comment, take it into consideration. They wouldn't let you fail, so keep going. They will probably give you some credit after thesis is completed. (gift)


======= Date Modified 22 Jul 2010 09:27:22 =======
Thanks for your replies!

I'm aware that given the state of my current thesis, I'm inclined to agree that it probably would be major corrections (as I know I can improve my writing style), but my argument is that I have until the end of September to submit, so I have time to polish my thesis and try to make the content as clear as possible and therefore perhaps tip the balance into minor corrections. I'm just upset that I now have 'this is only good enough for major corrections' running through my head which is very unhelpful when I'm trying to finish. Whilst they may be preparing me for it, its not helpful, at least at the moment (although I would question whether it would be helpful at all!). They have however, provided me with very useful tips on how to improve and said that my PhD is very original, detailed and extensive for a PhD which is helpful.

As my PhD area is very new and very unexplored, my supervisors have very little understanding of its content so perhaps are trying to help me make it as clear and consise as possible.

I do have some positive feedback from other academics within the field (who have more understanding of the content and are looking forward to reading my PhD/publications) and from feedback from other academics from the upgrading process ( who commented that my PhD was interesting unique area, candidate has the academic capacity to complete a PhD')  and I've also received feedback from the regulatory organisation involved with my PhD who are extremely interested in my findings. I've also had a major confidence boost from my most recent post doc RA post (I was promoted from a research assistant to a post doc/research associate after a few weeks) where I received very positive feedback ie that my work is worthy of a PhD/I have the academic capabilities to work at a postdoc level- unfortunately I had to leave to finish my PhD, but I know I have some positive foundations to draw from. So all in all, the above collectively point to more positive feedback and incentives to keep going.

I just wish that the my supervisors would recognise it as well! (rather than making me feel really stupid!).

Oh well, not long to go!


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See Pineapple, be thankful your posts make sense at least!! ;-)

It sounds like you've got plenty of good feedback on your thesis and your research so far, even if it's not from your supervisors. Saying as you know this is how they usually are, for better or worse (mostly worse I'd imagine..), just try to put their negative comments out of your head and concentrate on the constructive comments, and you will be fine I'm sure. They are probably just jealous your PhD is looking better than theirs was! :p


Hi Pine, don’t worry, you will be fine. One way out of this is by getting your viva fixed as early as possible. Perhaps within a month and please share with us when your viva is fixed and, I will share more on how to comfortably clear your viva. It works for me and I really hope it will work for you too. Hopefully with minor corrections. Cheers, happy researching, folks.


If a supervisor is feeding back that major corrections is the likely outcome I would listen to this carefully. Generally, anything you don't do now you will be asked to do later as a correction.

The fact that they have not come on heavy with comments about failure suggest that they are not doing it out of spite or because they don't like you. It is because they want you to be in the best position you can be in before going in there.If people are pointing out flaws and need for rewriting its because they are pre-empting your examiners. They have as much to lose as you do if you fail as it will affect their future grants and standing in the academic community.

If I am being honest it sounds like you are being oversensitive. This isn't about who has done a bigger project or threatening to walk. Its about doing what needs to be done in order to get through your viva. If you feel unhappy about getting feedback when you have a possibility of changing things, how is it going to feel when you defend your 3 years work in a setting where it is meant to be evaluated and ripped apart?


======= Date Modified 22 Jul 2010 19:33:29 =======
======= Date Modified 22 Jul 2010 19:32:47 =======
Hi Pineapple29, i wouldnt dwell too much on what your supervisor said, at the end of the day its the examiners that will judge your thesis. my advice, do the best you can and forget the rest. whatever the outcome in september, it doesnt matter, what matters now, is to focus at the task at hand and get your thesis done. as Joan Bolker said, the best thesis is a finished thesis!

if it makes you feel better, when i submitted my thesis, my supervisor said alot of negative critical things, and said i should work on it for another 3 months to get it up to par for submission! and he said this 1 week before my final submission! and i would have a brutal viva. both of which came to be untrue. I had a fantastic viva, and i really enjoyed it and i only had 1 page of typo corrections and had to write one extra paragraph which i did within a week. sometimes supervisors can be wrong.

right now, you need o just finish off your thesis and submit and then study for your Viva. put aside what your supervisors said, i know its hard, it took me ages to push those negative comments out of my head to focus enough to study for my viva.

Good luck! you'll be fine, just do your best, and know in your heart you did the best you could.


Hi Pineapple - It seems we are experiencing the same thing but the opposite way round. I get nothing but positive feedback from my supervisor (if anything). She never ever tells me how to improve my work. I handed in my first draft for the internal reader and for the first time got negative feedback to the extent he told me I would get major corrections. I set up a meeting with him to try and find out how to improve but was given no help whatsoever. My supervisor still thinks everything will be fine (despite her last student getting major corrections!).

Due to my funding deadline I have had to submit - and I am really unhappy with my work. I will be very very surprised if I am not given major corrections.

I was interested in the reply about advice on the viva by Sre292. I have mine on Tuesday... gulp! I had a 'mock' viva yesterday - although my supervisor's idea of a mock was actually 4 questions that lasted about 15 mins. The questions were useful to consider but this was not really a mock. Yet, my supervisor still things everything will be fine.

I have read around about viva tips and am currently preparing question responses to any possible question I can think of.
Does anyone have any additional advice to offer me and Pineapple?



Hi Rousey,

Thanks for your reply! I just wanted to wish you the best of luck with your viva. In an ideal world it would be great to have some middle ground don't you think?! Rousey, I find it shocking that your supervisor is so different- do you have another supervisor or someone you could talk to? and perhaps see if other postdocs could see your thesis for advice? From day 1, or at least with the first few submitted bit of work, they have concentrated almost entirely on how to improve with only very occasional words of encouragement, but that's not necessarily because my work is really bad (because other academics have seen my work and have provided me with loads of positive feedback!) If I had a mock viva with them, they would probably tear me apart with questions, so I know I'll have to be very well prepared and expect many awkward questions. All of my supervision sessions for over 3 years tend to be around 2-3 hours (as they go into very small details), so with a mock viva, Lord knows how long the mock viva will be!

Over the last few days, having picked myself off the ground, I've come to appreciate their brutal honesty as their only pushing me to pass at the end of the day. I have about 2 months to improve on my thesis, so I'm aiming for minor corrections rather than major corrections. My supervisors feel that the major corrections will involve rephrasing etc etc and not analyses, which I guess is good news, so I know exactly what to improve on. I'm just pleased that they think my thesis at the moment is definitely worthy of a pass, it's just a question of whether the examiners request extensive rephrasing throughout my chapters. If my writing is a big problem (and not anything else) then at least I know what I can improve on.

I'm taking today off from my thesis, but it will be full steam ahead tomorrow! Thanks for the responses everyone. x


I passed with minor corrections!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't even believe it!! I'm still in shock!!
It helped that at least 1 of my examiners didn't read it - but I'm not complaining!!!! It just shows that everyone has a different opinion and sometimes people can't see all the flaws you can! I'm so happy!!!!!!!!!

ps the viva was so much better (and totally different) than what I had expected!:-):-)


======= Date Modified 28 Jul 2010 17:19:14 =======

Quote From roushy:

I passed with minor corrections!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't even believe it!! I'm still in shock!!
It helped that at least 1 of my examiners didn't read it - but I'm not complaining!!!! It just shows that everyone has a different opinion and sometimes people can't see all the flaws you can! I'm so happy!!!!!!!!!

ps the viva was so much better (and totally different) than what I had expected!:-):-)

CONGRATULATIONS Dr. Roushy :-)(up):-) Very well done! You now need a good holiday, break or a big celebration!

Did any of the questions you anticipated actually get asked in the viva? And what do you mean "at least 1 of my examiners didn't read it"????! Did they sound like they (or one of them at least) hadn't read it?!!


Quote From roushy:

I passed with minor corrections!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't even believe it!! I'm still in shock!!
It helped that at least 1 of my examiners didn't read it - but I'm not complaining!!!! It just shows that everyone has a different opinion and sometimes people can't see all the flaws you can! I'm so happy!!!!!!!!!

ps the viva was so much better (and totally different) than what I had expected!:-):-)

Yaayyyyyyyyyy Congratulations Dr Roushy.

I hope you enjoy the celebrations!
Wow, one examiner did not read your thesis?! I'm dreading my viva :( especially if my examiners are as critical as my current supervisors :(

Anyway, I'm so pleased for your Dr Roushy. :)