I have just returned from my viva, and wanted to get some info down here. It has helped me so much reading everyone else's experiences I thought it may help someone else to hear about mine.
Outcome - well I passed, with what they classed as 'medium' corrections. I know this is not a category, but they gave good reasons. They were happy with my thesis, found it interesting and enjoyable, and thought it made a good contribution to knowledge. The corrections they have given me are varied, and include splitting my long discussion into two chapters, and defining my reasons for methodology more clearly. Also, they feel there are are a few more studies I can add to my lit review to widen the scope, and accordingly review again in the discussion. also typos etc
They have given me the option of major corrections rather than minor, as they think they will take me more time to fix than the minor corrections time limit will allow, and they are taking into account that I work full time.
I am not sure how I feel about this yet, or whether I can allow myself to feel I have passed until I do the amendments to their satisfaction. The option they have gone for under univeristy regulations suggests a repeat viva, but both examiners think that should not be necessary and are not expecting to have another one, which is good.
I think I am pleased????? Most of what they asked me to do makes sense, a lot of it is straightforward and just involves a little more writing, some of which I have already done and cut out!:p
I do not have to do any more research or data analysis, and the emphasis is on restating some things rather than adding new stuff- they said what I had written was good, sometimes the way I had written it did not do my work justice.
The viva itself - lasted about 3 hours or just over. It went really, really fast. I was shown into the room and introduced to the examiners by my supervisor, who then left. They poured me a glass of water, and offered me a bikky, which i refused lest I vomit on their shoes! I was so nervous, but they started off with easy questions, such as what my background is etc, and led into questions about how I chose my topic and why. There were lots of very specific questions about the theory I had used (criminology) and about my methodology, what I did, and why I did it that way. They also asked me what I thought was the original contribution. It was challenging but very friendly. The discussion was interesting and thought provoking. They were pleased with some of my findings, and said I represented myself well. The main thing I need to process is that it is possible to understand on an intellectual level that criticism is constructive and will make the thesis better, but hearing it when you are emotionally overwrought (As I was with nerves) is a different matter. Even writing this is helping.
I am rambling now so will go away, but will happily come back and add more info, or answer any questions.
Congratulations Dr Kikuka!!! Your outcome (pass with corrections) is, I believe, the most common outcome following a PhD viva so you should DEFINITELY see this as a PASS, hurrah!!! I remember feeling quite spaced out (and exhausted!) after my viva and it didn't sink in for days that I had actually passed, the end of a very long road! :-)
Sounds like the examiners felt you gave a good account of yourself and have done robust research but the context you put it and the way (style?) of the discussion needed tidying up. So yes you deserve a big pat on the back - well done.
Can I ask two follow on questions:
Firstly do you agree at an intellectual level with the examiners criticisms of your Thesis - can you see why they made these?
What impression did you have from your supervisors about the Thesis prior to submission. Had they made comments that with retrospect could be seen as agreeing with the examiners conclusions?
Well done again.
======= Date Modified 26 Jan 2011 17:09:41 =======
Congratulations Dr Kikuka :) Thank you so much for providing such a detailed and very helpful post.
I have my viva in mid March and I already feel like bursting into tears! I'm so scared of failing my viva it's unreal! According to my sups, my best outcome will be a revise and resubmit with a possibility of an MPhil :( I would be over the moon if I received a revise and resubmit! I'm also interested in your response to Dafydd's question- did your supervisors predict the same outcome prior to the viva?
I'm planning to start the viva preparations over the weekend. How did you prepare for your viva?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the celebrations!!!!! WELL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xxx
Congratuations (up) and thank you for such a generous post.
Only yesterday I was told that often conclusions are questioned and that a relatively common correction is to 'rejig' the conclusion so that it speaks much more confidently. The same person (who has been both an external many times and also a viva chair) also said how important it is to state your positionality in your introduction; again that sounds what your examiners were saying. It's great they said to you that have made a good contribution to knowledge - well done.
Put the feet up - you deserve it:-)
Congrats, and thanks for the story. I'm almost disappointed not to have to ask what they asked you, as you've done so well.
As you've said it seemed they've asked you to be more confident in your findings - what a lovely outcome, they seemed to think it was better than you did.
So you've better than passed. Be proud.
Thanks to Chuff, Ady and Pineapple and others.
I just wish they had been able to say minor corrections, so I didnt have to go through the resubmit which I think is what may be bothering me. The main reason they didn't was becasue of the time limit that imposes. Unfortunately the resubmit is a requirement of anything more than minor corrections under regulations, even if they say it will be ok once I follow their suggestions.
I guess I am still a bit mixed up!
Hi. Just an update, having slept on it, I feel a lot more positive about the whole experience. For those wondering exactly what questions they asked, this is what I can remember
Why did you choose this topic? Did this come from previous studies, or from other experiences (because I work in Criminal Justice)
What is the most original thing about the thesis?
How could this apply to practice in the area
What would other theorists say about your work (the theory i used is controversial)
What was your epistomological approach (yikes!)
If you had a theory in mind which you wanted to test out, why did you use grounded theory (fortunately I had a really good answer!)
Have you supported or refuted the theory with your evidence?
what was your most pertinent finding
What were your experiences as a female researcher working with some dangerous people?
Did you think they were honest with you?
Was there anything you could have done to triangulate your data?
Some of these are very thesis specific of course, but I answered them ok. What was interesting was questions such as triangulation and validation of data were not posed because they thought i should have done more (as they explained afterwards) but to make sure I understood what I had done correctly and why in terms of coding of data and so on.
The questionsabout whether I supported or refuted the theory were to test how much i thought my findings (which apparently were very intersting and have impact) had either negated, or developed a long standing and hotly contested crime theory. They wanted me to state this more clearly in my colclusion - i had pussy-footed around this I think as I was not confident enough to say that I had siginificantly altered the content of sucha theory, but that is what they have said they want me to do. Who am I to argue!
They were very constructive, and i am glad I had those examiners!
Yes, be proud! (up)
You've worked really, really hard to get to this point, by far the bulk of the work is behind you and so you just need to keep jogging on for that bit longer and you'll soon reach that finish line! Don't beat yourself up but give yourself a well deserved pat on the back!
Congratulations. And that sounds like a very good pass, only swinging towards major corrections to allow you the time to do things, given that you're working full-time. So be very proud of yourself. It will take time to sink in though. But do get on with the corrections once you get the report from the examiners. Once they're done and signed off you will be a Dr 8-)
======= Date Modified 28 Jan 2011 12:00:13 =======
Thanks eveyone for your kind words. One thing that has been amazing to me is how tired I feel after the viva! No-one tells you how you will feel afterwards - I don't feel elated, just concerned that i am not going to be able to make adequate corrections to pass. I feel I gave a good account of myself in my viva, but the overwhelming feeling is tiredness, and a feeling of anti climax. i think it is good advice to any student to not view the viva as the end of the line - I think for most students there will be corrections of some form to do, and building the viva up to be 'the final day' can do more harm than good in terms of raising pressure and expectations.
On a positive note, i had a lovely email back from my external saying how well they thought I did in reposnding to constructive feedback which is nice. Also, it is friday! I was in work again 8am Thursday the day after the viva and have been writing an audit report which in istelf has been exhausting!
How did you all feel afterwards? Do you think that there could be more done to prepare you for these feelings after the viva? it is a bit strange to expect elation when you feel flat, especially when your family and friends are all congratulating you and you find yourself arguing that you have not even passed yet!
======= Date Modified 28 Jan 2011 11:31:02 =======
I felt totally numb after my viva. Plus I didn't sleep the night before or the night after, so was a zombie! But basically numb. I had very minor corrections to do (just a small number of typos, and improving captions), which took just a few hours, but I still felt very numb on the day. Only after the corrections were done and officially approved did I feel official. I agree with you that it's wrong to make the viva up to be the be-all-and-end-all. It isn't the end of the process in most cases.
I also had the added emotional baggage of having left a full-time PhD 14 years previously due to a life-changing illness developing. I never thought I'd get to the end of my second go, part-time, in a totally opposite subject/discipline. So it was very unreal, and I didn't believe it.
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