Hi, everyone. I'm glad to find this forum. After 12 years (includes time off and mostly part-time study) and 2 vivas, my result last week was the offer of an MPhil instead of PhD. To say that I'm gutted is an understatement. I already have a master's and didn't work over a decade for another. After the first viva, I got major revisions (and lots of positive encouragement to go for it!) and second viva. I followed all of the revisions but they came up with new things that were apparently enough to refuse the PhD. It feels like a bait n' switch.
Without typing the the whole long sordid story (I will at some point since it could be helpful to future students), I'm looking for suggestions and resources on next steps.
1. Appeal. Seems like this is a long process stacked against the student. Seems like best outcome is a new viva with new examiners. Not sure if I'm up for a 3rd viva... Also seems like there is appeal through the university but also maybe through OIA? http://www.oiahe.org.uk/
2. A few people have suggested taking it to another university. Not sure if this is an option and how it would work, exactly. Also, would it mean not accepting the MPhil (is that even an option?)? Seems like it would not be right to get 2 different degrees from 2 different universities for essentially the same project.
3. Starting over completely with a new project at another university-- another long and expensive option.
4. Do nothing. Accept the MPhil and move on with life. OR reject the MPhil and move on with life. Part of me wants to erase the whole experience from my life.
5. Are there other options I should look into?
I am hoping to gather my thoughts and speak soon with my second (more attentive) supervisor to get his feedback.
I appreciate any suggestions or anecdotes. Thanks!
Aw that's horrible, and your're supervision team should ultimately be taking some of the responsibility for this surely?
Could you consider registering for a PhD by publication? then publishing all the research from your thesis. I'm not sure how these work and if you need another viva, but may be a good way of doing it. Plus you get the feedback from reviewers before submitting it to the university.
I can so empathise - I'm in the process of re-writing following a failed Viva and I'm really worried about the same thing happening to me. My external seemed really negative, and I'm not sure anything I revise will be enough.
I'd take the MPhil - it's better than nothing.
I've also been thinking about going to another University, but I suspect the regulations say you can't submit it for a PhD when it got an MPhil somewhere else. Unless you just don't mention it??? But then, you'd always have the worry that it might be taken off you at some point.
I was going to go for PhD via publication - but possibly in a slightly different area as I don't think I could get enough publications out of my PhD, such as it is.
It could be worse, keep trying :-)
Thanks for the suggestions. Eyebright, best of luck to you, too. All you can do is your best and hope for the best. Try to get lots of feedback along the way-- I never did-- the most feedback I got on my work was from my examiners after the first viva.
Not surprisingly, I have not heard a word from my supervisors. I have truly been alone in this process the whole way. Sort of boggles the mind.
Like I said, at some point I'll write up the story and note where I wish I'd handled things differently and hopefully it will be helpful to others.
I wanted to post a few links that may be helpful to others, too:
This one seems good, see links at bottom, too.
I wish I'd read this one well before the viva. I'm starting to wonder if I was naive about the process. Is it normal and expected that examiners can pull questions out of anywhere, asking nothing about the bulk of the work itself, and use that as the main criteria? What is your understanding of what is within the range of normal?
I'm still asking around and getting my ideas together. Thanks for reading.
I think what is normal is a bit field specific but certainly in my social science viva I was asked questions about the wider field and how my work related to it. Personally, if I was you, I would accept the MPhil and move on with life as you put it. If you appeal, you have to exhaust the university's appeal process before the OIAHE will look at your case by the way. Has your university got a student advice centre? It might be worth seeing if you could get some advice there. But unless there's something really dubious in the second viva report, I'm not sure from what you say what you would appeal on.
My first viva was postponed as the examiners judged that my thesis was not of doctoral standard. Three years later I had gone through both the Uni's complaints proceedure and the OIA (who up held the majority of my complaints). I started with a new supervisor and, eight months later had a very sucessful viva, and wonderful graduation day seven months after that. Taking the uni through the complaints' proceedure taught me more about the use of evidence to prove a point than the first attempt at a PhD did, it also put me in very good position for re-writing. It took me four years part time to achieve a PhD (three and a bit years pre first viva, eight months pre second viva), it took me three years to go through the complaints' procedure. You can 'win' but it will be a long experience and in the end you will have to do the additional work. That said I am so glad I did complain, I know things have changed, and I have made it much more difficult for my experience to be repeated at the uni i was at. It might not have benefitted me directly but it has benefitted many more students. And I have my PhD. I took the attitude of saying, in five years time what am I going to regret more, not complaining and finding out the uni had carried on ignoring regulations, or spending the time complaining? PM me if you would like to 'talk' it over.
My supervision was also very poor and many mistakes were missed due to their lack of effort. I was shocked at the the amount of PhD students that are failing and the reason seems to be 'poor supervision'. Ask yourself, if you were a supervisor and one of your students was having a problem with their work, would you let them sit an exam knowing that they would fail? I certainly wouldn't.
I work in a software development company and if anything like that happened to an employee; the team lead, manager or director would get severely reprimanded for such unprofessionalism and what amounts to unethical behaviour. But whoever said the universities acted professionally..:o)
I'd recommend taking the MPhil mainly because its a higher master degree involving a high degree of technical ability far beyond a MSc/MA. The MPhil is valued by many more universities and companies these days. The idea that it is some sort of consolation prize is an old-school-tie, arrogant preception of the serious and very hard work you've done. The MPhil is a sometimes classified as a 'mini-PhD'. You could see it as a the most solid foundation for your valuable PhD work in the future.
You can definitely apply for a PhD at a later time if you have the money and time.
Don't let 'them' win.
Cornpicker and other friends
I think I am in same situation as you. I had two vv (major and minor corrections) but after submitting minor corrections examiners offered Mphil. I am currently thinking of going for appeal. If you currently active on this group I would really appreciate to get some suggestions from you or get in touch with u. Really waiting waiting for your reply.
======= Date Modified 29 Jun 2011 13:08:18 =======
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