I've been a bit of a lurker on this forum since my viva in 2017, which resulted in a resubmission in 18 months. I searched threads that dealt with resubmission endless times, and read and re-read messages of encouragement from others here to those brave enough to post their experiences.
So I'm dedicating this post to all of you, and thanking everyone for the discussions I could read, and the general feeling that I was not the only one. I ended up resubmitting earlier this year, and my degree was awarded a month ago. No second viva, non further corrections, even though the examiners had the discretion to opt for one more month of corrections. And now I've been fixing the inevitable typos etc and wondering if this really is real.
I want to stay a bit anonymous, so I won't give too many details. I'm still embarrassed about failing to do what all my friends managed, and subsequently watching them go onto jobs in and out of academia while I was 'stuck' with my resubmission. I didn't tell all my friends, just the close ones, and as consequence I started avoiding people in general and I was in a really dark place for a long time.
But a few things made it possible for me to get through the process, so here's my main advice for the other lurkers out there:
a) talk to friends. Seriously, find one or two who you can tell everything to. And they need to be people who have PhDs so they know what the struggle is, and who can push and pull you towards completion. I never found the advice of 'outsiders' useful in this whole mess, because if they didn't know the UK system, or what a PhD is, then they struggled to say the things I needed to hear and it got frustrating when I had to explain the magnitude and significance of my failure.
(to be continued...)
b) contact university counselling. Do not wait a year for this like I did. And remember that at least at my uni you can stop the clock by going on interruption due to mental health issues. This was a life saver.
c) If like me you can't channel your feeling of failure into an actionable "I'll show them all" -rage, that's ok. What I did was I started slow. My first goal was to go to my former desk, and just sit there a full day, and maybe do some work. Seriously, the whole thing was too traumatic to be productive from the beginning. So I just went to sit there for a day, did a bit of reading, made "plans" but honestly, I wasn't that productive for many months. But it'll pick up, trust me.
d) Make a plan in terms of content and timeline with your supervisor. The days when you struggle with the work are much worse than first time around, or so it was for me at least. But meeting with the sup always made things somewhat better, even though mine was a lot of times a bit useless.
e) Talk to friends. Seriously.
f) Try to rephrase it in your mind as going for round 2. I changed the file name to Diss v.2.0 to mentally focus on this being a different thing, a second version of what was my research.
g) I broke down crying many times when I opened the examiners' reports, so the only way I could finally get started, was with a few different colours of highlighters, and just thinking it was someone else's thesis and that I needed to find their suggestions for missing literature references, unclear arguments, typos, and other categories. And then I compiled them into lists, so that I didn't have to have those reports with me when I did the day to day work. Take the comments seriously, but remove them from the context of examination. Now they just became to do -lists.
h) It'll be terrible. You just have to push through. Just a little bit longer, and then it's over. To be able to get to the point of submitting the first time is a huge achievement, so you know you can do it again no matter how daunting it feels. And it does feel daunting.
My examiners went 2 months past their deadline, so I lived in horrible anticipation much longer than I thought. But I got there in the end, and I've now even told a few friends who didn't know about the struggle that I made it. Some were a bit confused (I could see the wheels turning in their heads "didn't you finish years ago?") but then happy for me. The end result is what matters, or so I keep telling myself :D
I have started to change my title everywhere I see it. Don't let people tell you it's weird, or snobby, or will confuse people who think you're a medical doctor. They don't know how difficult it was, so screw them. Just be proud!
Congratulations on finally passing. Your story made me feel that getting resubmission at the viva is not the end of the road. Your advice is very helpful and wish you all the best!
Truly thank you for sharing this experience. I am in the same shoes now, resubmission within 12 months without reviva. It is truly scary experience, resubmitted my thesis and still waiting for the examiners to come back with the result. It is so mentally and physically torturing to work on the corrections and waiting for the result (with no assurance your corrections will end up being awarded with the degree). I am so depressed abd yet the examiners are just taking their sweet time to drag students life endlessly... How did you cope during waiting period? But I must praise you for your hard work in this process, Dr. You earned this title!
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