Post viva- no summit or finishing line in sight :(


Hey ,

Well I'm pleased to say, following from a good PhD viva outcome (well good in the sense of very positive comments from examiners, no secondary viva and no mention of an MPhil), as well as a good postgrad forum 'kick up the bum' intervention (!), I'm fully immersing myself in my thesis corrections and working on cutting everything down. I've got an absolute word limit of 99,999 words and I need to some how chop out approximately 40,000-50,000 words.

In line with my examiners requests, over the last few weeks, I've worked through my chapter 1 and chapter 2, cutting out or rewording extra detail whilst adding few more studies and theoretical frameworks, adding small bits of evaluation and including small changes which help navigate the reader through my 10 chapters. etc etc.

Today however, is a different story. I just can't see the summit or finishing line! I know there is an end point somewhere, but I feel as if I'm sinking in these thesis corrections!

Any tips? I'm trying to break these corrections down and focus on a few at a time. But considering I'm only working on chapter 1 and 2, I'm feeling daunted at the prospect of working through the remaining 8 chapters! :( However, most of my corrections involve cutting out extra detail in my literature review chapters, including a few more studies and theories and splitting my discussion chapter into two seperate discussion chapters. No real changes to my methods and result chapters....

Dad is letting me stay here rent free for a few months so I can fully focus on my PhD in order to finish asap, so I guess that's something to be thankful for.


Anyway, apologies for moaning- especially to those of you preparing for submission and preparing for a viva!


======= Date Modified 17 Aug 2011 20:28:22 =======
Tackling corrections is always daunting, expecially because we are at the end of the summer and we feel that we didn't have a summer really...

I think that you are doing all the right things. You are editing a very long document, and virtually cutting out material that is the length of an MLitt by research, so it will take time.

Working in small chunks is the best approach. I would also suggest not to lose sight of the thesis as a whole as you work along. Do stop every once in a while and look at how the chapters hang together, as some more adjustments may be needed.

If your list of corrections is clear it's indeed matter of tackling one point at the time, if some comments appear generic it may worth to ask for clarification. Are your supervisors or indeed anyone else (e.g. internal examiner) available to check your progress? 


Hi Pineapple.

I have just finished my corrections, which sound quite similar to yours in scope and nature. I re-submitted last week, and am now anxiously wondering how long it will take to find out if they are satisfcatory or not!
I did have trouble getting them done, my motivation was low as I was so exhausted from the build up to the viva, so the first thing I did was have a few weeks off! In order to get myself focused I found it helpful to set up a Microsoft excel spreadsheet where I kept a log of all the examiners' comments, suggestions and required corrections. I ordered these in the order of the thesis, and assigned a priority based on whether they were required or just suggested, how long they would take and how fundamental they were (in terms of some changes affected the whole thesis, some just one section). I then started by choosing one big one and one little one to work on at a time. I found for example that just doing one or two small changes in a day or a week was good for saying that 2 or 3 chapters were done (where there had not been much needed doing). As a matter of fact, I even used the spreadsheet to share with my supervisor what I had done to address the changes by adding comments to each row, and sending this off with my revised chapter. The contents of this then came together to form the basis of a letter to the examiners to highlight my changes at resubmission.

It is hard to stay motivated, if you are anything like me you will be sick of looking at parts of it! Perhaps start by choosing some changes that feel as though they make a big impact? Anything to get them done - good luck!
I am not sure if mine was a successful strategy as I haven't had the results back yet, but at least I got through them fairly quickly. Hope this helps


Hi Pineapple, well done for getting started on those corrections. Remember back to when you started writing your thesis and how much of a daunting task it seemed, yet you did it! You can do the same with these corrections. You have a family behind you letting you focus on the task rather than having to worry about finding accommodation, jobs etc so use this time to help you through.

I can sympathise with having to reduce your thesis. Mine was 48,000 words and I was only allowed 40,000 (sciences) to submit, so I had to cut out 20% prior to submission. Editing seemed to be soul destroying after writing the damn thing, but in hindsight it made a better read. I know I posted on the forum to see if this was a feasible goal and I got some help and encouragement back then. I basically had to make the sentences less verbose and much more focused. By reducing repetition across the chapters and verbose (flabby!) sentences I got my final word count down to 39,300. You can also do this with your word count. Hopefully, the examiners will have given you examples of what to cut out too.

Just take each task and make it into smaller manageable chunks. You have the determination to get through this stage. As you get small parts ticked off the list you will be motivated to do more. Keep going and have a virtual cake to help  (mince)


Regarding the word count reduction, I would suggest maybe getting a couple of people to help you with this. Hard to see the wood for the trees sometimes when you've been looking at something for a long time. When you've finished the corrections on a chapter, perhaps show it to someone else and see if they can suggest ways to prune it. Perhaps someone who knows nothing about your topic and thus won't get bogged down in the detail but will focus on sentence structure etc.

I don't know if this kind of assistance would be permitted by university regulations, but if it is then it might help you a bit.

Also, I don't know what your topic is but if you have data tables, check the formatting. If you have a number range presented as 'X - Y' it will count that as 2 words whereas 'X-Y' is one. Seems a shame to waste your word count on hyphens!


Hi Pineapple, First of all YOU ARE A HERO!! You have accomplished quite a lot despite going through so much of stress. Hats off to you for that!! I don't really have anything else to add to the following excellent suggestions of fellow forumites. You have already completed two chapters which is great and you are absolutely doing what you will have to. So, just keep going and you will eventually get there. Perhaps it would be better to think how many chapters you have already corrected rather than thinking about the chapters you still have to correct.

I am really glad to hear that you have a lovely supporting family!!

Good luck!!! (up)


Hi Pineapple,

congratulations for coming this far, you have done well and you are nearly there.

Perhaps I can help you, as I am quite good at writing succinctly.

Firstly,  I think it is important to try and take some distance from what you have written. Be prepared to throw out large chunks of text. I know this is hard, as a lot of effort has gone into writing things up and it is difficult to scrap things, I know it probably breaks your heart.

Secondly I think it is useful to write a summary of a chapter, but to do this by heart! Really just write the things that you can remember, but do not look at the original text. Once you are happy that the chapter covers the real essentials, do the same for the other chapters.

Thirdly, once you have the summary of all chapters make sure that the whole forms a coherent piece of writing. You now have the crucial part of your thesis ready.

Fourthly, like "painting by numbers" add the essential colours to each of the chapters. Paste this from your "old thesis". Avoid the full details. Once you have done this for all chapters, you are probably ready. If not, do this again and add in the missing bits.

Sounds like a lot of work, yet in reality I think it is a lot quicker than you think and it is a much easier and better than sticking to the old format and fine tuning the minimal details only.

Good luck



that's really good interesting advice Rick - thanks, you've set me thinking...:-)(up)


Thanks for the advice everyone! I LOVE this forum :)

I'll keep chipping away at this thesis- hopefully I'll get there someday.....



Just catching up with this thread now (been away at Edinburgh Book Festival all day - yay!). You're aiming to complete by Christmas. So that gives you lots of time. So don't worry if you don't make rapid progress. It's a marathon, not a sprint. So, yes, just keep chipping away at your changes. And if it gets too much at times have a break for a few days. You can easily afford it time-wise, and it would also help you have the distance needed to edit your thesis ruthlessly.

Good luck!


Hi Pineapple!
Just wondering how you are getting on?


Hi K :-)

Best of luck with your resubmission! I WISH I was in your position right now. I'll be following your posts with interest......

oh wow- thanks for thinking of me! I really appreciate it!

Well I think I'm getting somewhere with this chapter 2 (and chapter 3) - at least in terms of what to cut out, what to reduce and what needs some work. I've also introduced a new three part structure to my thesis so Part A consists of(Intro, literature review, aims), Part B (results) and Part C (Discussions, recommendations, implications and conclusions) as well as a part a, part b, part c model/flow diagram in my chapter 1 which seem to present my thesis into a nice order and breaks down this 100,000 word monster into a neat structure.

I still have a very long way to go though :( I've got the list of things that need changing from my examiners and it's a question of just working through them.

But, I had to really fight back the tears on Friday :( These corrections and thesis re-writes are requiring every last drop of motivation and dedication to pull through. My university seem to have washed their hands of me so I feel very alone with my thesis at the moment :( Oh well. Need to keep in mind that they haven't downgraded me (well unless I screw this resubmission up!).

Other than my voluntary work on Mondays, I've got nothing else to focus on, so its full steam ahead for the next few weeks....


Keep going Pineapple, it sounds as though you have a good structure there that makes sense and hangs together well. i will let you know if I hear anything about my corrections.

It is hard doing them as all motivation seemed to be gone for me at least, but once I started to get through them and see the light at the end of the tunnel my enthusiasm picked up again to just get the darn things finished. Only time will tell now!


======= Date Modified 23 Aug 2011 15:42:58 =======
Thanks K....Best of luck with your post viva corrections :)

I'll keep persevering. I think more than anything this is just a battle of wills and keeping it together! I'm really struggling in remaining motivated and serious feelings of inadequacy etc are starting to creep back into my consciousness which isn't helping matters.

Anyway- in order to see the 'wood through the trees',  I'm working on pulling out the main fundamental points out of each 2.1., 2.2., 2.3 etc etc and either cutting out or reducing extra detail. My chapter word counts are falling rather rapidly as I'm rewording, restructuring and deleting stuff which does not explicitly relate to my main argument within each mini section as well as the main chapter objective. I'm looking at separate individual sections within each chapter rather than looking at 8k-25k word chapters and thinking arrrrrghhhhh!!

I'm hoping that this is a productive way in sorting out these thesis corrections. I also need to keep in mind that my methods and results sections are more or less fine, I just need to reduce my literature review chapters and add some sections to my discussion chapters.

I may start integrating walks into this thesis rewrite phase just to give myself a physical break away from my thesis.

I long for the day when this nightmare ends. I can't see the light yet, but I hope I can reach it someday.


I understand your state of mind. Although I didn't have major corrections, the PhD has been a very difficult journey, and I wonder if a mild depression might also be the cause of our feelings. It is very easy to end up in a spiral of negative thoughts when we don't have the necessary support from the environment/ people we work with.

It is of course important the support of family, friend, etc. but having worked for so long with completely unsupportive supervisors certainly did not help my self-confidence. I got to the end - or so I hope! - as I submitted my corrections last week. Nonetheless, I cannot help but feel completely deflated. I am writing for a publication just now, but I have the same state of mind that I had when I completed the writing up and the corrections for the PhD.

I don't know what will happen next, as someone else said, only time will tell. I can only suggest you to find other activities outside the writing, as you plan to do, to break the circle of corrections= negative thinking (E.g. I found doing Pilates classes very beneficial, for the body and for the mind). Do make an effort to improve your social life, that's also very important. If you surround yourself with positive people, you start to think positive. Equally, take the distance from the negative ones.

In short, take good care of yourself, if you break yourself down, you would nullify all your efforts to date. You are very, very close to completion, and from what you say, you are doing all the right things. You can always come back to the forum  for routine injections of positive thinking. I wonder what I would have done without these!