I had my viva yesterday, I worked so hard and am proud of my work. But the external examiner was crushing me from the beginning of the viva. I answered all the questions. Even when i was told that you did not mention something, I would refer to the page and read the line that answers the question raised.
The external did not say one positive thing about my work, or that I had made any contribution to knowledge. I was shocked and so was my supervisor, and expect that I would pass and get 9 month correction, which I was okay with.I was not treated fairly, it lasted 2 hours and because of time they had to finish, although the external said that there were more questions.
In my study, I needed something which was proof read by 4 academic L1 speakers of English, the external told me, are you sure you had this proof read by academic L1 speakers of English.
I am not a native speaker of English and so is the external examiner, why would such a question be asked?
I am literally shattered, and have not been eating since yesterday, I was treated very unfairly. There was no chair at the Viva, could I raise an appeal and ask for other examiners? if it was decided that a second viva was required, can I ask for another external or two new examiners?
Has anyone been though this? what is the legal action that I can do?
That sounds absolutely awful. The external should not have acted like that. If he is saying you missed stuff when you have mentioned it, it clearly shows he had an agenda or didn't read it.
I would talk with the admin team or whoever is responsible for the viva and complain that there was no chair. A chair is there for a reason and it clearly has failed here.
I agree with "rewt" here. The point I note also is the external is saying material is not there when you are clearly saying it is and you have demonstrated it is.
You cannot appeal directly over outcome, but you can appeal over procedure followed during examination if you feel the procedure followed was not correct or predudiced the outcome against you.
From what you say, you may have a case for re-examination with fresh examiners. However, you need to sit down with your supervisors and chat to your equivalent of the post-graduate research office as how to proceed going forward.
The one caveat is I have helped someone whose first language is not English. I appreciate it is not easy and one counter-argument that might be made is the standard of your English made it unclear the material concerned was there or where you said it was. In the case I mention, it was genuinely difficult to understand some of the text of his thesis and it came across as a collection of words a times rather than coherent sentences (I kid you not here). It might be you have an excellent standard of English, but it is a point to be kept in mind.
It appears in his case, someone else completely reworte his thesis for him and I do wonder if his supervisor or similar stepped in to do this for him given the "speed" his thesis was corrected. Put it this way, the speed of correction (three days) was too quick for a thesis-writing service to have been used. Not mine to reason how. :-)
I am having nightmares reliving what happened and waking up crying.
Unfortunately, I was told that the internal can act as a chair.
Furthermore, the chair is there, if an external was know to be tough.
I am certain that the external did not read it.
Realistically if you were expecting major revisions (9 months) then the next worst outcome is not surprising. You'd already been told your thesis had major problems by your supervisors. There is nothing in your original post that actually evidences unfair treatment. You need to take a few days and see if the report actually fits with the criticisms your supervisors already had. Frankly if you're told to expect 9 months you shouldn't be shocked.
Thank you all for your thoughts and feedback.
Bewildered, my supervisor and I were expecting 6 months. But to to how this unfair viva went I though, I would get 9 months but this was to be a worst case scenario.
When the External is not convinced with everything you have said, no positive feed back, asking destructive negative questions in the form of why didn't you do this? and commenting on why you have decided to organize a certain theme in your literature review in this way.
Even you provide a strong solid reasonable reason taking in to account your your future readers, linking it to your analysis, discussion and conclusion. Then you are speechless when the response from the external is "Everyone knows this" and gives you advice how you should have organised this. This is not the point of a viva.
This is only one thing that has happened in this viva which lasted for 2 hours with the external saying they still had more questions!
I am so sorry for you and I can totally understand your feeling now as I had almost the same situation. My external examiner was exactly the same like yours. Worse still, the chairperson in my viva acted like an examiner and started question my research as well.
As mentioned by others, you may consult the postgrad admin or the head of postgrad program in your fac and try discuss with them by addressing the unfairness of your viva. I don't think you can get a amended result but there is no harm trying.
As for the re-submission, don't be too saddened by it as the corrections may not be as bad as you think. I was given a 9 month major correction and I was able to correct it in less than 1 month. Discuss with your supervisors thoroughly regarding the correction part and, more importantly, external examiner. Get a better external examiner!
Lastly, see this as a challenge for you. You have gone through hell so things will get better from now on. Be strong and good luck.
Thank you Ian,
The the viva was two hours with everyone in there. What hurts the most is that due you the shook when I was told to resubmit, I blocked out I couldn't hear anything anymore, just two people talking in front of me but I can not hear words. But the external continued to talk until my supervisor told her to stop, when she saw the state I reached.
The external had more questions but decided to spend time questioning my integrity as a young researcher and language then asking about my thesis. This is not the purpose of the viva.
Ru40342, it was an extremely unfair viva, my supervisor felt what I had felt during the painful two hours. I was discriminated and prejudiced due to my ethnicity and identity as a person. I tried to push these thoughts away but upon speaking to my supervisor, I was surprised that she sensed the same vibe as I did.
There is no reason for attacking a student during the examination, not giving them enough time and telling them everyone know this. Even if one was having a bad day, it is not acceptable to take it out on others. But it was not only me who felt this negative atmosphere.
In the study, do mention the context that my study in conducted, which includes the element of religion.
There is logical reason for someone to act the way they did, picking on things such as language and not pleased with anything you say or whatever you say without any positive comments for two whole hours.
The rules state that for a resubmission, there is re-viva with the same examiners. Psychologically, emotionally, and mentally, I can not see the external again. I am angry for the unfair way that I was treated and felt let down my the internal, who was also the chair, for not intervening.
I believe a viva should be video recorded, with the consent of all, to preserve the rights for everyone present.
Believe me i know exactly how you feel. I was in the exact situation. I felt like I wanna exit the room and give up the study all together.
Take all these negative energy and use them to push yourself forward. In my case, I work on my corrections straight away as I could not sleep well that night. Maybe take a few days off to calm yourself down. Focus on the corrections and not the feeling of unfairness.
I received the outcome report and the examiners' independent reports. I broke down in tears and was shattered to what was written.
In the independent report, the external examiner wrote that I would not be awarded the degree.
Even before I had the viva, I was given the outcome. This explains why the external was ignoring me, not convinced with what I said, questioned my integrity as a researcher and even criticized me.
There was a conflict between the 2 examiners independent reports, thus there was a critical need to have an independent chair to be present. I believe the internal/chair did not read the external's independent report, according to procedure, both reports are sent by the school to examiners before the viva.
I am shattered and hurt since there were waring signs and that an independent chair was needed.
Furthermore, most of what was in the joint report in the form of the amendments requested were either written in my thesis or not relevant to my study.
How can I be asked to make theses amendments when I was not asked about them during the viva but instead the external was focusing on language style and errors and not asking about my work (how I analysed my data, or my findings or contribution).
I have reached out student services and was informed that it would be a compliant than an appeal if I wanted to submit one.
I feel that I have been treated unfairly and the procedure was not carried out according to the regulations. I still cannot believe that I was prejudged that I would not get the degree even before the external examiner asked me any questions. Is this even legally possible and fair in the university rules?
The aim of the viva is to see if it is the candidate's own work, his/her decision and ask about issues that were not clear to the examiners not predetermining the outcome based on what is written without the viva
I'm not sure your last sentence is true.
It is rare but entirely possible to have a thesis so bad that a straight fail is the outcome. You would have to have failed to show that the work was of sufficient quantity to merit a PhD and to be entirely your work to such an extent that a viva couldn't have rescued you. You'd maybe alternatively be looking at plagiarism or something along those lines (I know of one instance of this). It would need to be something fatal though.
Under those circumstances though I would have expected the external examiner to have indicated to your supervisor that your thesis was not suitable for viva rather than put you through the formality of the viva.
Thank you pm133,
The aim of the viva under the regulations states this. It does not state that a student is judged on the bases of the written work but also to establish that the student has demonstrated a broad knowledge of understanding, comment on the strength and weakness also highlight concerns or issues that the examiners would like to call upon during the viva. I was questioned on language issues in which the external was wrong regarding their assumptions and telling me how I should organize my heading and tiles.
Furthermore, there was a conflict between the independent reports. All I know is that there was a need for an independent chair and the procedure of the viva was not conducted according to the regulations.
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