Have a bit of a strange experience with a viva, and a subsequent fall out. I'm in the process of sorting out this problem so details may change. Wonder whether anyone has experienced anything similar, or has any advice?!?
Basically, have very recently had my viva after a fairly tumultuous time with the PhD (number of issues with lack of funding for experiments/conferences, supervisors not being available at times, general lack of resources, etc.). So worked very independently and submitted a thesis I was fairly pleased with - this was a few months ago. Recently had my viva, which went very well, I answered the questions well and the viva was generally a positive experience. Had around 3.5 hours of the main viva - although it was long, there were a few general discussions about wider theory issues - but felt quite positive about the result when I left the examiners to deliberate. They deliberated for around 10-15 mins tops and was called back in. The first thing they said was "well done", that I had done well, and that I had "definitely passed". However they were recommending that I be given the resubmission and six months option - my uni allows for outright passes without corrections (rare), pass with minor corrections which are submitted for internal examiner approval within 4 weeks of receiving the examiner's report (usual outcome), or that the thesis is resubmitted and re-examined either with or without another viva (major corrections).
What's really frustrating is that my examiners both said that my thesis was well written, that they enjoyed reading it, that it constituted a good piece of research, but that they thought that I might not be able to resolve their corrections within the 4 weeks. Neither examiner referred to any "major corrections" that they wanted in the thesis, but stated that they were concerned that without having the input from my supervisor (who my internal examiner said wouldn't be available over the next four weeks - which isn't the case, as my supervisor is available for meetings/help) that I wouldn't be able to submit the "minor corrections in that time. Whats strange is that I hadn't mentioned any supervisory problems at all. Also, my internal examiner who isn't a particular expert in my field wanted the external to approve the changes (basically my uni has shredded staff left, right and centre, and its getting harder to find appropriate examiners), and also that my external might not be available to review the changes after 4 weeks. My internal also said that she thought I might be pushed to finish the corrections within 4 weeks, even working full-time on them (I'm currently unemployed and job seeking - so I do have time to devote to corrections).
So after having a really positive viva and getting some very good comments about my work (with some criticisms - but answerable criticisms), my examiners were recommending that I resubmit under the major corrections option on their report. At this point I was re
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At this point I was really upset (not surprising perhaps), and was in complete shock and was in tears, and spent the rest of the day really devastated and confused by their recommendation (and I'm not someone who gets upset that easily - I'm male too!).
Also, I've just received the examiner's report and I think that I can address the comments and send them for review by the internal examiner within 4 weeks. So I'm annoyed that my examiners are recommending that I resubmit for re-examination (without viva) without any good reason. This resubmission also requires me to pay £250 to the university for the pleasure - which I completely object to doing.
I think that there are a few reasons for this result - one, my internal examiner doesn't feel confident in signing off my corrections under the minor corrections (which is standard procedure) and wants the external's input under the major corrections/reexamination option; two, I don't feel that I've been given a good enough reason for major corrections and that this option of major corrections just affords the examiners time to review the changes around their summer holidays (my examiners suggested that my outcome was due to time, not due to the quality of my research which they felt was good). I should also mention that my viva was more than 3 months after submission - which is against uni policy - and that I had already moved my viva date to accomodate my internal examiner (so I'm having to bend over backwards to have the pleasure of their viva, and the fact they can't review the comments because it's the summer time, and they couldn't do the viva any sooner).
I just feel completely devastated by this outcome after having such a positive viva, and that there's really little justification for the major corrections. Because both examiners said that I had definitely passed and said that the changes would basically be approved straight away I'm quite confused - I think that my corrections are more minor than major, and definitely do-able within the 4 weeks time limit under "minor amendments" (my internal had basically said that I could submit in that time, but it would be a push for the time/supervisor excuse).
I'm just starting to get advice from the university sources and from the postgrad tutor in my dept (who I know really well and I've worked with - who I'm meeting tomorrow in his home town, completely of his own accord - supervisor has been no help), but just wanted to share my story and see whether anyone has any advice. Have already started the corrections irrespective of the time - so might be interesting if I get the comments resolved within the 4 weeks (disproves the examiner's rather weak argument not to award minor corrections). Thanks!
Batt21, I just wanted to offer my support but I've no words of advice as I've still to submit. I can see why you're upset and it must be very frustrating and you're right to seek advice which I hope someone on here can give. It all takes away from the fact that you've passed but try to remember that you have passed (just make the corrections). If you believe you can do it in under 4 weeks, go show them but follow their report to a T, while continuing to get advice. I must admit I'd be annoyed about having to pay £250 unnecessarily and so do look into this.
Keep your chin up!
I don't think you have anything to worry about - it sounds like they have chosed that option because it will give you more time, so that you are not rushing around trying to get corrections approved once you've done them.
My uni has a minor deficiencies option - where you get 12 weeks to do the corrections. That was the outcome of my viva - and I was told that there was no way that they would take 12 weeks to do. My supervisor also pointed out that it was better to get the 12 week corrections than the 4 weeks one, as you can struggle to get everything done in time.
I really think you shouldn't be upset about it - just do the corrections, if they take you 3 weeks or 3 months - you'll have your PhD once they're done! :-)
...and reading this with fresh eyes and Claudia's response I think she's given excellent advice. I really shouldn't respond to posts when I'm half asleep! I would question if you are expected to pay the £250 if you do the corrections within 4 weeks though, as that would annoy me.
Thanks for the advice. I'm due to see the postgrad tutor for our department today so will see what he says. It does seem a really arbitrary period for minor corrections at my uni (4 weeks) - even my external said that his uni give 6 months even for minor-minor corrections.
Having slept on it I'm not as wound up as yesterday, but am hoping to find out if I can do the corrections within 4 weeks if I am still required to pay the fee. Will let you know how this pans out. Cheers!
I agree that it's probably not something to worry about, and not to cry over. They say you've passed, which is as much as they can do, given they have given you that bit longer to do corrections, even if you hopefully don't need them. On the downside paying £250 is not good, maybe you can get that waived, but I think it's more a result of your uni's restricted pass options.
My uni has a wider range of post-viva options. For passes there can be pass with no corrections, pass with minor corrections (basically editorial) to be done within a month, pass with minor revisions to be done within two months. After that there are various resubmission, MPhil and fail options. But the extra 2-months pass option means that fewer people have to resubmit, and allows examiners to issue a pass, and still have things tied up reasonably promptly.
Some updates regarding all this - spoke to the postgrad Tutor who was fairly supportive (think he's a bit stuck as he has to be impartial in all this) - I met him over where he lives a few miles away and had a bit of a chat over a coffee. He recommended to try and get the corrections done - not asap, but just get on with them. Second, he said that he would try and see whether the uni would waiver the fee if I got the corrections to the internal examiner within 4 weeks. The tutor is a great guy really - and was helpful even though I think it is limited what he can really do.
However, my supervisor has since emailed the faculty (but hasn't directly replied to my email to me - and she's offered no support to me), from which the chair of faculty board reviewed my examiner's report and have basically stood behind the rules and the report (which I'm trying to get a hold of) and said that I have to go with uni policy and pay the £250. This chair thinks that the corrections won't be done within 4 weeks - although I'm a bit sceptical about this as he is from a very different field from my own (although in the same medical/human sciences faculty). Part of the problem is that it is my word against someone else's, and that the examiners may have worded the report different to what was said during the viva to cover their own backs.
It doesn't surprise me that the faculty are standing behind the examiners - but this is only based upon the board chair reading the examiners comments without considering my perspective. Obviously its very tricky and I don't want to end up in a slanging/mud-slinging match with academics or university staff as they will just close their ranks. I'm not too wound up by this, my parents are advising to just pay the fee and get the corrections done whenever I can. - which is massively unfair given the support they have offered me over the course of the PhD (I think a previous poster had said that it sounds like I'm paying £250 to give the examiners a few more weeks to review my corrections, however major or minor they are).
I know this is an extreme story but its just disappointing how as a student you have little rights in the process. I'm going to investigate making a complaint/appeal (not sure whether its worth it) and speak to the uni's independent student advise service and see what they can advise. Thanks for all the advice and support - will keep you posted.
Meant to say that there's no sliding scale - say if you have a load of minor corrections which the examiner thinks will take 5 weeks to complete then its £250. Part of the problem with this is that the examiner is making a judgement on how you work as an individual. Now given that I'm currently unemployed since submitting my thesis, it seems rather strange that the examiners make this judgement (I was told that it wouldn't be feasible for me to complete the changes if I worked full time on them - so 40hrs a week x 4 weeks = 160 hours as a rough estimate?).
It must be so frustrating. Congratulations in passing your viva though. It is a great result, even though the examiners didn't handle this very well. I don't know if this might help, but I was given major corrections with resubmission in 12 months, but no viva is required. And I was first asked to pay a fee also, but then my supervisor made some calls and found out that unless there is another viva, Uni has no way of justifying a fee as the whole thing counts as complete, apart from the corrections which is part of the process (no longer a write-up student etc). I remember hearing something about viva being already paid for you once. And if there's no other viva, there's nothing to pay for. So now I don't have to pay it. Maybe you can also find something in the small print something like 1 viva = 1 fee.
Good luck with all (up)
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