Viva - not enough data, resubmission with extra Chapter


Hi all

I had my viva a few days ago and even tho it went well in regards to the data I had in my thesis and I was able to defend well, in the end they said I didn’t have enough data for a PhD currently and recommended resubmission with an extra review chapter (as I have started a postdoc and extra experiments would not be an option).

I’ve had time to digest this horrible horrible feeling because this results was never envisioned by myself or anyone who knew me, and have come to terms with the extra work etc and know I can smash through it eventually. I could blame the examiner for not being considerate as lockdown took 8 months of work away, or my supervisors for their lack of supervision and care. But ultimately I’m the one who bears the brunt so I’ve got over those feelings relatively well because it is what it is.

But the thing I can’t get over is the feeling of months down the line whenI’m finally awarded the PhD down the line, it will be an award of shame, reminding me that I failed and an ‘achievement’ I rather hide away than be proud of. I know when your are Dr, nobody will care how you passed, but right now even typing the word ‘Dr’ sends so much negativity through me and represents a title I don’t want to associate myself with..

Have anyone had a similar viva outcome experience/feeling and how did u get through it?


Do not beat yourself up. It is not a big thing and happens to a lot of people. You will still be a Dr. the research you have done is genuine and the best you could do given the circumstances. Adding an extra chapter does not take anything from your capabilities as a researcher.

Hope you add the chapter and receive your degree soon :)


Hallo ..actually I totally feel you..I have done my viva in March 2019, after a couple of rehearsals with my two supervisors, and I was shocked when they told me the data is not enough!!!! and I need to go back and do it..but this is all fine ..what is killing me now is second supervisor retired, and my initial supervisor I am his first student, and it seems whatever i am submitting is not good enough. I have shown my writing to three different professors who supervised a lot of students and they all said my writing is really good and up to the PhD standard. when i ever i ask my supervisor for guidance or clarification, he answered saying i am here to advise not to guide ..long story short, i am in process of transferring my paper if someone can assist me on how is the best way to do that, do i search for university get initial approval and then transfer or how does this work. thank you


Hi, so sorry to hear this outcome. But, please don't worry - I had the same outcome and I feel exactly how you are feeling. I feel ashamed, embarrassed and especially when other people ask - guilty as hell. It's as if I did not have any achievements and even when I get my PhD, it will not be the same. I posted in this forum too, a few days ago. As I am awaiting replies, meanwhile I am telling myself - what can I do now other than keep working on these corrections? I have decided to intake positive things until the corrections are done and interact only with my closest friends and family who love me and understand what's going on. I have decided to avoid interactions with people who can bring up unnecessary questions. I wish I could offer you more hope but right now, all I can offer is companionship - you are not alone. We will get through this. Just hold on a little more. You deserve a PhD - that's why we are at this point. My love and best wishes to you.


You seem a bit of a victim of the covid impact on postdocs. The problem your examiners have is a PhD viva is, very traditionally, an examination of whether you have done an independent piece of research of sufficient value to merit a PhD - end of. It is not an exam where this judgement could be passed with a clause like 'considering the circumstances'.

A viva can't excuse students for shoddy treatment by Universities - whether this is poor mental health support, lack of supervision - or even misdirection, lack of equipment, etc. They purely look at the scientific merit of what's presented by the candidate. This is how they should work; but I've seen a lot of shoddy treatment from Universities on the back of Covid.

Whilst they bent over backwards for Undergraduates, at the 'expense' of staff time (that cost them nothing), when it came to PhD students who actually cost them stipend money or 'completion timer' targets, they've been in general much less forgiving. What should probably have happened here is the University paid for you to do those 8 months you lost due to Covid; what they instead did is stuff you into a viva hoping for a positive outcome on the cheap.

This is not your fault, and I can say as a positive, that thinking the fact you got major corrections is an academic stigma is a myth. I have appointed many postdocs, I don't ask or care if they got corrections, what I care about is their research and what they would bring to the group. The phenomenon I think stems from PhD students being so used to work being graded, they think of a 'no corrections' as a first. It's not the same thing, and at the point you're applying for Postdocs what you want is a good thesis after corrections. The actual worst case scenario is a thesis that passes (perhaps without correction!) but is obviously flawed, leaving you with a PhD but very limited employment prospects in any decent group.