Signup date: 19 Aug 2009 at 10:06am
Last login: 11 Jun 2011 at 10:08pm
Post count: 48
I think it is amazing that you are keeping going in your situation. It sounds like you have an awful lot on your plate and I suspect had it been me I would be hiding under my duvet, never to be seen again. Have you tried Gumtree for your city (www.gumtree.com) ? There's a Freebies section under the for sale bit. Maybe you could put up a wanted advert or see if anyone is giving away any of the things you need?
All the best of luck!!
I feel for you!!
My viva got cancelled because of all the problems with the snow and my external's flight was too delayed. Not much fun finding that out half an hour before my viva was due to begin, specially as it had taken me three hours to get to uni, a journey which normally takes about half an hour and I had left really early to make sure I would get there. As much as it is extremely frustrating, there is nothing you can do about it so try to make it into something positive. Have a week or two off from your thesis, then go back and use the extra time to read up on things you might find useful :-)
I just have to agree with what the others are saying. It sounds like you have a lot of positives in your thesis!!
Also remember that your thesis isn't supposed to be perfect. You want it to be, but the more you work on it, the more you can see flaws, things you wish you'd done differently or things you should have included but didn't think of at the time. It really got me down and by the time I submitted I thought my thesis was awful. I think you can be your own worst critic. However, this is part of the whole learning process. The examiners aren't expecting to see a thesis with no flaws, but in my case I had found mistakes which they didn't spot at all, while there were things I hadn't thought of that they spotted. It is all about being able to say why you did something the way you did at the time. The fact you might have thought of a better way later just shows you are improving your skills and knowledge.
Try to focus on the positive aspects, but also have an explanation for things you might not be so happy with. That way it shows you have looked at your own work critically. They usually ask what would you have done differently and this is your chance to show them what you have learned.
I think your sups sounds awful, but try to focus on the fact they mention that your thesis taps into an unknown area. To me that sounds like they are confirming that it is contributing to knowledge!
I would also highly recommend the counselling service, even if it is just to moan to someone without feeling guilty. I think I would have quit my PhD without it!
You have come this far, so don't give up now. You can do this!!
Change a table, sort some typos and add a couple of references I'd forgotten. Not too bad. I've got 3 months to do it, but reckon I'll get it done before Christmas.
My viva lasted about 2h 45m, then they asked me to leave the room while they had their discussion. 5mins later my internal came and got me and told me straight away I didn't need to worry. Then they said they would recommend to the senate that I passed on the condition I did the corrections to my thesis. I was so relieved I started crying :$
For the ladies out there wondering what to wear.. I just wore some smart beige trousers and a blouse with a jumper on top. Smarter than jeans, but not too dressy as I didn't want to feel overdressed. Funnily enough I can't remember a thing about what the examiners were wearing, except the external was quite hot and had I not been so nervous I might have been able to appreciated it a bit more :p :$
That's all I can think of for now. If there's anything else you want to know please just ask, as I found it reassuring to read other people's viva experiences beforehand.
Thanks guys :-)
It's starting to sink in a bit now, but don't think I'll feel completely finished until I've done the corrections and handed in my final bound copies.
As for Q&A... Here goes. I'm in biological sciences so different subjects probably have different questions but I'll let you know how my viva was. I had really nice examiners. I knew my internal, but had never met my external before so although my supervisor told me he was nice I wasn't sure what to expect.
It was mainly my external doing the talking and asking the questions while my internal just brought up a couple of things he was unsure about.
He started off by saying he enjoyed reading my thesis and it was good quality work so he didn't have any reason to fail me on the grounds of the thesis, but that there were some points he would like to go through. It was reassuring to hear that at the start because I was so nervous.
He then asked me what I'd done for my undergrad, why I had decided to do a PhD and how I'd ended up doing that project.
He then proceeded to say my lit review was well written and comprehensive and he found it useful as there was some biochemistry stuff he didn't know about.
Then he said he'd just go through the results chapters of my thesis one by one and asked me to give a brief summary of the main purpose and findings of each one before they went through them.
He asked quite a lot of hypothetical questions like how would you conduct an experiment to investigate xyz. Where would you find X information. He also asked how could I do the experiments I'd done differently and would that be any better and would I do it different if I was to start over again now. Another thing he asked quite a lot was how would you explain to an undergrad that you did this experiment. That was probably to make sure I knew why and how I'd done stuff and that it was me that had done it.
They also asked about a couple of things I hadn't thought about, which I just said no, I hadn't thought about that, but it was good points so it would be worth investigating further. I still didn't fail even if I hadn't thought of everything and had forgotten some stuff.
I got the impression they wanted to find out that I knew what I'd done, the limitations of it and how it could be improved. They didn't ask any questions at all about my discussions which I was a bit surprised about, nor did they ask what the significance of my work was, so hopefully that was apparent from my thesis.
A few people told me beforehand that you can't prepare for your viva, but I spent a lot of time making sure I knew all the stuff in my lit review as I was sure they would find out I hadn't read enough (I did most of the reading as I was writing the Intro). They didn't really ask me any background questions apart from stuff related directly to my project so that was a complete waste of time although it did make me feel more prepared and as a consequence slightly less nervous.
I would probably say that my preparations didn't help me whatsoever. The questions they asked I could answer because I knew what I'd done and how I would do it different if I was to repeat it, which I think you maybe realise as you're going through your PhD anyway.
It was definitely not as bad as I had anticipated, but maybe I was just lucky and had really nice examiners. I had expected a complete interrogation where they told me everything I had done was rubbish and I would have to argue against that and defend my work. Instead it was more a question and answer session to make sure I understood it, had done it myself and to clear up anything that they weren't sure about. All through the viva they pointed out the good points as well as the bad, which kept my spirits up because it made me feel like I wasn't completely useless.
I have to move some of my results discussion into my general discussion, change
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I have been a lurker here for the past few years, but thought I would share the good news as this place has helped me so much! Just reading what other people are going through and realising that I wasn't alone. I have been so close to giving up, but my friends and you lot have kept me going.
I was sure the examiners were going to find me out and send me home without a PhD and I still can't believe I've done it. All the way through I've felt like an impostor who shouldn't really be there and that everybody else were so much better.
This is just really weird. Think it might take a few days to sink in. Got minor corrections, so I am well chuffed. Was dreading having to do more experiments.
Thanks everyone for the support you unknowingly have been giving me :-)
I think it's already been said, but I'd just like to say it too. Don't do it if your heart's not in it. A PhD is hard enough at the best of times with a project you love, so if you're already having doubts it's not going to get any easier. Fair enough, you might start and find out it's fun and interesting, but I think you deserve to give yourself the chance to do something you'd really like to learn more about. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It's you who'll have to do all the hard work, so make the decision for yourself. Even if it means waiting a year to get the project you want it's definitely better than spending 3-4 years doing something that you don't enjoy.
Hey, I would just like to add that I'm another person who was seriously considering quitting after personal circumstances put me in a position where I couldn't see myself getting through my PhD on top of everything else. By talking to my supervisor and letting him know I was having difficulties, he was able to understand and give me time to sort myself out. I got uni counselling which helped and I'm looking at spending an additional year as I pretty much lost a year and a half and I'm far behind. I'm still struggling and feel like a fraud, but obviously others have faith in me since they have encouraged me to stay and I'm going to do my best to see it through.
I was allowed to do my upgrades later than I should have, but at the time I was worried sick I would get kicked out because I knew I wasn't able to finish everything on time. My first year viva was a disaster, but my supervisor explained the circumstances to the examiners and I was allowed to redo it in 6 months time and the 2nd time round they were impressed.
What I'm trying to say is what others have already mentioned, take the time you need to get some help and get yourself back on track. Your health is most important and the deadlines are a lot more flexible than they may appear so try not to panic too much. It will all work out just fine!
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