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Thursday, 15 August 2019 at 9:33am
Thursday, 15 August 2019 at 2:44pm
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Thread: Terrified of viva and supervisor making things worse

16-Aug-19, 08:47
edited about 45 seconds later
by mkwit7
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posted about 6 months ago
Thank you both for your kind messages. I should clarify that I haven't submitted my thesis yet, but in just over a months time I'm moving abroad to start a post doc and so I was hoping to get it submitted before I leave. I'm also trying to organise my wedding, so it's a stressful time!

I also wanted to clarify that I know the equations and understand them, and have made separate notes on them for my peace of mind. I may bring them into the viva with me, I didn't realise I could do that so thank you for that suggestion. I'm just not comfortable deriving them, and don't see how this is relevant to my work when I understand what the equations mean and can apply them to my work. My question was really if that is the sort of thing an examiner might ask you because frankly I don't trust my supervisor.

I will agree with you both that my supervisor is terrible, and has been for the entirety of my PhD. He enjoys gossiping about other members of staff more than discussing my work. We never have been a good "fit" for each other - I need stability and reassurance (which is my own problem for being so anxious) and he will not provide that. I won't deny that it's made me an independent researcher having such little support, and especially being the only one in my university working in this area, but at a great cost to my mental health.

Thanks again for your responses!

Thread: Terrified of viva and supervisor making things worse

15-Aug-19, 09:45
edited about 17 seconds later
by mkwit7
Avatar for mkwit7
posted about 6 months ago
Hi all,

Long time lurker but first time poster. You all kept me going through the second year blues and I'm hoping you might be able to help me in these final stages.

I am absolutely terrified whenever I think of the viva, and my supervisor is making things 10x worse. My supervisor likes to tell me that the external examiner is going to be "very tough" and that "you can't hide from him forever" whatever that means? I absolutely understand this is a process I need to go through, but vague statements like this are of no help whatsoever. He has been like this throughout my whole PhD and I can't wait to be finished.

I am asking any students who have been through their viva to please provide me with some positive viva stories as support! For example, maths isn't my strong point but a lot of my work is based on a few simple equations (Fick's Law, Henderson-Hasselbalch equation). I have learned these and feel I understand them and how they relate to my work, but according to my supervisor this isn't enough, I need to be able to derive them from X Y and Z because this is what my examiners will ask ... my PhD is not in maths but pharmaceutics. I do not feel this is relevant when I should be being asked on the data in my thesis.

Please tell me I'm not going to be asked to derive mathematical equations in depth rather than actually being asked about my data and how I have made an unique contribution in the field! My supervisor makes me feel so stupid and that I could never possibly be worthy of a PhD.

Any positive viva stories are welcomed! Thanks for reading.
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