Signup date: 26 Sep 2010 at 4:51pm
Last login: 26 Sep 2010 at 7:01pm
Post count: 14
Yup I dedicate a whole chapter to develop my theoretical framework. I'm not sure what your discipline is, but mine is humanities/social science, and a theoretical framework is used to explain the original way in which I look at the phenomenon in question. Using this framework I attempt to find a system out of the many actions people perform. If this framework provides us a way to systematically understand what is happening, then it shows that the framework is a useful and good one in the sense that it allows us to see the tacit social dynamics which give rise to the phenomenon. A framework, in other words, is a tool for us to look at things in a new way, and provided that it is a good way of looking at things, this framework can be an original contribution to the field of knowledge, which is what is needed in a PhD thesis.
Mine's not too strange, but I've got a friend who looked at the language of toilet graffiti in her MSc (I still remember she said how she was horrified when she saw that the cleaners had cleaned the toilet she researched), and went on to do the aesthetics of language in her PhD. A bit of a contrast I'd say.
======= Date Modified 26 Sep 2010 22:35:06 =======
Similar to what you mention, I believe the system of viva is inheritedly flawed. Like what you say, however, it is also a necessary evil. It is probably not a good way of assessments, but it might be the best. In this case, we might want to make the best out of this system, which is to choose examiners very carefully.
When I was discussing with my supervisor who to choose for my second viva, I suggested that it would be better to avoid people who state on their website that they are interested in another subfield this time round. In reply, he argued that scholars in general have an ability to go beyond their "comfort zone" and access work that is not of their primary interests. While I agree with my supervisor that many scholars are open-minded enough, there are still a few who are used to reading academic work in a certain way to an extent that they will read all academic work in that way. Also, if this argument of going beyond comfort zone stands true, then one can choose a scholar from a totally different field to access one's thesis. The fact that most (if not all) strive to choose scholars from a similar (if not the same) field (or even subfield) tells a lot about how people (including scholars themselves) believe that different scholars understand the world of knowledge in many different ways, and that it is better to have one's thesis read by scholars who are of the same field and subfield.
My partner actually said something like that when we first met. He said he wish he was as lucky as me and my PhD mates, who could sit there free most of the time and wrote whenever we like. Only later (when see witnessed me frantically doing my writing up) he learned that getting a PhD was as easy and leisurely as he once thought. Still he would insist that being able to research something one likes is heaven. Little does he know that asking oneself the same question for at least three years can potentially drive one mad.
======= Date Modified 26 Sep 2010 19:27:42 =======
(continuing the story)
While I was over the moon and was really thankful to my supervisor, who had always been there to give me guidance and help, I couldn't help but rethink the system of the viva. The system is supposed to be such that, if the thesis is of a PhD quality, it will be passed by qualified examiners. Given that both pairs of supervisors should be qualified, it is the most peculiar to have one pair saying the thesis is marginally revisable, while another pair thinking the same thesis is good enough to pass without re-writing. I guess my performance might have played a role in altering the outcome, but I believe it to be rather minor (I am happy to share what I did differently in the two vivas if people are interested). In any event, from this experience I see that it is of utmost importance to choose the right examiners - ones who will to read the thesis the way you intend the readers to read. However, how to choose the right examiners in this sense is still an enigma to me.
In the past few months I have just had a rather unique experience in academia - going through two vivas, each with different examiners (and chairs). This experience have made me rethink the system of viva.
I submitted my thesis in late January, and since then I had been waiting for my viva in mid-May. Before then I had a mock viva and my first supervisor, who was a big figure in the field and had been an experienced examiner, reassured me that, although it is difficult to second guess the decisions of the examiners, the worst scenario would be one-year correction.
So the day of the viva came. The moment I sat down, the examiners had shocked me to the basis. They asked questions that was rather irrelevant to the thesis, and several questions they asked was clearly addressed in the thesis (they looked shocked when I told them that they could find the answers on page X, making them look as if they hadn't read through my thesis). At one point the chair had to step in and said that they had dwelt in the same point for too long, and still the external insisted that she should continue with the same point. The external commented that the data I had was dodgy and the method was totally wrong. At the end of the viva, I was given a 24-month correction, re-submission and re-sitting the viva, which was way worse than I expected.
My supervisor, who had been really nice and sat in the viva as an observer (with the consensus of the examiners), was quite shocked by the outcome too, but he got the external to promise to send the report overnight and so that we could start working right the way. With the great sense of shame, I waited eagerly for the reports so that I could make an early restart and get it done asap.
Two weeks passed and nothing came back. So I went to the college office and asked what's going on. The staff member told me that they couldn't give me the reports because the first report from the external, which was supposed to be handed in before the viva, wasn't in! My supervisor was shocked when he heard it and he immediately filed an official complaint to the dean of college and demanded to nullify the viva. He also asked the external whether she could send in the report through email unofficially, and she told him that she could not since she had wrote the report on pencil and paper and she didn't make any photocopy before sending it off - so the official story was that the external first report was lost in the post. With such serious administrative error, the dean nullified the viva and I had to sit another one - with new examiners and a new chair.
With a few months of finding a new external and internal and getting the paper-work done, I had another viva last week. Contrastively, the examiners appeared to like my thesis and they commented that the data was very good. Only a little more than an hour was needed and I was notified that I had passed the viva with only one month editorial correction.
While I was over the moon and
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