Revise and resubmit-passed viva exam second time round!

posted
10-Jul-18, 22:57
edited about 26 seconds later
Avatar for Drhannahb
posted about 4 months ago
Hi everyone

I’ve been following this board for some time now, often trawling through the posts looking for reassurance from fellow PhD students on their experiences of viva examinations and outcomes.
To put it as succinctly as possible, this is my PhD story:
Started in 2011 in a social science PhD fulltime. I was very motivated for the first two years and was in the process of data collection and had written about 30000 words at this point. I then got married to my partner of 6 years and moved to another city. Unfortunately, we ran into financial problems and I didn’t get along well with my husbands family. I got severe eczema all over my face (as a result of stress I assume) which completely shattered my confidence. I didn’t leave the house for days at a time and only went to university once a month when my flare ups on my face would calm down. I lost all motivation to study and my PhD was virtually on hold for nearly two years. Eventually, we moved back to my hometown and got a new house (near to my family) and my eczema cleared up. After two months, I was pregnant with my (now 2 year old) son. It was an unexpected but welcomed pregnancy. However, as a result of the pregnancy, I decided to rush my thesis submission to get it out of the way before my son was born so I could finally have my PhD done. This was the worst thing I could’ve done. I submitted my thesis without my supervisors having the time to approve or check it and my Viva was booked. The viva took place when I was 6 months pregnant (the examiners were unaware I was pregnant) and it lasted almost 4 hours. It was obvious that there were major flaws in the execution of the thesis and the outcome was a revise and resubmit with a second viva. I was devastated and numbed by the whole experience.
posted
10-Jul-18, 23:07
Avatar for Drhannahb
posted about 4 months ago
My supervisors told me to take an interruption of 12 months to my studies and focus on my pregnancy and my baby. That’s exactly what I did. I didn’t look at my work until a few months after my son was born and by then, I had even less motivation than before. How would I go back to a thesis that required so much work and overhauling? Could I manage it with a newborn baby? My second supervisor was really frustrated by my lack of motivation and during one supervision meeting, gave me some cold truths which made me cry-I had never failed anything in my life and the revise and resubmit verdict had totally alienated me. I had zero passion left I felt. My supervisors words lit a fire under me and after that, I made a writing plan and looked at all of the examiners corrections; I had 8 months left until my final submission and I worked tremendously hard. I had no childcare and my husband works full time, so I looked after my son and did my corrections in between. I overhauled the entire thesis and successfully submitted in March. My Viva was booked for May and after many sleepless nights and a lot of preparation, I went to my Viva confident in my newly revised thesis and confident in myself. Before the viva began, my supervisor had a word with the internal examiner who informally told him that I had passed! So when I went into the viva (which was around 1hr 30mins long) I had a certain confidence in me when answering their questions. They praised the amount of work that had gone into the revised thesis and congratulated me on persevering and completing it, especially with a small child to look after. At the end, they called me back in to inform me I had passed with minor corrections! I was so overjoyed. My message to fellow PhDers:do not give up. Word hard. Stay inspired. It is so worth it in the end.
posted
10-Jul-18, 23:12
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for Drhannahb
posted about 4 months ago
There are a lot of circumstances we have to overcome in life sometimes and these are obstacles to us achieving our goals. A PhD is a massive achievement and it doesn’t come easy. I really felt I was being tested by enduring two viva exams and going through so many personal problems during my studies. However, i view my son as a blessing and in hindsight, I am glad I got the revise and resubmit verdict. They could’ve failed me, but didn’t. They could’ve downgraded me to an MPhil but they didn’t. I had a second chance to improve my work and make it the best I could and although I didn’t realise this initially, when my motivation did kick in I worked tirelessly until it reached a standard I could be proud of, and that my supervisors could be proud of. I hope anybody else going through a similar situation sees that a positive outcome is entirely achievable and that when you do pass, it is worth all of those tears and struggles.
posted
11-Jul-18, 12:06
edited about 18 seconds later
« Moderator »
Avatar for HollyFAU
posted about 4 months ago
Hi Drhannahb,

You've definitely come to the right place to discuss your situation. This forum is full of like-minded individuals who can offer practical advice and words of support :)

Best,
Holly (PGF Moderator)
posted
11-Jul-18, 16:37
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
This is amazing! Thanks for sharing and massive congrats! : ) : ) : )
posted
12-Jul-18, 09:12
edited about 8 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 4 months ago
It is nice to hear a positive story here. Congratulations!
posted
12-Jul-18, 09:47
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for Drhannahb
posted about 4 months ago
Thank you guys, it’s so nice to have this community on here where we can share our experiences and motivate one another! It also gives hope to those who are going through difficult patches during their studies (of which the majority of us face!). I think it’s refreshing that many people on here are honest and don’t sugar coat their experiences. Sometimes academia can be so toxic and competitive that people crumble under the pressure and suffer mental health problems as they feel guilty for finding it difficult or feel they are not doing enough. I would advise that you try to ignore what others are doing or how fast other people finish their PhD etc. You can not compare two individual life journeys, so why compare your PhD experience to others? I did this a lot and now realise it was pointless.
posted
12-Jul-18, 11:29
edited about 1 second later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From Drhannahb:
I would advise that you try to ignore what others are doing or how fast other people finish their PhD etc.


Trying to apply this now! : D
posted
12-Jul-18, 23:36
edited about 2 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 4 months ago
One way to cope with trying to ignore what others are doing in comparison is to remember that a career is a marathon and not a sprint. The person who has blown away everyone at the age of 25 with a ton of papers, awards, prizes and applause still has to sustain a 40+ year career, still has to figure out the meaning of their own life, still has to negotiate their midlife crises (more than one), still has to go through decisions about life partners, marriage, children, buying a house, pensions, friendships, loneliness, illness, death and a vast host of other things.
In essence we are all the same and no amount of career success will change the fact that when we are dead, within a few years we will be forgotten along with all our opinions and achievements. Even our own great grandchildren probably wont know we existed.
We are riding around on a tiny rock (Earth) which is spinning around a vast ocean of empty space. Nothing matters really so dont sweat the small stuff.

None of that was meant to sound depressing at all. It is quite a liberating thought when you consider it.
posted
13-Jul-18, 09:01
Avatar for AlphaOmega
posted about 4 months ago
That, pm133, was possibly one of my favourite post on this forum.I agree wholeheartedly.
posted
13-Jul-18, 09:02
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for AlphaOmega
posted about 4 months ago
And congratulations to Drhannahb of course.
posted
18-Jul-18, 18:54
Avatar for Drhannahb
posted about 4 months ago
Thanks Alphaomega!


Pm133, Thank you for this. I 100% agree! I had the unfortunate encounter of having my Mock viva with someone in their 20s (I’m 31) who had literally just passed her own PhD and fits the description of the young academic competitive type you just described. I remember before the mock viva started telling her why I was in a position of resubmitting (due to aforementioned house move, marriage, pregnancy etc) and she gave me the most blank faced reaction, like I was a piece of crap ok the bottom of her shoe. Basically she had no sympathy for my situation, and after that point I had her card marked. I don’t know how people place their career ambitions above basic decency and sympathy, or understanding of others situations. We all have different life experiences and circumstances to work through. I certainly don’t judge other people’s PhD journeys to my own because I’m not a robot devoid of feelings. There are so many competitive nuts out there nowadays that I literally have 2 friends that I made during the course of my PhD. I don’t know if it’s worse amongst female academics but I feel like it is. They are much more judgmental if they know you are married or have children. I mean where do these arguments regarding equality apply when we think about how women are treated by OTHER women? I can’t ever say I’ve had an encounter with a male academic where I questioned my own ability, it’s always been women. But getting back to the original point of PM133’s post, one of the best things any phd student or early career academic can do is to ignore other people and in the grander scheme of things, we are not going to live forever, so why make life a race?
posted
18-Jul-18, 18:59
Avatar for Drhannahb
posted about 4 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Quote From Drhannahb:
I would advise that you try to ignore what others are doing or how fast other people finish their PhD etc.


Trying to apply this now! : D


The best of luck Tudor_Queen! Whereabouts are you on your phd journey? I wish you well. The writing up phase is definitely the most challenging but it’s the last hurdle to overcome (the viva isn’t as bad to be honest). I felt much more elated when I submitted my thesis than when the viva ended, because you know the hard part is over.
posted
19-Jul-18, 14:22
edited about 8 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 4 months ago
Drhannahb, you ask an interesting question about equality and how women treat other women.
The reality is that women are simply no different to men. They will work together when it suits and will be cutthroat at other times. I see no evidence whatsoever to support the view that women care about other women any more than men care about other men. There is no brotherhood and there is no real sisterhood. You simply cant afford to be naive about this when you are competing for scarce resources such as academic jobs. This is an enormous shock to young people when they reach adulthood and it seems to particularly shock women to find this out. It really shouldnt though. Women have been shafting other women for generations. For example, the pressure to conform over body size, make up and clothes comes from glossy magazines which have been largely run by women. The net result of that is a population of women paralytic with fear over leaving the house without layering their makeup on with a trowel, obsessing over their hair and constantly worrying about their weight. The vast majority of men just get up, chuck something on and leave the house. All caused and perpetuated by other women. It's a real shame. Of course it's not all women who obsess over their looks like this but just a walk down the street tells me that it is a majority. The "breast is best" zealots endlessly pressurising other mothers who want to bottle feed is another classic example of women making life needlessly miserable for other women.

There is no real equality and there cannot be real equality because everyone is different. Internal bias prevents it and you cannot get rid of internal bias. Instinct is there for a reason. Ignore it at your peril.

Sorry for going off topic but you raised an interesting point and people dont discuss this stuff enough.
posted
19-Jul-18, 20:32
Avatar for AlphaOmega
posted about 4 months ago
pm133 there is, in fact, a huge body of literature on gender equality and difference (google Luce Irigaray and This Sex Which is Not One); because you do not frequent circles where it is debated it does not mean the the debate does not exist.

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