Submitted thesis, now dreading viva

03-Nov-18, 02:18
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for Cookyy2k
posted about 10 months ago
I submitted my thesis last week and far from being a relief I am now getting less sleep and feeling more anxious than at any time during my research. I don't even have a viva date yet.

I submitted my thesis a day before my absolute deadline and for a number of reasons was unable to get any comments on it from my supervisor. I was happy with it and confident to submit but the next day the doubts began.

A little background, my PhD was industry funded and so had requirements from them along with the academic requirements. My "getting up to speed" with the industry group and helping with their initial project used a good 18 months at the start which yielded me no results for my work, just got me into the way the industrial sponsor did things.

Then I spent another 6 months tracking down a dead end in the lab meaning I had 2 years to gather data, analyse it and write it up. At the same time certain parts of the research were covered by nda. This has left me with no 1st author publications, 1 patent as a "co-inventor" and a thesis that I think feels light on results to show for 4 years worth of work.

Another problem I feel is that the only novelty comes from the fact that the piece of equipment I worked with is patented so no one else worked with it, this makes the novelty seem less of a "contribution to knowledge" and more of a development of an instrument.

The examiners could focus on my lack of publications, lack of results and the niche nature of the "novelty", then I have no real way to defend that. Saying I was working on something else for half my time for my sponsor doesn't feel exactly valid and I can't say how my thesis has contributed to knowledge in my area other than to develop an instrument.

Any advice or words of encouragement are welcome...
05-Nov-18, 16:04
edited about 13 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 10 months ago
Congratulations on submitting! You have done very well to get this far. Take a break you have earned it.

Having not submitted myself I may not be the most helpful but want to bump this as this might be me in 2 years. Though there isn't much you can do until the viva which is like 3months away? So sort out your life and organise your future (and take a holiday), worrying will not help you.

Your arguments against yourself are very persuasive, now make some arguments of why you deserve to call yourself Dr. You are self aware enough to see your flaws, so just think of counter arguments. Research your examiners, learn what they are interested in and if possible what their opinions are. Ask your supervisor what his opinions are and what to do. You have a patent and data so hype it up. Most people get amendments and you have to be very bad to get a straight fail.

Hopefully someone else can be more helpful
06-Nov-18, 05:15
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 10 months ago
Hi, Cookyy2k

All your worries here are just speculation of what could be. Don't downplay your work or contributions.

Lack of publication - It is understood that where there is patent application or industrial collaboration/NDA, there could potentially be delay in publications. Explain this when asked.

Lack of results - Explain that there was time spent assisting with the industry's research group. And that there was experimental issues while testing a particular deadline project.

Niche area of novelty - All PhD are on a specific narrow topic. Elaborate how your use of the equipment generated data that have never been analysed in the manner you did and the impact.

Prepare the best you can and all the best. Don't give up before your viva.
08-Nov-18, 14:48
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 10 months ago
Cookyy2k, I think you are perfectly justifed in being anxious about your viva. Certainly having no journal articles could make things trickier than they would for someone with a few papers. Submitting without having comments on the thesis from your supervisor is potentially a serious problem as well.
Both of these would have me awake at night.

There is absolutely nothing you can do to change these so let me advise on what practical steps I would take now bearing in mind what I said above.

1) Read the thesis again and again. Add post-it corrections as you go. Your thesis copy should be stuffed with corrections you have spotted yourself. It impresses the examiner if you can say "Aha, yes I have spotted that and I can correct it."

2) Know your thesis inside out. Make sure you can defend what you did, why you did it and why your thesis is saying something new. Be thoroughly prepared to be told things like "tell me what is original about this work".

3) Try and see if any of your work is potentially publishable and press ahead with that now so that you have extra to add into the thesis if needed and that you have something to say during the viva - "I've done all this since you got my thesis."

4) Remember you have co-authorship on a patent. Do NOT downplay this. It's a publication. End of story.

5) Find a way to believe in and be proud of what you have done. You have done sat on your hands for 4 years doing bugger all so don't allow yourself to believe that.

Hope this helps.
09-Jun-19, 14:18
Avatar for Cookyy2k
posted about 3 months ago
Just thought I'd pop in and post my results, after all these kinds of posts can be useful but it's annoying if you don't find out what happened.

So turns out I was worrying too much and causing myself unnecessary anxiety. I received a pass with editorial corrections along with a comment from my external about how the work was a pleasure to read.
11-Jun-19, 16:24
edited about 28 seconds later
by maxipat
Avatar for maxipat
posted about 3 months ago
Well, done you. Get your corrections done and get it submitted and the sit back and feel proud of your achievements....,. You deserve it, dont under play what you have accomplished.


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