We need to talk about … Corrections part 1

15 minute #AcWri day 4

This is a post that was written in my head a few months back, though I knew that some space between doing and handing in my thesis corrections would be necessary before I sat down to write.

I defended my PhD thesis at the beginning of the summer and have to say it was a very positive and encouraging experience. I felt prepared and both terrified at the same time, I got so nervous the day before that I was almost sick and had nightmares about it for weeks before. On the day my examiners were amazing they brought out the best of my arguments and picked up on things I had not even thought about too much – in a constructive way. Needless to say they did not ask me any of the questions I had prepared for and after nearly two hours of defence I was sure I had passed but not without some type of corrections.

I had the few weeks in the lead up to the viva reading my thesis, finding over 50 typos! And talking to colleagues about their varied experiences and listening to the mega helpful Viva Survivor podcasts run by Nathan Ryder (@DrRyder). Listening through the different ways in which people had prepared for and defended their vivas so really helpful in dispelling myths and making me think more pragmatically about it as a process. The most helpful podcast I listened to was an episode featuring Dr. Fiona Whelan about significant revisions and what it feels like to do them. I realised that this is a topic many people like to shy away from. They always seem to say they passed and then just casually brush over the correction part – no-one wants to talk about corrections!

Together with the sage advice of my supervisor and various podcasts and gratefully honest blog posts I began to view the viva as a the opportunity to have a captive audience with the few people who would ever actually read my whole thesis. Understanding that it was in their interest that I pass with a thesis that I could be proud of I also prepared myself for the inevitable corrections. There was no way I was going to get away with a straight A pass, it’s just not in my nature! I had spent the last of my savings hiring a proof reader so that I could feel safe in the knowledge that my corrections would be content rather than punctuation based (yes despite the 50 typos I later found!). I told my self that at least if they were content based it would be something I could wrestle with and find resolve – unlike my lifelong battle with commas and semi-colons.

I passed with a Bi category which at my institution means revision and re submission with no further oral exam. My examiners explained to me that the corrections were such that they could not be done on the 4 weeks turn-around required of the Ai pass – they reckoned it would take about 3 months in total. They were right it did …

And next post I will explain how it went and how I found a way to enjoy my corrections …



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