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Researcher Development

Researcher Development

After the viva

As mentioned in the previous sections, the examiners will have reached a preliminary verdict prior to the start of the viva, and they may have given you an indication of this at the start. Different examiners have different preferences in this area, so it’s important not to worry if you haven’t been given a ‘hint’ in this way. The one point at which you will definitely be given a clear outcome, however, is at the end of the viva, when the examiners will ask you (and your supervisor, if in attendance) to leave the room for a short period of time while they discuss amongst themselves.

When you return to the room, you will be given a clear indication of the recommendation that the examiners will make. The following flowchart outlines what these may be (you can download a PDF version here):

As we saw in the previous section, the majority of theses require some form of ‘corrections’ or ‘amendments’ after the viva prior to the final award (the two terms are often used interchangeably). In this section, we’ll first look at examiners’ perspectives on the corrections process, before examining how we can make the most of the examiners’ report (which you will receive along with an official verdict) in carrying out the revisions requested.

Listen: Michelle Bolduc [transcript], Bice Maiguashca [transcript] and Jon Blount [transcript] offer overviews of the corrections process, what happens between the viva and the report, and how ‘minor’ and ‘major’ corrections differ.

As part of the corrections process, the examiners will provide you with a report that details the corrections you are expected to make. This report can be lengthy, so it’s worth considering how you’ll tackle the process of incorporating its suggestions. First, make sure that you’re working with a new copy of your thesis: rather than editing the same version of the thesis that you submitted, create a copy of it, name it something along the lines of ‘Corrections’, and work with that. This will allow you to make comparisons between the ‘corrected’ thesis and the original; since making amendments often causes page numbers to change, keeping a copy of the original will also allow you to refer back to specific points in the examiners’ report according to the original numbering system.

You’ll also need to decide how to indicate – to yourself and to the examiners – that you’ve addressed each individual recommendation. One strategy is to copy the elements of the examiners’ report into an Excel spreadsheet, and check each one off as you address it, as shown in the following example:

An Excel spreadsheet with six columns.

In the image above, which shows a small fraction of one such spreadsheet, each individual comment has been copied onto a different line, and classified either as ‘minor amendment’ (‘MA’, meaning a change that needed to be made in order for the thesis to pass) or as ‘comment’ (‘C’, meaning that it was more of a long-term suggestion). Generally, ‘comments’ (as opposed to ‘minor corrections’) have been ignored, unless they were easily fixable; I have also taken care to acknowledge how each change has been made (in the ‘details’ column). Click here to download a (very basic!) template for a similar Excel file, which you can modify as you see fit.

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