Mission accomplished

Mission accomplishedDirectly following from my last post I’ve now had my PhD viva and come out the other side with a pass. This is of course good news, if for no other reason I can legitimately call myself (or insist other people call me) Doctor Plant.

I have mixed feelings about my viva.Naturally there is a sense of relief that another part of the PhD process is finally over.Then there are the positive feelings of satisfaction that I’ve actually managed to successfully reach this stage (no mean feat in itself) and come through the other side (relatively) unscathed.Then there are the other feelings of anticlimax and some dissatisfaction with my performance in the actual viva itself.

I probably need to give a bit more detail to explain these mixed feelings a bit more.My viva experience lasted a solid 3 hours, which greatly exceeded the average time (i.e. between 1 and 2 hours so I was informed).My examiners were very thorough in going through the details of each of my four main chapters (i.e. the chapters reporting experimental data).They systematically went through the theory underpinning each chapter, the methods I chose to use, and the results and my interpretations of results.I didn’t necessarily expect that this wouldn’t happen, as the whole point of the viva is after all for me to satisfy the examiners that I’d actually produced the 400-odd page thesis in front of them and could coherently discuss the issues raised in the thesis orally, and therefore demonstrate that I actually understand what I have written about.I think it was just the precise level of detail and rigour that led me to feel like I’d been put through an ordeal.

My post viva feedback was positive suggesting that I’d generally acquitted myself well, defended what was defensible and acknowledged flaws where appropriate.I think, being the perfectionist that I am though, my mind tends to recall the questions where I was perhaps a little less than coherent and where there was an element of ‘blagging’ involved.Upon reflection, I’ve accepted that during the course of 3 hours of cross-examination, there would be bound to be highlights and lowlights.What is good about this is that it does definitely highlight the areas which I am not so confident with and this gives me direction in terms of what to brush up on.Not that I’ll be going through a similar experience any time soon but it will surely put me in good stead for the revisions that I’ve been given for my written thesis and will surely be useful for any articles that I am to write-up and for future work.After all, as I was reminded by a colleague in a congratulatory email, the end of a PhD is not the end or everything but just the beginning:

Many congratulations on the PhD, Chris. Gives you a chance to get started with your research although it probably doesn’t feel like that at the moment!


About chrissp1980
Currently a lecturer in speech pathology in North Queensland, Australia. I'm lecturing in acquired disorders of speech and language and also attempting to enthuse students in conducting clinically-relevant projects using principles of Evidence-Based Practice. Wish me luck!

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