Monday, 5 March 2007

Viva Aftermath

Now that I'm feeling a little more levelheaded about the whole viva thingy, I suppose I ought to make a more levelheaded post about the current state of play.

The good news:
  • The examiners were very complimentary about my work, both in terms of quality and quantity.
The stuff we discussed in the viva was mostly minor typos and the odd howler which will only take five minutes to fix. There was one geometrical proof (Algebraic Topology combines algebra and geometry, but my work was largely on the algebraic side) which I'd completely made a hash of, but it's a well known result - just need to sort the proof out.
  • The viva itself went very well.
It was much more relaxed than I was expecting, even considering that I knew both my examiners were nice blokes, so I wasn't expecting too much of an interrogation. I hadn't really twigged that I was going to be the "expert" on the material.
  • I've got a much better idea of what to do next.
This will be even clearer when I get the proper list of corrections from the examiners. It's nice to finally have some certainty about the whole PhD thing. I've got a finite list of jobs to do, and when they're complete I'll pass. I think the hardest thing about pursuing research is that you're never quite sure how good the material is, how much needs doing, how much detail is required, and so on. This is after several years of trying things that don't work and wondering why you ever thought further study was a good idea.
  • I'm certain that I'll graduate in the summer
Most of the hanging around was waiting for a viva date. Once corrections are done there will be a very quick turnaround.
  • I'm sure of help from various sources
The external examiner's said he's very willing to discuss the problem with me. I'll have to pop to Leicester for that, but 'tis very nice. Similarly my supervisor has some free time at last, and the internal's already been very helpful.
  • The worst case scenario's quite good
Even if I throw away all of the results which are affected by the techincal hitch, there's still enough material to get a PhD.

The bad news:
  • I've not passed.
I think this really comes back under the certainty headline. For one thing, it's nigh on impossible to explain exactly what's going on succinctly.
Minor corrections? No problem: "I've passed, just need to do some corrections".
Me? A little trickier: "There's a technical issue affecting five chapters of my thesis. The examiners felt that a pass with minor corrections would put me under too much time pressure. There's no further oral exam, but I need to sort out the issue and resubmit. Unfortunately this could involve a fair bit of reorganisation and possibly typing. I've not passed yet, but will soon. I don't know how complicated the problem is, so don't have any idea about a timescale."
This is rubbish when you're trying to a) let people know how it went, b) trying to go out and celebrate afterwards.
  • I can't get on with it yet
I love university administration. I can't get books out of the library just yet - need a form signed. I've not yet got the list of corrections, and don't really have a precise idea of what I need to fix. I've done some preparatory thinking, but can't really get stuck in at the moment. Again there's a book that would help with this, but it's in the library.
  • I can't get on with other things
The thing I was most looking forward to was not having to do any more maths, getting a job & earning more money. I was hoping/assuming that minor corrections could be done in the evening around a job.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Following a chat with my supervisor, and Hadi getting the relevant book out for me, I can now get on with it. I'm just not feeling very well. Urgh.