Having just finished writing my EngD thesis you would be forgiven for thinking I had had enough of writing. Submitting the thesis was really only the start of the end as I’m sure a lot of others found. It seems to be never ending!
On the 21st of August 2012 I parted company with my thesis and handed it over to the research office. I then went home and had a nap. I got an A5 self-completed piece of paper to mark the occasion. I felt empty.
It wasn’t the anticlimax I had been warned that it might be, but it was disappointing. I’d worked my butt off to get it in on time and that A5 bit of paper was all I got. I did feel relief for about two weeks (probably exhaustion), then was back to having under lying stress about the viva.
You know the nagging feeling that you should be working whenever you are doing anything else, yeah? That. It was back. As soon as I had sorted out a new job and found myself back in gainful employment, the thesis started to creep back into my lunchtimes, evenings and weekends.
I started to read “How to survive your viva” by Rowena Murray about 3 weeks before the actual event. The preparation suggests starting 3 months before the viva but I didn’t have such a luxury. Personally, I found the book both helpful and intimidating in equal measures.
Parts I found especially helpful were the checklist (similar to this one), viva pack suggestions and the suggestions for the day before/morning off the viva. Some of these may seem obvious when you first read them but once the stress kicks in nothing is obvious. I would recommend reading it, particularly if you have never seen another viva. I think it can definitely help neutralise the fear of the unknown many students have.
Where do I start! I think this needs a post of its own…
Immediately after the viva I excused myself and made it halfway down the corridor before I cried. It was a mix of joy but mainly relief. I’d passed with minor corrections, which is what I had been aiming for. I only know of one person that passed with no corrections, it is a extraordinarily rare feat.
The first thing I wanted to do was phone my family but I had to wait a while before I could talk to them. I managed a sneaky text to my boyfriend but that was it. What I actually did was have lunch with my supervisor and two of my examiners which allowed some of the discussion to continue afterwards. Then I walked back to Uxbridge with a smile on my face a jumped on the tube home. That evening I had a couple of drinks with some friends and the next day I was back at work. I always find it interesting to hear what people do after their viva…
I have four main corrections to complete, plus some little text changes, but I feel very detached from the whole thing. My corrections are due to arrive next week while I’m away on holiday and then I have four months to complete them. I think completing them will be difficult having not written properly in 3 months. I’m going to use AcWriMo to help me keep me motivated and complete them by Christmas. I want 2013 to start thesis free.