Hello, readers! This is more of a diary entry/update, apologies; resuming normal service this weekend, when I’ll be covering the Winchester Science Festival!
I managed to pass my PhD viva last week. Very soon (or from now, if you like) I shall require people to address me as Dr. Noodlemaz.
For those who don’t know how such courses work, at least in the research sciences, you spend most of it doing a load of research experiments (and some reading) for a few years.
Then you sit and write it all up (as I’ve been doing since February-ish) in your thesis and hand it in to some (usually 2 in the UK) examiners who read it and think of questions to ask
Then the viva voce exam: you sit with them while they ask said questions, deciding at the end whether or not to pass you, and how many corrections (things to change in the thesis before final submission) to give.
Graduate! I haven’t done this yet; it’ll probably be in November/December, I think
How’s it feel? You’ve finished!!
Not really. I feel numb, it’s a huge anti-climax (not to belittle all the lovely people who have congratulated me, bought me drinks/food, given hugs and so on – you’re fab) after how stressful it’s been. I suppose it hasn’t sunk in yet – the worst bit is definitely over.
What it really feels like? Coming out of an abusive relationship of sorts. It’s been there constantly since 2007. It has overwhelmingly taken up most of my time, been on my mind constantly, guilt-tripping me for not spending time with it when I was trying to have fun… it’s made me stressed, depressed and only very occasionally happy because something worked out. This, however, is normal for PhD students.
On the other hand, I’ve met loads of fantastic people who have helped me through it, done some brilliant things in and around London over the years, and I don’t regret it now it’s (nearly) done!
I’ve got a surprising amount of corrections, mainly from my external examiner who seemed to be trying to make me break down in tears in the middle of it all. Some people have horrible exams, some people enjoy them (mostly because it’s an opportunity to talk about what you’ve been doing with the majority of your life for the last few years, in detail, with people who are at least vaguely interested and understand some or most of it).
I did not enjoy my viva. It went from a huge amount of praise about the quaity of my writing and the ease of reading it (rare for theses), how good my figures looked (with them not really believing I’d made them myself, it seemed) to being told I was just wrong despite having read giant piles of papers using the same terminology.
The corrections are pernickety at best, wrong at worst, and, unusually, my boss is challenging some of them. It’s a waste of my time, and it’s a waste of theirs (they want to read it again once I’ve corrected it, before I print hard copies to submit to the university library).
So this is where I stand. I have some work-type activities lined up until the end of August, then I need a propa job and am currently applying for some things. Science communicatey-type things, editing, stuff I’m good at/enjoy! Hopefully I’ll now have enough time to post more frequently about what I’m mulling over in my mind, since it’s not going to be totally preoccupied with thesis-things.