In this episode of R, D and the Inbetweens, I talk to Dr. Nicole Morrissey and Dr. Victoria Omotoso about their experiences of doing ajorr corrections after their viva.


Music credit: Happy Boy Theme Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Podcast transcript


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Hello and welcome to R, D and the in-betweens.

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I'm your host, Kelly Preece, and every fortnight I talk to a different guest about researchers development and everything in between.

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Hmm. Hello, and welcome to the latest episode of R D the In-betweens.

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We're back again talking about the viva and specifically about corrections and outcomes of post viva.

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This episode is all about major corrections. Now there's a lot of anxiety around major corrections.

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The what that means in reality, that it's something terribly bad as an outcome.

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And hopefully the experiences of two of our graduates, Dr. Nicole Morrissey and Dr. Victoria Omotoso,

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will allay some of these fears and actually help you understand what major corrections are in reality and that it's really not so bad.

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OK, so I'm Nicole Morrissey. I did my Ph.D. in medical sciences or more specifically, neuroscience,

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and now I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the Medical Research Council in Harwell.

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Fantastic, so the big question is when you after you did your viva, what kind of car did you get?

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And so while I was in my viva because I had what's known as an independent learning plan,

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they kind of say I was just it was described to me that my corrections were kind of like minor, but with extra time or minor/major.

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Well, officially on paper, I got given major corrections.

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So that meant that I had what like six months to do the corrections rather than three months.

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Yeah, exactly right. And I think what you've raised there is a really, really important point and important way in which minor major corrections are used,

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which is that it's about time that it will take you to do the corrections.

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And it's all sorts of reasons why people have what might be classified as minor corrections,

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but they get major corrections to give them the time to do them.

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You know, lots of people who are already working and therefore can't work on the corrections full time or that,

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you know, there's all, you know, there's all sorts of reasons.

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And of course, having an individual learning plan, that means you're not able to do it in that period of time.

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And it's really about the time it will take you to do the corrections rather than the corrections themselves.

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How did they talk to you in the viva and afterwards about what specifically they want to do to do so through the viva

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We kind of just started. So mine was during the lockdown,

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so it was virtually so we were kind of all of us looking at our screens I had two screens set up one with the thesis and one with the examiners,

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and we were just going through the thesis just like a chapter by chapter going through it,

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just discussing what I did and what they kind of they thought maybe needed to be corrected.

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So I made notes as I was going through it, but also then afterwards it took it was about.

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First, probably three or four weeks after the viva I received the official documentation,

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which is when the examiners had written down what the corrections are,

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how specific were they about in that kind of list that they sent you about what you needed to do to get the OhD?

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I mean, they wrote down what the page number of what their point that they were like making and

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whereabouts on the page like first paragraph second paragraph halfway through the second paragraph.

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So that made it quite easy to sort of go through one by one and correct it.

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But it was at least clear to you what the expectation of the examiners was.

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Yes. And I think that's where a lot of the anxiety for people comes is they think it's not going to be clear what they need to do and it might,

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you know, be open to huge amounts of interpretation, whereas actually.

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Examiners tend to be pretty, pretty clear and pretty specific about what what is needed.

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Yeah. Like, I felt like it was kind of like a to do list, that I went through and sort of tickd things off

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Yeah, I like that kind of concept of it. So when you see, you know, you tackled your corrections, you talk to your supervisor.

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You ticked off the to do list. And you when you finished that, what happened?

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What did how did you resubmit the thesis?

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So I had to email the postgraduate admissions office and tell them I was ready to resubmit.

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And similarly to how I submitted in the first place,

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they gave me a link to the online folder where I uploaded it in both Microsoft Word and PDF format because I thought both might be helpful.

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And what happened then? How long of a wait did you have before you

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Actually, you heard that the corrections have been accepted? Um, well, I had quite a long wait.

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I ended up having to like ask about what was happening.

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I think because it was a mix of the pandemic and I submitted my corrections probably at the end of May.

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So then it was also the summer and people were away. So I didn't find out about my corrections until beginning of August.

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Wow. Wow. So it was quite a few months, and then I had a second set of corrections to do.

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OK, so this is so this is something that people often ask about is, if you know,

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submit if you submit the first set of corrections, what if they come back with extra things?

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So can you talk a little bit about?

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About that, about how how you got that extra set of corrections, what kind of things they were, how you approached it?

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Yeah. So it was, I don't know, frustrating, is the right word or disappointing.

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But when I went through like the the examiner's report of the second set of corrections,

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it became clear to me that they had read the entire thing pretty much.

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Or most of it again. Wow. And most of the corrections were just spelling errors and then a few suggestions

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and change like statistical tests or corrections to my statistical analysis.

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A couple of things that I didn't really make clear during my first corrections

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So. I kind of went through it and was able to appreciate like the like the effort and help,

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that the examiners provided to make it the best, that my thesis, the best it could be.

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And. I think also having quite a bit of a break between submitting my second corrections no submitting my first corrections and receiving the second lot,

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I was able to look through my thesis and with a clearer mind.

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It actually kind of it made it a lot easier to kind of get into a good, sort of like the best version of it can be.

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And so although it was maybe disappointing, I it kind of it was again another good learning experience.

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It made it a lot better than it was from the first set of corrections.

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Absolutely. And so how did how did that happen?

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Did they email you and say, Look, we've got a few more, few more corrections we want you to do before we can pass it?

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And then how long did you did you have to do the second set?

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Yes. So I got another email. Similarly, like before saying that.

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So yeah, it was like, before that I got an email.

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The exact wording. It said something like to like.

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Further corrections or something. And again, it was like a to do list again, but a lot smaller.

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Yeah. And I was given four weeks to finish complete them in.

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And you said they were kind of mostly. Typing spelling like really tiny bits of work.

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Yeah, which is kind of I remember seeing on Twitter being like a meme or not a meme, but like it's a picture with words saying, you know?

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That not to worry about or make going through your thesis.

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Make sure the spelling perfect cause the examiners aren't actually going to read it.

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I was like, well, it was actually it was important.

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Yeah. And then my examiners definitely like, Read it. So yeah, I was like, That's funny, but it's also not true.

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I think there's something really lovely that you said in there about the, you know,

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the the way in which the examiners approached the thesis and the level of detail about second time around that they read it.

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But they that what you see, the way that you talked about it seemed to be with a kind of that there was real, there was real care from the examiners.

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You know, your thesis. I mean, I I really enjoyed the viva

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I mean, it was, you know, it was a good chat about my work.

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And I mean, my examiners kind of like, I think the way you look at it, it's all a learning process.

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So. You know, it's.

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I think it's to be appreciated the kind of the time and effort that they put in because it's it's towards your own development.

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Absolutely. And. I think, you know, goes back to the kind of thing that we always tell people, which is that, you know, your examiners wants you to pass.

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They want you to pass and pass and produce the best thesis that you have that you can produce at that point in time.

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And you know, that's everybody's goal, not just yours, their job isn't to catch you out in any way

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Exactly. And one thing that I often get asked by people about major corrections is if having had

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major corrections somehow negatively affects your opportunities that come after the PhD

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And I have a very specific answer to this and a very brief answer,

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but I wondered if if you as somebody that you know, has has been through, it could talk.

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Or just comment on if there's any kind of impact. Long term from having had major corrections.

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I mean, I don't think so, so I mean, I got my post-doc position like before I'd actually submitted my thesis,

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so it didn't impact that and I can't see it.

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I'm just like applying for new positions now, and I can't see it impacting me here because it's not something that you generally list.

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On your CV or

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And if someone asks, you kind of got a question why they're asking you, because it's not like with other examples university or school exams.

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It's not really a very standardised because it really just depends on the examiners

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that you have and how like I guess what they what they think should be corrected.

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So it is very subjective and very much depends on the viva and on the examiners.

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Yeah, and that's exactly what I tell people.

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Everything that you said for it, when it actually comes to getting out in the world, nobody really asks or.

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Exactly. And in that case, because you've got a you've got a Ph.D. or whatever research degree you've been doing,

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you know, you you've it's it's not like a first or a 2:1, it's pass or fail.

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It's it's that simple. And so once you're through that system, it doesn't matter.

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If you've got major corrections and I think it's important to take some of the stigma away

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from corrections being a negative thing because corrections are actually quite normal thing.

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Hi, my name is Victoria Omotoso I did my Ph.D. in theology,

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and my research was looking specifically at audience reception of Jesus in film.

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So looking at audiences in South Africa and in the UK and how they respond to Jesus in films.

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And currently I am working as a lecturer, teaching theology and Media, IMedia Studies.

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Fabulous, thank you. So can you tell us a little bit about a little bit about your viva experience, but particularly and.

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What you what you had in terms of corrections after the viva

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and whether they were classified as major or minor and how the examiners talked to you about those corrections and in the viva?

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Yeah. So my viva experience happened in 2020.

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So obviously it was during the time of heightened kind of COVID restrictions.

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And so it was an online viva,

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which actually which did not actually detract anything away from the overall experience of a lovely engagement, even online.

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And my examiners were lovely and gracious, and I had, you know,

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good support in terms of kind of prepping of what that might look like, say the Viva itself went well.

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And then when I think the next phase when I returned back into the virtual room, I was given.

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Major corrections and major corrections, it was classified as because of the time they had given me,

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I was given six months in terms of the nature and you have to remember everything is

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kind of specific to the nature of your research and of what they require of you.

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So of course, everyone's kind of specific specific recommendations will be different.

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But in my personal case, it was to kind of go back on one thing,

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but they had given me enough time to gather all the extra extra kind of literary resources that I needed to do it.

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And at first, it was a bit harrowinfbecause I wasn't sure about what that meant.

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Like, you know, do I get a Ph.D. or what has happened?

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But it was only after a few kind of frantic calls to my supervisor and to kind of the chair.

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So there's always like a chair that, you know, sits in even online,

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and they were able to kind of explain properly what the process of these corrections meant and

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which then after I was a bit more calm and not too worried about like I will get my Ph.D.,

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but this is just what they require. And you know, at the end of the day, it makes it better at the end.

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So don't be like so disheartened when you feel like you have majorcorrections because the examiners at the end of the day do just want your best.

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They just wanted your best interests and will make a more stronger Ph.D. at the end of it.

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Yes, and I think that's really important what you just said there,

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because people do hear major corrections and they sort of shudder slightly because what

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they were imagining for major corrections is is a rewrite of the PhD essential

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which is not in any way what it is and not you like you say, rightfully put it, it's much more to do with the time it takes.

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It will take you to do the work. And so because you get up to three months of minor corrections and up to six months for major.

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So I wondered if you could say a little bit more about what your your corrections were, what kind of work that you had to do?

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Yeah. So yeah, like like you said, it was about the time. So I was given six months essentially and it was all on one chapter.

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It was one. I mean, I wrote six chapters and they were fine with the other six.

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But it was one chapter that they really wanted me to hone in on to get more kind of, you know, more kind of scholarly knowledge about the field.

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And it was it was a chapter on whiteness and whiteness in film.

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And of course, you know.

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This kind of day and age, you need to be up to date anyway with those, if you're going to kind of go to these kind of topics, say in itself

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That's what they told me to do. They gave me a list of books,

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a list of authors to go and resource and add those list of authors to my existing bibliography and add that already to the work I had already done.

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So it's important to note that it is having major corrections. It is the time.

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So, you know, by the time you get the resources six months goes quite quickly. Actually, in terms of resourcing,

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the authors going to different libraries getting the books you need and then

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taking the time to actually read through them and edit what you need and take in.

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You know, just kind of shifting things around six months goes by really quickly.

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So it was really helpful to actually have those six months in three months.

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I think it would have been a bit of a scramble. And so with the major corrections on the six months timescale actually was very helpful.

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And yeah, just even my own like personal like health issues as well that help me also spread out more,

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especially for, you know, people that have kind of, you know, different things.

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Life is just really hectic sometimes. So having that extra time actually was a blessing because you were able to kind

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of spread out a bit longer and make sure that you do the work properly and.

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You know, in the time they had given you so that was essentially what my corrections were

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was to add more and more kind of literary works to what I had already written.

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And so that is why I spent six months doing looking for the books,

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getting the books and reworking parts of that chapter that had now had all these new and more updated authors into them.

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Yeah. And so, you know, the overall from the sounds of it the corrections you had to do is to kind of further develop the literature and one chapter.

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But also it seems from what you're saying that they didn't just say that is the correction.

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They were actually very specific in what what they wanted you to read and to

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incorporate in developing the this kind of scholarly debate in that chapter.

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Could you say a little bit more about how prescriptive they were or weren't about what they wanted you to do?

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Yeah. Yes. So about a month after the Viva, the PhD report comes through

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The report, of course, gives a very detailed description of what they wanted.

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So there was kind of one.

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You know, there's a few other things actually, apart from the one chapter they wanted me to say to add a bit more of my personal views.

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So kind of my own positionality in the research say kind of.

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I mean, I did it and I added about like two, maybe three paragraphs, but they wanted more.

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And the thing is, it was really good because then I was able to actually sit down and write six extra pages talking about myself.

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Wow. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, from three paragraphs to six pages of my positionality, which is what they wanted, you know?

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So at the end of the day, it makes, you know, like I said, the end result makes for a much stronger Ph.D.

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So that was the other thing that they wanted me to do apart from the chapter, but it was all very detailed.

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It was like, you know, speak more about your positionality in this research

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And then kind of these are the authors that we'd like to add.

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You know, if you're going to talk about, you know, having more as well, you know, doing like, add more, you know, BAME authors.

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And they gave me names and books, specific books and authors to kind of go and seek out.

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And so, you know, they were they were quite gracious in the fact that they were taken the time to actually say,

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OK, it's not just, you know, go and add more, but actually these are the books we want to see.

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And these are the names we want to see to make sure that you have kind of covered all the bases of what we had asked of you.

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So they were very detailed in that respect.

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And then, of course, you always get those are the major ones and then you always get, you know,

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the little kind of, you know, minor grammatical ones that they said there was not many of those.

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But, you know, they also add that to the overall report in terms of, you know,

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you could have made the sentence a bit shorter here or ass a comment that there's kind of just like minor ones.

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And but overall, it was, you know, it was helpful to kind of just go through each point and say,

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OK, this is what they want and then kind of respond to that.

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And you know, there were there were moments where you could where, you know,

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you could, I guess, kind of push back a bit and, you know, say to the examiners

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You know what? This is what I meant when I said this kind of things like that.

00:22:22,900 --> 00:22:26,770
So, you know, it is, it is, you know, a dialogue anyway, that's going on.

00:22:26,770 --> 00:22:32,590
And at the end of the day, you know, like I said, they were all working towards the same goal,

00:22:32,590 --> 00:22:38,590
which is, you know, to have an end product that you will be proud of.

00:22:38,590 --> 00:22:43,360
Your supervisor will be proud of and the examiners themselves and will be just really happy to be like OK.

00:22:43,360 --> 00:22:46,960
They've done the work that they that we told them to do, and they've done it.

00:22:46,960 --> 00:22:55,610
So yeah, that was just the main kind of process of just kind of going through that report step by step.

00:22:55,610 --> 00:23:01,090
And with that as well. And it was great because my supervisors also see they get a copy of the report as well.

00:23:01,090 --> 00:23:02,830
So, you know, for the next six months,

00:23:02,830 --> 00:23:11,590
it was just the three of us really just going through this report and making sure that we kind of ticked all the all the boxes that they wanted.

00:23:11,590 --> 00:23:15,190
So that was made easier because, you know, OK, wait, one, they want to this.

00:23:15,190 --> 00:23:20,590
Have we done that? yeah, they wanted this? Have we done that? So it was just, you know, an easy list,

00:23:20,590 --> 00:23:25,090
kind of just going through and make sure that you tick the boxes and then you could kind of submit

00:23:25,090 --> 00:23:30,740
this corrections with confidence knowing that you've answered all their questions.

00:23:30,740 --> 00:23:38,240
Yeah, and I think that was, you know, like you say, it's not it's it's not as generic as you need to develop the literature in this chapter, you know,

00:23:38,240 --> 00:23:43,880
and it's not even as as as vague as you need to include more BAME authors, you know,

00:23:43,880 --> 00:23:50,870
a list of people for you to go about and think about, including and I think that that's, you know, that's what's really important.

00:23:50,870 --> 00:23:56,060
And for people to know is that you're getting a level of specificity in this,

00:23:56,060 --> 00:24:02,380
they're going to be very, very clear and specific about what they what they want and need you to do.

00:24:02,380 --> 00:24:08,760
Yes, to enable you to get it to the level that. Will get your Ph.D.

00:24:08,760 --> 00:24:14,040
What then happened with submitting those corrections? What was the process and how did you find out?

00:24:14,040 --> 00:24:19,950
You know, whether or not they'd been approved yet? So the process again was pretty simple.

00:24:19,950 --> 00:24:24,960
It's pretty much the same way you'd submit it first time round.

00:24:24,960 --> 00:24:30,210
You kind of submit that and try to just remember, did I submit?

00:24:30,210 --> 00:24:33,550
Yeah, I think I submitted one.

00:24:33,550 --> 00:24:44,770
With the comments say, I kind of did kind of two versions of that where I had one, where I'd kind of put the comments to say, OK.

00:24:44,770 --> 00:24:49,630
Page 12, Line 16. It was because that's how they were in the report.

00:24:49,630 --> 00:24:54,360
And I put that, Oh, I did this, that this author's now added.

00:24:54,360 --> 00:24:57,280
So I had all the list of all these comments in there

00:24:57,280 --> 00:25:08,860
And then I also had another copy that had no comments, but the corrections were made, so I submitted the one anyway, just in case,

00:25:08,860 --> 00:25:16,040
as a backup, the one that had no comments and they just submitted it exactly the same way to a email address the same.

00:25:16,040 --> 00:25:25,270
I submitted the first one and then it's kind of a waiting game there after.

00:25:25,270 --> 00:25:40,700
And then you kind of just get an email saying that you, you know, the examiners have reviewed your thesis and the exam board are happy to kind of.

00:25:40,700 --> 00:25:48,590
I guess, you know, award you with a Ph.D. and that's it for this episode.

00:25:48,590 --> 00:25:51,710
Don't forget to like, rate and subscribe. And join me.

00:25:51,710 --> 00:26:18,370
Next time we'll be talking to somebody else about researchers development and everything in between.


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