Finishing

  • I never finished drafts of my chapters in time to have someone proof them before I turned them into Barclay for our supervision sessions.  That isn’t something I’d recommend.  At the same time, it also takes a committed friend to read things in a rush like that.  However, I highly recommend having someone read the whole thing at the end.   Kevin Hill did this for me, and he helped polish the work to make it much cleaner. I’m returning the favour when he submits.
  • The thesis is never perfected, but eventually you have to turn it in and be done with it.   Francis Watson passed on to me what Andrew Louth told him while doing his PhD: ‘Theses, like all monographs, are never finished; they are just abandoned’.  Similarly, this is another point of view I heard: This is just a driver’s license.  Get your license and move on!

Viva

  • The best advice I had to prepare for the viva, other than rereading your thesis, was to read through the works of my two examiners, especially book reviews they’ve done because you can see how they assess various arguments.
  • Other things I did was to bullet point answers to these questions: can you summarise your thesis, what are your main contributions, why did you choose this methodology?

In case you are interested these are the 6 primary questions that are posed to examiners at Durham:

  1. Has the candidate shown that he or she is able to conduct original investigations?
  2. Has the candidate shown that he or she is able to test his or her own ideas and those of others?
  3. Has the candidate shown that he or she understands how the special theme is related to a wider field of knowledge?
  4. Does the thesis contain an original contribution to knowledge?  (The thesis should include matter worthy of publication though it need not be submitted in a form suitable for publication)
  5. Is the style of the thesis satisfactory?
  6. Is the presentation and general arrangement of the thesis satisfactory?
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