Writing-up: Self-examination

My viva is in less than a month. To my own surprise, I am not panicking. I have somehow managed to absorb the reassurance I have heard from the department and the university that I will probably not fail and that the bulk of the work is now behind me. However, that still means I have to prepare myself, intellectually and psychologically. I'm back at home across the ocean now, away from my peers in Leicester, so this is pretty difficult!
I've already done the fun procrastination tricks, like putting in funky-coloured stickies to mark the chapters of my thesis, so I've now begun the task of reading it through, and finding the embarrassing typos and other errors. These are easy fixes, however. The harder stuff is finding that I now agree with the criticisms from my supervisors that I chose to ignore when I was finishing writing-up, especially that some arguments are under-developed. All of a sudden, instead of being a beginning to an academic career, my thesis seems insufficient again.
Although I am undoubtedly my worst critic, I would still say that it still merits a C+. We don't get marks, of course, but I like to approximate one, because it gives me an idea of the level of edits to expect to make. In other words, my thesis is OK; it's adequate. Some bits are very good, but the quality is uneven, and there are annoyingly sparse bits that bring my overall impression down. While I'd love to give myself an A+, and expect nothing but raves at the viva, I know that's not going to happen; but I will get some useful feedback.
Basically, I am preparing myself to elaborate on my own points and to rephrase points. What I have written down is already there, for all its flaws, but I am sure that I will be asked to go beyond, and I am preparing myself to do so. This makes me think about a different aspect of the "beyond" - I am back to wondering what this thesis is good for, in the end. Will I get a job with my doctorate qualification? Will I someday publish it and will people find it useful and interesting? Time will tell, I guess. For now, it's back to the green pen and the sticky notes!

Comments

MuseumWriter said…
My dear, I think you have struck home on the points that every PhD student feels more than once during their academic career! However, the fact that you acknowledge the flaws is a really good sign I should think!

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