All / Originally Posted on Skirt

Take Note: Almost Finished (the PhD, That Is)

This is just a quick entry to say that my viva voce exam is scheduled for Wednesday–I’ll be writing some longer reflections on the whole PhD process over the next few days, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, I’ve been a little distracted!  Please keep me in your thoughts on Wednesday morning (quite early for you States-siders…it’ll start at 10 AM Greenwich Mean Time, so just try and have good dreams on my behalf, okay?)

I’m confident about my work, but naturally there are a few nerves lingering about here and there.  I’m just trying to remember that by this time the decision has already been made–the examiners will have written a preliminary report about whether my thesis deserves to pass before I get to the actual exam.  The main purpose of the viva is to make sure that you understand what you’ve written, in large part to prove that you yourself wrote it.  I’ve been spending the past week rereading my thesis in order to prepare for the exam, and fortunately I’ve looked back over my work thinking, “You know, this actually sounds pretty good,” instead of, “GAAH!  Why did I say THAT?!”  So that’s a relief.

On the other hand, there were a lot more typos than I thought there would be…pink sticky notes everywhere.  There are also yellow sticky notes, to remind me to bring out certain theoretical points, green ones to point out where I repeated some phrases, and orange ones for citations I wanted to check before I went in (because I cited the work of my external examiner so much–don’t want to cite THAT wrong.)  A kaleidescope of sticky notes.

One of my most heartening moments in the past few weeks–and there have been many, as people from all corners of the globe have sent messages of encouragement–was running into an old acquaintance in the pub, where I was sitting with my sticky notes trying to get through the last few chapters.  He’d finished his PhD in Maths the year before, and he looked over at my sticky notes and said, “Ah, I remember those–I had about a hundred, and then I walked in the room and my examiners had about four.”

On that note (ha) I shall close, but I promise a longer update in the near future!

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