PhD Thesis corrections: How to get them done and dusted!

So you have had your Viva and have finally passed your PhD!

Well done! Go and celebrate!

But we all know that thoughts of the corrections are lurking- try and suppress these thoughts for a few days.

What type of corrections have you got?

3 Months 

The most common result of a Viva is 3 months corrections. This means there really isn’t too much wrong with the Thesis, which is great, but it still means you have to open it up again.

Common changes:

Formatting, typos, additional explanation/clarification, minor alteration of figures, in some cases editing, occasionally re-writing a page or so of the discussion.

1 Year 

Our University has recently removed the 6 months option which means if the examiner thinks the corrections may take longer than 3 months, the next option is 1 year! This can alter your perception of the amount of work that needs to be done quite a lot. It might be that the changes are similar to the ones mentioned above, just that the number of these changes are greater. Or it could be that the examiner wants some data shown in a different way or takes a different view on a set of results, meaning multiple changes in the discussion to reflect this. These changes are not necessarily hard but may take time and if you are working full time may take more than the 3 months. So do not be deterred by 1 year for corrections, you will probably complete them in less.

Should you start your corrections quickly or wait?

Personally it took me 3 weeks to get started on my corrections.

I felt this worked quite well and would recommend it. It gave me time to celebrate properly and have a relax. It also gave time for my examiner to send me the full correction list ( I had a bullet point list given to me at the end of the Viva of the main changes) and for my letter to arrive from the University.This contained both my internal and external examiners reports- this allowed me to have a better idea of what they thought of the thesis, so I could understand my corrections better.

How do you force yourself to start?

I had a good Viva but by this point I was bored of my Thesis. I had revised from it in the 3 weeks leading up to the Viva and worked on it for months previously. After my 3 hour chat about it I felt well and truly done with it!

For me after the 3 weeks of ignoring the corrections, I started to feel a little worried. I thought perhaps these will take longer than I have estimated, I’ve got a Job now maybe it will take the whole 3 months!

This made me look at them and work out a timetable for getting them done!

I was lucky that the Christmas Holidays were coming up so I scheduled to do a lot of work then, I did a bit but not as much as planned and just enjoyed Christmas. January arriving fired me up, I was not having corrections hanging over me in 2017!

Because of not using the holidays as much as planned I had to do corrections in the evenings and on the weekends, which is a pretty common situation, but is still difficult to find the motivation after a full day of work.

In total it took me about 10 days of work but scattered around rather than working solidly. Its difficult to force yourself to do it but you just have to keep telling yourself how close you are.

I would recommend making a timetable and having an extra incentive to be finally done.

Also it is important to factor in allowing your internal examiner time to look over your corrections and approve them for final submission.

Many universities no longer require a hardbound copy of your thesis which takes the stress of printing out of the equation, with just a simple PDF upload to do instead.

But it does feel good to get the hardbound copy done. I wouldn’t wait too long after getting your corrections approved to do this step as otherwise ending the PhD process gets dragged out and I know many researchers that even after 3 years of  post doc haven’t yet found time to get their Thesis bound.



Hardbound copy of the Thesis means time to celebrate!


Finishing a PhD is a long process with many end points, finishing lab work, finishing a first draft, handing in the Thesis, having a Viva but handing in corrections is the true end point on the journey.



(and if you are not quite finished yet know that it is possible!)



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