An Imperfect Thesis

“Submitted is perfect” was a piece of thesis writing advice that jumped out to me on Twitter a few weeks ago. I wish I could remember where I saw it, though I imagine the person sharing it was not unique in expressing the idea. There are several ways that the advice could be interpreted, some very helpful and some much less so.

It was intended to mean that getting a thesis in is a big enough goal: a “perfect” thesis is one that is handed in on-time rather than one which is “perfectly written”.

A less helpful reading could be that a thesis is perfect when it is submitted – and that if someone receives corrections there must be a terrible problem or situation.

It’s important to know what corrections are. A typo. A passage that requires editing. An update. A change of structure to a paragraph or a reframing of ideas. Corrections are requested when there is something needed to make the thesis better – but only because the examiners recognise the value of the contributions within the thesis.

Corrections are one more step in the PhD process, not a sign of an imperfect thesis, nor a sign of a problem with your work.