The Dream of No Corrections

Dreams do come true.

Sometimes.

But wishing and dreaming that you get no corrections for your thesis is a fantasy that’s best left alone. Some candidates find out at the end of their viva that they have no corrections to complete, but not many.

It’s nice if you have no corrections, but it’s more typical to have something still to do.

Rather than dream about having no corrections instead focus on writing the best thesis you can, preparing as well as you can and being ready to engage with your examiners.

You might not get corrections – but you probably well.

It’s probably better to dream of something else.

Everyone Makes Miskates

Corrections aren’t a sign you’ve necessarily done something wrong in your thesis. The request from your examiners is a helping hand to make your thesis as good as it could reasonably be, given that your thesis is a permanent contribution to knowledge. They want to help.

Most PhD candidates are asked to complete corrections. This doesn’t mean that most candidates are failing somehow or that most candidates don’t care.

It shows that writing is hard. Writing long, involved texts – books! – is hard.

Practice helps. Feedback helps. Investing time purposefully to get better, of course, helps. Proofreading and editing and revising all help.

And after all of that you can still miss things.

When you’re asked to complete corrections, as you most likely will be, just remember that it’s another part of the PhD process. You didn’t do anything wrong; you now have the chance to make things better.

 

A short post that occurred to me today, as I sit slightly stunned that this is my 1500th daily post on the blog – and I remember the many, many mistakes I’ve made over the course of nearly 250,000 words!

Avoiding Corrections

If you go for a walk on a rainy day you can step around as puddles as much as you like, but your shoes are probably going to get pretty wet. That’s just what happens. You can’t avoid it.

If you submit a PhD thesis you can proofread and edit for months beforehand, but your examiners will probably find something for you to correct. That’s just what happens. You can’t avoid it.

If your shoes get wet on a rainy day then there’s simple steps you can take afterwards to dry them.

It’s the same with corrections. You’re given a list. You know why your examiners are asking for the corrections: to help make your thesis the best it could be. Not perfect, but the best that anyone could reasonably expect. To complete them you make a plan, work carefully and get them done.

You should obviously work to submit the best thesis you can, but you can’t do much to avoid corrections.

Clearing Up The Vague

You have to read your thesis to get ready for your viva, even if you don’t want to. You thought about it, you wrote it, you rewrote it and now you’re done-

-except you read it and you think you could still do some more.

A paragraph that meanders. A section that is too long, or perhaps too awkward. The odd typo or twenty is fine, but what about the places that proofreading forgot? What about the vague sections that sort-of-but-don’t-quite make the point you wanted?

You grin and bear them in the viva, if they’re brought up. You explain what you meant, and what you would do to make it better – not perfect, never perfect – but better in your corrected thesis.

And when you see them during your prep you think, you write and maybe rewrite again, leaving a note in your margins or on a Post-it, clearing up the vague that you left in. They don’t disqualify you or your thesis at all.

There’s just that little bit more to do, then you really will be done.