Harsh interrogation

May 2, 2013

In the viva, the student is vulnerable, the least powerful member in the room, and for this reason the process should be more open and subject to scrutiny (“Whim and rigour”, 25 April).

My own experience was truly terrible. My external terrified me to the extent that I was literally speechless and I broke down in tears straightaway afterwards - and I’m not a wimp and am usually perfectly able to defend myself. She was severe and bullying, dismissive of my years of work and, in relation to my extended case study, had no interest in either findings or theory. Her focus was entirely on the ethics of my work - a good topic but not one which I had discussed at any length with my tutors and which was not part of my extensive preparations and mock viva. I just had no idea of the bombshell that was to hit me and ended up doing major revisions.

I think that, handled with more sensitivity by the external (the most powerful person in the room), I could have done my corrections in a minor revision, saved a year of my life and not been left with such a sense of utter failure.

Pauline McGovern

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns