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Supervisor there or not?

(21 Posts)
AlexandraEiffel Sun 23-Oct-16 17:33:35

I have my PhD viva coming up. My director of studies has said its up to me if he's there or not. I'm already staff, so he is a senior colleague.

My gut tells me I don't want him there. I feel more nervous if someone I know in that capacity is there, worried about sounding like an idiot in front of a colleague. I almost feel like I won't be able to do the 'performance' of the viva as I'll be inhibited by someone who knows the 'real' me. (I hate other members of staff being there when I'm teaching for the same reason)

But am I missing a trick? He says if he's there he can then help better if I get revisions as he'll be able to clarify what they are. Or of course if I have to have a viva again he might be able to feedback what didn't work last time. There will be a chair there, who is a colleague from another dept, and an internal examiner so I can access these people after the event too.

What do you think? Go with my gut? Am I missing something? Would you find it odd as an examiner for the director of studies not to be there?

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 23-Oct-16 18:44:58

I doubt it'd seem odd to your external if your supervisor isn't there - in some places, your supervisor would be expected to be absent. And I can understand your reasoning, and think I'd feel that way, too.

But, on the other hand - I had my internal examiner at my viva, and my external (who was quite new to that experience, FWIW), and I still had difficulties with my corrections. There were various reasons, but both of my supervisors felt that the instructions I was given weren't very clear, and my examiner later apologised for that. He's a very kind person who is absolutely not the type who'd mess anyone around, so clearly what happened was partly just miscommunication - and I can't help feeling my supervisors, who have much more experience, would have been able to intervene earlier and clarify the situation.

How much do you feel confident the internal could do that?

FlyAwayFar Sun 23-Oct-16 20:15:44

If you don't want your supervisor there, don't invite him. It's the norm not to have a supervisor there. Ad I think that's right - it's the candidate's work being examined.

But there's a compromise. What I've done as either examiner or chair, or indeed as supervisor, is invite the supervisor in for the second bit of the viva - the bit when, if there are corrections, or instructions about Revise and Resubmit, it's useful to have the supervisor there. I've done this as a supervisor, and just taken notes trying to get verbatim what the examiners are saying to the candidate. The supervisor may not speak, so I make myself useful as a 2nd set of ears for my student.

But I've only done this as examiner or supervisor when it's been Major Corrections or Revise and Resubmit.

AlexandraEiffel Sun 23-Oct-16 22:00:42

Thanks both. Interesting it's not necessarily the norm to be there.

Yes maybe just getting him in if its major amends would work.

I think the internal chair is pretty experienced so would also be pretty helpful.

Bountybarsyuk Mon 24-Oct-16 09:29:41

I wouldn't have the supervisor there, you already have a Chair and that's three of them (internal, external, Chair) and one of you. I don't go into my students' vivas, although I would if they specifically asked me, but I don't see it as beneficial, as by then, the relationship needs to be between the examined and the examiners- and that's the one that matters! You are more than capable of understanding or clarifying any corrections.

By the way, you shouldn't have to have another viva, and you may not get extensive corrections either, so don't be gloomy before you get in there. Tell your supervisor no, you'd rather go alone and then do your absolute best.

AlexandraEiffel Mon 24-Oct-16 20:31:59

Thanks. Yes I need to keep sight of maybe not needing corrections. I fluctuate wildly when I read my thesis between it being quite good, to not great. As I imagine anyone does.

I know how to get myself in the right frame of mind though, and have that scheduled in.

flumpybear Mon 24-Oct-16 20:34:19

I didn't and wouldn't either as it would put me off - can't see how him being there would help him understand your corrections if he is big in that field already - sounds a bit odd thing to say!?

AlexandraEiffel Mon 24-Oct-16 21:40:44

I'm glad it's not just me that would be put off. I thought I was being odd on that.

He's very chilled and will do whatever I think best to support me, so it might be I've misrepresented that bit.

allegretto Tue 25-Oct-16 14:11:27

I have just had to make the same decision and chose to have my supervisor there. The reason is, as stated above, that he can help interpret any comments on what to do regarding corrections. I'm not sure I have made the right decision though as it will probably make me more nervous.

AlexandraEiffel Tue 25-Oct-16 21:59:40

Now, in the interests of research, I'm duty bound to not have mine there so we can compare case studies wink

AlexandraEiffel Tue 25-Oct-16 21:59:57

And good luck!

allegretto Tue 25-Oct-16 22:07:34

Good luck to you too!

AlexandraEiffel Tue 01-Nov-16 20:16:49

Just to update, I had my viva and passed (with amendments). It absolutely felt like the right decision not to take my supervisor in, and I really appreciate people here giving me the confidence in that decision.

RedJellyCrush Wed 02-Nov-16 06:39:26


Bountybarsyuk Wed 02-Nov-16 07:13:40

Well done!!!!

Hopefully you now only have to satisfy the internal examiner for amendments (sometimes both)- after a few days celebrating, get them done and you can move on.

Congrats again!

allegretto Wed 02-Nov-16 21:04:19


AlexandraEiffel Wed 02-Nov-16 21:12:28

Thanks grin

I'm actually looking forward to the amendments. It's like I've discovered the missing piece in a jigsaw and I'm looking forward to crafting it.

allegretto Thu 03-Nov-16 14:09:23

I passed with minor corrections too. Can't stop grinning. grin

CustardShoes Thu 03-Nov-16 14:54:16


Bountybarsyuk Thu 03-Nov-16 15:10:46

Well done allegretto as well, this is such good news for you both.

Alexandra that's a great attitude to have, if you do decide to pursue an academic career, it will serve you well (I was crying and sulking for about two weeks!)

AlexandraEiffel Thu 03-Nov-16 20:14:47

Hurrah! Thanks for updating allegretto! Congratulations! grin

Bounty - I already do have an academic career, I'm a bit back to front in that way.

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