PhD passed: some initial reflections

Late last Wednesday I received the email from our Higher Degree Research Office informing me that my doctoral dissertation had been passed, “subject to some corrections”.

It was a while later before I was able to begin to read through the examiners’ reports. In our Australian system there is no viva, and dissertations are sent out to three external examiners for comment. I suspect this is a result of the tyrannies of distance, and also a relic of an age when theses had to be sent back to Oxbridge because God-forbid an Australian give a degree to an Australian.

The examiners were very positive, with two out of three being exceedingly so, and one employing such outrageously laudatory language that it became a little embarrassing. This was very pleasant to hear, naturally. Moreso, because a lot of my dissertation had been done in relative isolation – I didn’t have a good peer-group in my field on-campus, and my supervisor had been so overwhelming positive and un-critical that I was beginning to think my work must be genius or nonsense but who could tell?

A number of typos slipped through to the end, which is a shame, but almost inevitable despite careful proofing. I was heartened, though, that when someone corrected the accent on a Greek infinitive, they were as wrong as I was, and the correct form was something else!

On a substance level, the examiners were also very positive (indeed, emphatic) on the move to publication, and gave strong feedback on areas to address and improve in moving from thesis to book.

So at present I’m making those final edits – mostly the correction of typos – which will see the PhD ‘completed’ properly. The next graduation is not until September, sadly. I’m feeling very buoyed by the positive reception of the thesis though, and will move on to turning it into a book as quickly as is reasonable.



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