One week left until the submission deadline for my Ph. D thesis!
Thankfully I’m at the stage now where I’m just looking for spelling/grammatical/punctuation errors. All the major comments from both of my supervisors have been addressed, all my figures have been finalised… It’s a good place to be.
So what happens next? Well, submission doesn’t equal getting a Ph. D!
It’s actually very similar to the process of getting a scientific manuscript peer-reviewed.
Every submitted Ph. D thesis has to get examined by at least two independent examiners. For us, it has to either be one local (within the country) one international, or two international examiners. The identities of your examiners are technically supposed to remain anonymous to you, but they get chosen by your primary Ph. D supervisor (I don’t know who mine are… *looks around nervously*). Generally speaking they’re in similar fields to your research topic, so that they can critically analyse your work.
Your examiners spend the next few months after your submission reviewing your thesis and preparing feedback for it. Feedback can range in a similar manner to a peer-reviewed publication. Sometimes it’s just accept with no change, or it’s just some minor changes (wording issues, clarification, further discussion required), but other times it might be major changes required- you need to do more experiments and get more data.
Either way, while your course enrolment ends upon submission of your thesis, until your thesis gets accepted by your examiners, you can’t graduate and become a Doctor (of Philosophy).
So you can celebrate submission, for sure, but you can’t truly celebrate until it gets accepted. Once it’s accepted, you get a formal invitation from the university to attend a graduation ceremony, and you receive your degree. You can dress up, and finally wear that mushroom hat we secretly just wanna put on because it looks ridiculous.
So, basically this means that while my submission is a week from now, I won’t actually be a Doctor until… probably late July! I’m hoping that my thesis examination won’t take too long, because the vast majority of its contents have already undergone peer-review in scientific journals (two of my results chapters are in one publication, the other is currently under revision and we’re hoping to have it accepted in the next month). You can note all of that stuff down in the thesis preface page. I’ve heard that some examiners tend to skim over chapters if they’ve been published, because they know it’s already been critically analysed, so… here’s hoping!
Either way, it’s a bit of a wait, but it is what it is. I look forward to running around in my big gown and mushroom hat in glee. Usually when I’m wearing my lab gown, I flap the hems up and down like a bird- you bet your arse I’m doing that with my Ph. D gown. It’s been a long and tedious journey. I’m getting my well-earned fun alongside.