MPLS Division: Prof David Gavaghan's presentation on Completing your DPhil
Exercise: plan of your thesis
- Your thesis title
- Your primary research question(s)/hypothesis(es)
- Your chapter headings
- The key message(s) of your thesis in (at most) five bullet points
- Describe your thesis to the person sitting next to you in a maximum of two minutes
- Get the person sitting next to you to tell you what your thesis is about
- What makes a good D.Phil Thesis?
- Have you got a plan for writing up?
- What problems are you encountering in writing up?
- How long do you expect it to take you?
- What do you expect from your supervisor(s) and what help are you getting?
What constitutes good writing?
- The ability to tell a story and hold the reader’s attention
- Punctuation……(including mathematical)
- Reference list
- English language
What does this mean in practice?
- In chapter 1 you say what you are going to say
- In the rest of your thesis, you say it
- In the final chapter, you say what you’ve said
- 1-3 above also apply to each chapter
- Remember your examiners are not likely to read your thesis in one go – make it as easy as possible for them to follow your arguments
- Overall the thesis must flow and tell a coherent story of the research you have done – you do not have to give a chronological report of what you have done, the thesis structure should follow the logic of your arguments/theses
What is the viva for?
- To check that the research in your thesis is of the required standard for a D.Phil (usually decided before the exam)
- To check that the work in your thesis is your own
- To check that you have a general knowledge of the research area covered by your thesis commensurate with holding a D.Phil in that area
What are D.Phil examiners asked to check?
The examiners must include in their report statements that:
- the student possesses a good general knowledge of the particular field of learning within which the subject of the thesis falls;
- the student has made a significant and substantial contribution in the particular field of learning within which the subject of the thesis falls;
- the thesis is presented in a lucid and scholarly manner;
- in their opinion the thesis merits the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy;
- the student has presented a satisfactory abstract of the thesis.
Examiners shall bear in mind that their judgement of the substantial significance of the work should take into account what may reasonably be expected of a capable and diligent student after three or at most four years of full-time study in the case of a full-time student, or eight years in the case of a part-time student.
- What to do if you have no decent results?
- Which forms do you need to complete before you can have a viva and where do you find them?
- What to expect in a viva. Dress code. Length. What to revise beforehand.
- How do you go about deciding on examiners for your viva?
- Job hunting during your write up?
- If you are an international student, don't forget to check when your visa expires
- What are the word limits for your thesis - departmental dependent so make sure you check in advance of writing. Same for format.
- Binding of thesis: soft for your examiners, don't forget to get one done for yourself. Hard only after final corrections have been approved. Where to get it done?
- Allow time to do your corrections after the viva - important if you're starting a new job. Do them straight away.
- What is your status at the university if you run out of funding but are still writing up? e.g. do you still have to pay college fees and a continuation fee? [Yes]
- Don't forget to back up ALL your work including your thesis!