Submitted PhD thesis
A few months ago, I submitted my PhD thesis. After all of the preparation and writing, submitting was somewhat of an anti-climax. This is because submitting those nicely bound volumes means nothing unless someone is going to read and examine them to determine if the work they contain will earn you the degree and the right to call yourself Dr.
In the UK, these examinations often happen some time after submitting, in a process known as the viva. These exams involve the examiners coming to the university/institute and conducting a private, face-to-face examination of your knowledge and the work presented in the thesis, often over a number of hours.
All this is purely explanation of the main point:
I had my PhD viva on Monday and I passed!
I passed with the most common outcome; minor corrections. This means that whilst I have passed, the examiners would like some changes to be made before the final version of record is submitted. It is only when they are happy with those changes that I will officially earn the degree.
For now, I’m beginning to come down from the celebrations and start working towards the corrections. So it is still not yet the end; I think the real closure will happen when the award letter and certificates are in my hands.
Submitted PhD thesis
Yesterday, I submitted my PhD thesis! The culmination, to the day, of 3 years, 9 months of work, distilled into 145 pages. It means that I can now return to “normality”, having become somewhat of a hermit over the last month whilst I pulled out all the stops to get it completed.
It’s a great relief, and I hope I don’t need to write a document that long again for a while. It’s also not over yet though. For those who don’t live in the academic bubble, I just thought I’d explain what this means, and after what point I’ll officially “get” the degree.
What happens next?
Currently, the university is looking after my two submitted copies, until two people (one within UCL and one from outside) can be found to conduct an examination. They will then read the thesis and after that, the 3 of us will sit down in a room and they’ll question me on it – this is the oral exam or ‘viva’.
The outcome of this meeting will decide whether or not I am awarded a PhD. The most common outcome is “minor corrections”, where the examiners will award the PhD on the condition that various mistakes are corrected or additional information added before the final version of record is produced. This is version that will end up in the library at UCL. Once the examiners have approved those corrections; then I’ll be Dr James. So it’s not over yet, but the end is in sight 🙂
As a PhD student in the life sciences, there are plenty of professional/scientific societies vying for me to join them. These range from the very general, covering all science such as the AAAS, through the general biology (Society of Biology) down to specific fields (Biochemical Society) or techniques (Royal Microscopical Society). Most seem to come with a student rate, subscription to the society’s journal and some obscure postnomial letters. Perhaps most importantly, becoming a member often entitles you to apply for travel funding, as hapsci pointed out.
On the other hand, joining a society requires outlay of some (normally small for student) membership fee, pestering your PI to sign a form stating you are student of a relevant discipline and for the travel grants, anticipating when you want to travel as some societies require you to have been a member for some time prior to asking them for money.
So I’m putting it out there; is it worth joining these societies as student, and if so, how many?