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Possible to submit corrections many years later?


User: positivemindset - 23 January 2021 13:11

I had a successful viva - minor corrections (2014). A number of personal issues came up that meant i was unable to submit my corrections on time.

This is now complete. Would my UK university still accept corrections and award my PhD?

User: PhoenixFortune - 25 January 2021 15:07

Quote From positivemindset:
I had a successful viva - minor corrections (2014). A number of personal issues came up that meant i was unable to submit my corrections on time.

This is now complete. Would my UK university still accept corrections and award my PhD?
Only they can tell you that. Did you inform your university of your personal issues while they were going on? Did they tell you of any procedures you needed to follow e.g. putting in an extenuating circumstances claim?

User: bob86 - 25 January 2021 16:54

Quote From positivemindset:
I had a successful viva - minor corrections (2014). A number of personal issues came up that meant i was unable to submit my corrections on time.

This is now complete. Would my UK university still accept corrections and award my PhD?

Your university will have literature on this in the form of a Student Handbook under the heading exceptional or extenuating circumstances. Usually you have to inform them at the time you are facing the personal difficulty as retrospective extensions/suspensions cannot be granted. So I’d imagine that’s going to be the major push-back from them. You’ll probably have to appeal to them in such a way that they overlook this aspect. Given that you actually submitted and had a successful viva after it, I’d like to think that they’d be decent about it and accept your corrections and award you the degree. Good luck.

User: abababa - 26 January 2021 00:27

If you formally suspended study, yes; though the nature of the question suggests you basically got the corrections then disappeared? (you are not the first, or last student, to do this; I'm not being judgmental!).

They would very likely either insist on a re-viva or say no. Because you didn't publish (complete) the thesis, and there's no guarantee the work is still a novel contribution after so long. Varies by field, etc., but in general whilst academics are (largely, subject to dispute) forgiving and sympathetic, University regulations are not. The general policies will say if you didn't return the corrections on time, you failed, and have probably been recorded as failed in your absence, because if this wasn't the case deadlines would be meaningless.

Realistically, you probably need to find a supervisor sympathetic to your cause, and self-fund (pay fees) for 1 part-time year for the supervisor to look at the thesis, and find examiners, and re-draft it to get it up to date.

Hindsight is 20/20 but I really think you should have just stuck the same document back in as 'corrected' in 2014 and crossed your fingers, since examiners are very hesitant to outright fail. By not even submitting them, you'll have failed as a result of process, rather than academic judgment.

User: saskia - 29 January 2021 09:48

A lot of this will depend on your University and funding body. For example, at my old institute, minor corrections had to be completed within 3 months and major corrections had up to a year from the date of the viva. At my current one, the main funder requires all PhDs to be completed within 5 years of the start date regardless of circumstance. That includes all corrections.


As someone else said, it's very likely that your work will no longer be novel. My PhD project was essentially a repeat of the work undertaken by the girl who quit her PhD before me. I once met her in a pub and she started crying when she found out what I was working on. Even worse was the friend of mine did the same as you and didn't submit their minor corrections. Essentially a second PhD student was simply given all of my friend's raw data and told exactly how to re-analyse it (publishing my friend's plots would be plagiarism but the University owned the data, so the new student could do whatever they wished, and the supervisors already knew exactly what worked). That person got about five publications from their PhD because they had all these easy wins from my friend's data plus time and support to collect their own.


I suggest you contact your old supervisor or department to find out. I hope it does work out for you but it will really depend. Let us know what happens!

User: bob86 - 29 January 2021 14:53

The original poster said they had personal circumstances that prevented them from submitting their corrections on time. Granted the work may no longer be novel (which is yet to be determined) but presumably this candidate invested 3/4 years of their life into this endeavour; surely the university can show some compassion and just award the degree given that the requirements (submission of corrections) have now been met? I mean, it’s not like the work wasn’t novel at the time of examination, it was otherwise he/she wouldn’t have passed with minor corrections. Is the university willing to fail this candidate outright and potentially bin 3/4 years of hard work because he/she didn’t meet a superficial deadline? That too on top of the personal difficulties this person may have been facing in the interim. I mean, when you really think about it, it just sounds ridiculous. We all know how demanding undertaking a PhD is, and how flawed the UK PhD system is, I’ve experienced many of it’s difficulties, as have many fellow posters on this forum. It would be refreshing to see institutions start employing some common sense and make the process a lot easier for candidates. I’m not saying to compromise on the quality of the actual research carried out, no, just get rid of some of these archaic, bureaucratic procedures that have plagued the system for many a decade.

User: PhoenixFortune - 31 January 2021 16:14

Quote From bob86:
The original poster said they had personal circumstances that prevented them from submitting their corrections on time. Granted the work may no longer be novel (which is yet to be determined) but presumably this candidate invested 3/4 years of their life into this endeavour; surely the university can show some compassion and just award the degree given that the requirements (submission of corrections) have now been met? I mean, it’s not like the work wasn’t novel at the time of examination, it was otherwise he/she wouldn’t have passed with minor corrections. Is the university willing to fail this candidate outright and potentially bin 3/4 years of hard work because he/she didn’t meet a superficial deadline? That too on top of the personal difficulties this person may have been facing in the interim. I mean, when you really think about it, it just sounds ridiculous. We all know how demanding undertaking a PhD is, and how flawed the UK PhD system is, I’ve experienced many of it’s difficulties, as have many fellow posters on this forum. It would be refreshing to see institutions start employing some common sense and make the process a lot easier for candidates. I’m not saying to compromise on the quality of the actual research carried out, no, just get rid of some of these archaic, bureaucratic procedures that have plagued the system for many a decade.
I can see your point, but the university would probably say either 1) a line has to be drawn somewhere, and/or 2) if they didn't keep their supervisors in the loop re: their personal circumstances, then they may take a dim view of retrospective claims.

User: glimmerbat - 02 February 2021 15:08

I really hope this works out for you, but as others have said, a LOT of people do exactly the same thing and don't hand in their minor corrections. Their reasons range from serious adverse circumstances to simply losing interest. You may not realise this but many universities and departments get penalised every time a student doesn't complete their PhD. Your old supervisor might have lost funding or even been banned from taking on another student because you didn't finish. It doesn't matter that you completed your viva, many funders will still count this as a fail (most research council studentships automatically fail after a specific time, usually 5 years from the start date or less unless evidence is provided at the time, and sometimes less). Those failures severely impact the grants available to academics and the funding available to departments. It's all very well expecting compassion for struggling students, but if you just stopped going to your normal job one day, you wouldn't still expect to have a job if you suddenly showed up six or seven years later, would you? Or if you vanished on your partner one day, would you expect them to still welcome you back after that long? But for some reason the thought that some Universities might not be 100% supportive seems to fill some people with rage. The sad truth is your actions could have impacted your supervisor's career. Hopefully not, but I know someone who just lost their job because several different students didn't turn in minor corrections within five years. The supervisor got blamed for it even though every one of them just decided that academia was less important than their real life. I very much hope it works out for you but your University might have seen dozens of similar cases over the last decade and might not be as supportive as would be ideal.

User: bob86 - 02 February 2021 18:02

Quote From glimmerbat:
I really hope this works out for you, but as others have said, a LOT of people do exactly the same thing and don't hand in their minor corrections... University might have seen dozens of similar cases over the last decade and might not be as supportive as would be ideal.

A LOT of people do exactly the same thing and don't hand in their minor corrections? Really? What statistics are you basing that statement on? I was the president of my university’s Student’s Association in the academic year 2019-2020 and NEVER encountered this situation. Statistics at my institution that I have the privilege to share with you: Academic Year 2019-2020 - Total examined PhD theses (68) – Total Passed PhD theses (67) – Passed with Minor Corrections (52) – Passed with Major Corrections (12) – Revise & Re-Submit (3) – Lower Award (1) – Failed (0). Bottom line: 98.5% of PhD theses examined at my institution in the academic year 19’-20’ were successfully returned with the stipulated revisions meeting the examiners’ requirements. The remaining 1.5% constituted the sole thesis that failed to meet the requirements of the PhD degree in the first place (i.e., at the point of examination). In other words, in the academic year 19’-20’ there was not a single case where a student did all of the hard work of getting past the finishing post (doing the research, analysing the data, writing it up and defending the thesis) and then simply did not bother to submit his/her corrections. Bearing in mind these statistics DO NOT include those cases where a student has dropped-out (at some arbitrary point in time during their registration period) prior to submitting his/her PhD thesis for examination as we are only discussing cases where the thesis has been passed subject to minor/major corrections or where a revise and re-submit is necessary. The fact of the matter is, getting to the point of thesis submission/viva examination is oftentimes so demanding (in so many ways) that the overwhelming majority of candidates will put in the extra effort to get over the finishing line. They just want it to be over with. Also, I’m fully aware of the impact that a student dropping out (not submitting his/her thesis) has on the grants available to academics/departments but it’s nowhere near as severe as you make it out to be.





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