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Adelaide9216

I failed my thesis.

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Posted (edited)

Just learned the news today. I am still in shock. I did not expect to fail, even if I knew my thesis was not perfect. I was expecting a pass with revisions. Even my supervisor was not worried for me (she told me so yesterday). I just need emotional support right now. I need not to let my emotions get to me. I have won a major scholarship for my doctoral studies starting in September, so I need to resubmit by August. Otherwise, I am screwed. If I fail a second time, I won't graduate which means that my admission and scholarship offers will be revoked from me. 

 

 

 

Edited by Adelaide9216

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10 minutes ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Just learned the news today. I am still in shock. I did not expect to fail, even if I knew my thesis was not perfect. I was expecting a pass with revisions. Even my supervisor was not worried for me (she told me so yesterday). I just need emotional support right now. I need not to let my emotions get to me. I have won a major scholarship for my doctoral studies starting in September, so I need to resubmit by August. Otherwise, I am screwed. If I fail a second time, I won't graduate which means that my admission and scholarship offers will be revoked from me. 

 

 

 

*big virtual hug* feel free to PM me

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Posted (edited)

Thanks. My supervisor believes the thesis examiner was too severe. Unfortunately, she will be evaluating the second version of my thesis. This is totally unexpected. Just to give you an idea, my department had nominated me for a convocation award this term...However, I know my thesis was not perfect. But there are a lot of changes I will make just to "make her happy" her at this point since she has the final word. 

 So I made a chart with all of the comments she made on my work (at least, the comments appear somewhat easy to apply and are clear and precise) and I will address each comment one by one. If she fails me after this, I bring her to the Dean.

I also made myself a calendar of each section that I need to rectify week by week until August. I also contacted my prospective university for doctoral students to have clarification about the moment I need to show that I passed my thesis. They say I need to submit my final transcript by the end of August, and a proof of my master's degree by the end of December. I can still save my case but I asked for clarification about those deadlines.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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I'm also happy that I am self-confident enough that I don't see this failure as a failure of who I am in terms of intelligence and ability. I know this is also a matter of the fact that  I have received very little guidance on the part of my supervisor throughout my master's degree. This is the second time that something backfires in my master's degree, and both times, she never warned me, prepared me or anticipated it. But I won't tell her that because I know she loves me a lot, and probably feels very guilty already. I'm sure that out of all of her students, she surely did not expect me to fail. She knows me, my work ethic, and the fact that I am a hard and dedicated student. But my family was very upset when they learned I had failed because I spent the last year complaining to them about how I felt like I did not have as much feedback as I wanted to. I almost had to defend her. I had to clarify with my family that my supervisor does not have bad intentions towards me. She definetly wants me to succeed. But I think she was overly confident in my ability to do this and did not offer me enough guidance.

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I asked my supervisor if another professor in the département could also take a look on my thesis before sending it off to examination. She agreed. But between you and me, I think she loves me so much that she doesn’t see clear when it comes to my work. I have a feeling that she overestimated my ability to do this, hence why I received little guidance despite me asking for feedback.

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I'm really sorry to hear about the situation. I will say that I am impressed with how you've already pulled together a plan and are not being too hard on yourself. It is unfortunate that you did not have the guidance you needed. It's great that you have a good relationship with your advisor, but I think it was wise to ask about having another set of eyes on your work. You have clear feedback and it seems you have good odds at pulling through. I wish you the best of luck.

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5 minutes ago, Meraki said:

I'm really sorry to hear about the situation. I will say that I am impressed with how you've already pulled together a plan and are not being too hard on yourself. It is unfortunate that you did not have the guidance you needed. It's great that you have a good relationship with your advisor, but I think it was wise to ask about having another set of eyes on your work. You have clear feedback and it seems you have good odds at pulling through. I wish you the best of luck.

Thanks!!!

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On 4/25/2019 at 5:47 PM, Adelaide9216 said:

I'm also happy that I am self-confident enough that I don't see this failure as a failure of who I am in terms of intelligence and ability. I know this is also a matter of the fact that  I have received very little guidance on the part of my supervisor throughout my master's degree. This is the second time that something backfires in my master's degree, and both times, she never warned me, prepared me or anticipated it. But I won't tell her that because I know she loves me a lot, and probably feels very guilty already. I'm sure that out of all of her students, she surely did not expect me to fail. She knows me, my work ethic, and the fact that I am a hard and dedicated student. But my family was very upset when they learned I had failed because I spent the last year complaining to them about how I felt like I did not have as much feedback as I wanted to. I almost had to defend her. I had to clarify with my family that my supervisor does not have bad intentions towards me. She definetly wants me to succeed. But I think she was overly confident in my ability to do this and did not offer me enough guidance.

I am sorry to hear that your thesis was failed, but I am also glad that you are persisting and working hard to try again. Unfortunately, failure happens all the time in research. I got a paper that was rejected twice before it got published. Guess what? Everyone in my department thought the work was great. 

I know your advisor is nice to work with and she wants you all the best. However, I am concerned about her lack of guidance and overestimation of your ability to do research, as you indicated. If it is a communication problem, then find ways to improve it. It would be difficult for her to offer guidance if she is not aware that you are struggling. This is easy to solve. If it is an issue of expertise and experience, then it is a red flag. An advisor should be able to identify obvious flaws in your research and warn you about that. Ideally, they should work with you to sort them out.

There are strict examiners out there, but a thesis that receives a fail must have some serious issues. Are you going to stay with the same advisor for your PhD? If so, then you need to consider carefully. I am not saying that you should not choose her, but you need to ensure that all the issues leading to the fail of your master thesis are resolved. Otherwise, you risk working very hard on your PhD only to receive a fail again in the end. Having been with toxic advisors, I reckon the importance of having an advisor that "loves" you, but they also need to be able to help you succeed.  

My apology if I sounded too harsh. I was just trying to offer some objective thoughts. I am by no means saying that your advisor is bad. Feel free to PM me and chat =] 

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I am sorry that you're in pain right now. I hope that you're able to navigate the tangled path that awaits.

 
 
 
2 hours ago, Hope.for.the.best said:

There are strict examiners out there, but a thesis that receives a fail must have some serious issues. 

I agree. 

@Adelaide9216, I very strongly recommend that you do your best to put aside your understandable sense of disappointment and your other feelings when you read through the comments. The exercise should be more than just doing what you need to do to satisfy a stern critic.

I urge you to assume good faith on that individual's part. I recommend that you step away from thoughts about going to the dean if she doesn't do what you want her to do. Yes, it may come to that, but if you approach the revisions with that option in mind, your emotions may get in the way for an opportunity for intellectual and personal growth.

I suggest that you look at this unfortunate outcome as a temporary set back and an opportunity for professional and intellectual growth in addition to how you feel about it personally.

I recommend that you develop a plan of action with a time table. What follows are very broad brush /YMMV recommendations.

  • I suggest that the first item on the list should be to put your thesis and the comments aside for at least one entire week so you can spend time working with your feelings.
  • Then, reread a clean copy of your thesis in one long sitting.
  • A day or two later, study the critical comments assuming good faith on the reviewers part.
    • There will be points that resonate, others that you can take or leave, and some that are likely nitpicking. 
  • From this study,  develop talking points for a discussion between yourself and the reviewer.
    • This conversation could be attended by your advisor or not, as you see fit. (I would recommend doing it alone.) I would recommend that the conversation involve more listening on your part than talking.
    • (The desire to debate will be almost overwhelming, but please try to put that aside.)
  • After this conversation, take a break of a day or two.
  • Then, revisit the list of recommended changes and, point by point, develop a matrix of what has to be changed, what might be changed, and (if necessary) where you're going to hold your ground.
  • From there,  develop a time table that sees you working on the revisions and checking in with your advisor and the reviewer.
    • The objective of these check-ins is to make sure that everyone is on the same page IRT what you're going to do and (if necessary) what you're not going to do.
  • Concurrently, do what you can to assemble a couple of red teams who will take one and only one look at all or parts of the revised thesis with a critical eye and very sharp blue pencils (if possible.)
  • Throughout, you will need to find a healthy balance of paying attention to how you feel while not letting those feelings overwhelm the process. To paraphrase, the woman rides the horse, not the other way around.

 

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Thank you everyone for your responses. Sorry for the lack of responses, I am working on the edits since yesterday. I have made a table of all the changes I need to make and I will address all of them, including where she mentioned "this part is good, but could have been better" I want her to see that I went above and beyond... 

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Posted (edited)

I work on this everyday. Yesterday was the first day I took a day off ever since I learned I have failed. It's really hard emotionally, I feel anxious very often, but at least, I'm into action mode. Thanks everyone and I really appreciate those of you who PM'd me to check on me. It means a lot to me. I emailed my department and they said they will do everything to make sure I pass (even if I don't exactly know what that means).

Everyone is confident that I can succeed (family, friends, colleagues, supervisor, department) but I am still doubtful due to what happened. I'm just scared of that reviewer. Even the best parts I have done in my thesis (according to her) did not get a great mark. She is very severe and has high expectations...I don't think she wants to fail me, and I always believed she had good faith. But she does have very high expectations, and I was told that she is expecting stuff that are not required for a master's thesis (but that I still will do due to the fact that she will evaluate the second version of my thesis).

If I fail again, even if I'd bring it to the Dean, I'd still lose Vanier and my PhD admission. So I have decided that ff I fail again, I think it'll just mean that doctoral studies weren't meant for me and that my road is elsewhere, which I am ready to accept. I have a lot of willpower and drive, but in the end, life has the last word. I did everything I could to pass, I don't think I am to blame for what happened. There are a lot of external factors to this situation that were against me. Sometimes, it just isn't meant to happen. I will do everything to pass, but I'm ready to accept failure and to leave academia if this isn't for me.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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18 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

But she does have very high expectations, and I was told that she is expecting stuff that are not required for a master's thesis (but that I still will do due to the fact that she will evaluate the second version of my thesis).

If you're so inclined, I recommend that you take a look at her master's thesis/report, her doctoral dissertation, and also recent theses that she supervised (with most of your effort spent on this last task). You may be able to get additional insight IRT her expectations. Ideally, the patterns are clear and consistent.

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2 hours ago, Sigaba said:

If you're so inclined, I recommend that you take a look at her master's thesis/report, her doctoral dissertation, and also recent theses that she supervised (with most of your effort spent on this last task). You may be able to get additional insight IRT her expectations. Ideally, the patterns are clear and consistent.

Good advice! Thanks!

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There's a free colloquium happening this week that is directly related to my PhD research subject. My friend organized it. There will be elected officials, and other very important people for my research project. It's a huge event. I have taken days off from work to attend. But I am hesitating to attend because it won't be useful to attend an event for my PhD studies if I can't pass my master's thesis. So I am thinking of taking those days off to work on my thesis instead. Plus, there will be a lot of people that I know at this event and I don't necessarily want everyone to ask me about how my thesis evaluation went. 

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Wow, Vanier public announcement is next week. I thought it'd be later in the summer. Everyone is going to congratulate me and I don't even know if I am actually going to be a PhD student next September. :(

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@Adelaide9216  I have also had a rough time in my program and have been horribly unsupported in my research training, but have never regretted attending colloquiums that are relevant to my area of interest.  By doing so my motivation is renewed and I often chat with others about ways to improve my work or expand on ideas I have.  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Wow, Vanier public announcement is next week. I thought it'd be later in the summer. Everyone is going to congratulate me and I don't even know if I am actually going to be a PhD student next September. :(

Wow, we just got asked by university to provide a picture and description of research project. So much pressure. :(

Edited by Adelaide9216

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15 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

My thesis advisor apologized to me today. She said I should not have failed and she entirely understands the pressure I am feeling right now. 

I’m glad she apologized. What does she think of the comments (why does she think you should have passed)?

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She has told me that she does not agree 100% with the evaluation made by the external examiner. She thinks the examiner was too severe. I told her that my family and some of my friends even think that this examiner purposefully want to fail me out of jealousy or something (I'm well-known in my field of study where I live, so the examiner must know who I am according to my friends and family). But I don't know if she purposefully wants to fail me, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to people most of the time. My supervisor also told me that she has a lot of empathy for the situation I am in (may lose Vanier and doctoral admission).

Either way, my supervisor thinks that there are very few chances that I fail again if I apply everything she mentioned in her comments (which I plan on doing). She told me that if that examiner fails me again, I can report it to the Dean. Also, the examiner took one extra month to correct my thesis when the deadline was within 4 weeks. That gives me one month less in terms of time to correct my thesis...

 

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5 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

She has told me that she does not agree 100% with the evaluation made by the external examiner. She thinks the examiner was too severe. I told her that my family and some of my friends even think that this examiner purposefully want to fail me out of jealousy or something (I'm well-known in my field of study where I live, so the examiner must know who I am according to my friends and family). But I don't know if she purposefully wants to fail me, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to people most of the time. My supervisor also told me that she has a lot of empathy for the situation I am in (may lose Vanier and doctoral admission).

Either way, my supervisor thinks that there are very few chances that I fail again if I apply everything she mentioned in her comments (which I plan on doing). She told me that if that examiner fails me again, I can report it to the Dean. Also, the examiner took one extra month to correct my thesis when the deadline was within 4 weeks. That gives me one month less in terms of time to correct my thesis...

 

I see. Very interesting situation. Purposefully failing someone would be a big deal, but that certainly doesn't rule out pre-judgmental thoughts. Are you getting other eyes on your thesis? I ask because I would be hesitant to other rely on your advisors advice when she seemed to underestimate the evaluator the first time. Saying things like "very few chances [you] fail again" is kind of worrying (although I don't know that tone or context this was said in.

I definitely think taking an extra month to read and give results is a huge deal. That alone is sketchy. Usually these are pretty hard deadlines.

You can do it!!!

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