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Adelaide9216

I failed my thesis.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/10/2019 at 12:59 PM, Adelaide9216 said:

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. 

I know that your family and friends mean well but I am not sure how helpful those comments are really at the end of the day and if you feel like they are getting in the way of the changes that your examiner wants you to do - I would ignore them or ask them to stop.*  Right now, your most important job is to address the changes that you need to make based on her comments.  I would also include a memo with your revised thesis.  Your memo can list all the changes that you were asked to make with a description of those changes and the page numbers where they are located in your thesis.  I did that for my dissertation and my committee thought it was helpful.

 

*I had a really terrible comprehensive exam process in my PhD.  It was well recognized that it was unfair and not aligned with the guidelines for the process, but I still had to address the comments/changes for my comps committee.  I had a lot of well-meaning people telling me it was unfair and terrible which ended up me wasting time thinking about how terrible and unfair it was.  I eventually just asked them to stop because I needed to use all my energy on making the changes and moving forward and a repetitive discussion on how terrible/unfair the situation was did not help.

Edited by ZeChocMoose

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2 minutes ago, ZeChocMoose said:

I know that your family and friends mean well but I am not sure how helpful those comments are really at the end of the day and if you feel like they are getting in the way of the changes that your examiner wants you to do - I would ignore them or ask them to stop.*  Right now, your most important job is to address the changes that you need to make based on her comments.  I would also include a memo with your revised thesis.  Your memo can list all the changes that you were asked to make with a description of those changes and the page numbers where they are located in your thesis.  I did that for my dissertation and my committee thought it was helpful.

 

*I had a really terrible comprehensive exam process in my PhD.  It was well recognized that it was unfair and not aligned with the guidelines for the process, but I still had to address the comments/changes for my comps committee.  I had a lot of well-meaning people telling me it was unfair and terrible which ended up me wasting time thinking about how terrible and unfair it was.  I eventually just asked them to stop because I needed to use all my energy on making the changes and moving forward and a repetitive discussion on how terrible/unfair the situation was did not help.

I already have that type of memo. I am addressing the changes. That’s my plan, regardless of the examiners intentions.

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On 5/10/2019 at 9:59 AM, 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).

I'm a little confused as to why you would share those comments from your friends/family with your advisor. Sometimes friend and family who don't understand how things work will automatically just go with "oh, it must be unfair" because they like us a lot and they see how hard we work -- it doesn't make it true or helpful and tbh, I cannot honestly imagine telling a professor that my friends and family thought an examiner failed me because the examiner was jealous. It just seems unnecessary to pass that kind of information along and if it's getting in your head, I second the earlier advice to either ignore those types of comments from your (well-meaning but perhaps misguided) friends and family or politely ask them to stop. 

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Posted (edited)

My link with my advisor allows me to say those things. Maybe you have a different link with yours. My advisor also thinks it was unfair. That’s why. (And I don’t necessarily agree with what my family and friends think by the way for the reasons you’ve just mentioned, none of my friends and family are in grad school.)

 

PS: I am doing what I am supposed to do. I’m not spending my life thinking about how unfair I was possibly treated. My focus is on getting a pass in order to start my PhD and to not lose my Vanier scholarship. That’s it. 

Edited by Adelaide9216

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Posted (edited)

Have you considered the possibility that your fail is deserved?

Obviously we only know what you've told us and none of us have read your thesis, but you seem desperate to blame everyone except for yourself and cry about how unfairly you've been treated.  Perhaps your work wasn't good enough to pass. I'm saying this because you've shown no indication that you consider this a possibility. If it is the case that your work wasn't good enough then you're wasting time blaming other people - time that could be spent improving your work.

When professors fail a piece of work I'm sure they're used to having students throw it back at them and complain and say it's not fair. Do you really want to be one of those people, or do you want to pick yourself up and think about why your work wasn't good enough to pass? Then you can go back, fix it, and have a valuable learning and development experience. Self-reflection and accepting responsibility should be an important part of learning and growth.

Saying this to help. Most posts here have been incredibly supportive, I feel that it's important to bring this other point up. I'm not saying it's impossible that you were unfairly failed because that sort of thing does indeed happen. However, it's rare that I've spoken with a failed student who was able to admit it was their fault.

Edited by Chanandler

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Posted (edited)

Wow I never said anything like you’re mentioning whatsoever. Where have I mentioned that my work was perfect????

 

And PS you clearly don’t know me. You’re extremely judgemental. 

 

I am not spending my time blaming people, I AM working on my thesis and have been since day 1. 

 

Leave me alone. You don’t know the details of what happened and you do not know me.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Chanandler said:

Have you considered the possibility that your fail is deserved?

Obviously we only know what you've told us and none of us have read your thesis, but you seem desperate to blame everyone except for yourself and cry about how unfairly you've been treated.  Perhaps your work wasn't good enough to pass. I'm saying this because you've shown no indication that you consider this a possibility. If it is the case that your work wasn't good enough then you're wasting time blaming other people - time that could be spent improving your work.

When professors fail a piece of work I'm sure they're used to having students throw it back at them and complain and say it's not fair. Do you really want to be one of those people, or do you want to pick yourself up and think about why your work wasn't good enough to pass? Then you can go back, fix it, and have a valuable learning and development experience. Self-reflection and accepting responsibility should be an important part of learning and growth.

Saying this to help. Most posts here have been incredibly supportive, I feel that it's important to bring this other point up. I'm not saying it's impossible that you were unfairly failed because that sort of thing does indeed happen. However, it's rare that I've spoken with a failed student who was able to admit it was their fault.

This is incredibly harsh. Adelaide has said that her work was not perfect. The comments about being treated unfairly were coming from her family/friends. I can’t say whether the grader was overly harsh as claimed, but it seems that the bigger issue was an overconfident advisor. 

If you read some of Adelaide’s posts from the past year, it appears that she was given very little guidance on how to approach the data collection and synthesize the material. 

Adelaide has also said multiple times that she has been working on her thesis non-stop. 

Now, I do agree that the thesis was probably not very good (I don’t mean that as a reflection of Adelaide’s abilities or intelligence) because it does take a lot to fail a thesis outright. But again, it seems that the advisor was ill-prepared to guide Adelaide through this process. It is possible that multiple people are to blame AND that the work wasn’t up to par because of that. 

Edited by TwirlingBlades

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22 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

My link with my advisor allows me to say those things. Maybe you have a different link with yours. My advisor also thinks it was unfair. That’s why. (And I don’t necessarily agree with what my family and friends think by the way for the reasons you’ve just mentioned, none of my friends and family are in grad school.)

I would just never tell an advisor that my friends and family thought an examiner was failing me (a student) out of jealousy, especially if you don't even agree with it. It just sort of seems like what's the point? It seems unlikely that the examiner failed you on purpose because they are jealous (the fail may have been unfair, but it being due to being jealous of a student seems super unlikely), so why even bring that up at all to your advisor?

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comments.

1. People have different relationships with their advisor and even among their advisors. My first advisor during my undergrad was pretty distant, didn't really connect with him. My master's advisor basically treats his students like his children - so yeah we were close. I knew about his kids, sometimes even his relationship troubles, and he knows a lot about my life. My current PhD advisor is a bit more distant/professional but certainly takes my private life in mind. We have shared some personal info, but not to the same extent as my Master's advisor (obviously). Yeah I'd often shared personal opinions (including on faculty and those were also shared with me too for that matter) and things with the latter, but maybe not with the others. That's fine. So lets not start judging people's interaction with their advisors (or friends/family for that matter).

Plus I don't think adeleide said it was her opinion that the examiner was jealous? but others have suggested. 

2. It does indeed seem that the advisor, in this case, was overconfident. It's the 2nd person I've seen it happen to this year (although to my other friend her committee even told her to take out things her advisor suggested to put in....). And yeah, that's unfair, but well. It happens more often than you think. 

3. Academia is just unfair. I mean, I'm not a huge fan of the peer review process (wish it was double blind for that matter), theres a lot of luck (and bad luck) involved, etc. 

I don't think anyone here is in self-pity, but I think its healthy to express one's frustration?

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2 hours ago, Psygeek said:

I think its healthy to express one's frustration?

I also think it is, but it's a dangerous thing to do on a public forum, particularly if there isn't a clear line between asking for help and simply venting.

For what it's worth, I read @Chanandler's post as being made in good faith as a call to self-evaluation. It's hard to phrase that in a way that doesn't come across as extremely harsh. For example, when @Sigaba tried to offer effectively the same critique, their advice was accepted, but it was not clear to me that their message was fully received. Chanandler's message, by contrast, was indeed fully received but not accepted. Neither managed to thread the needle.

@Adelaide9216, you're totally correct that any criticism here is coming from a place of relative ignorance. But by posting here, you are explicitly inviting criticism from relative strangers. I know you know this because I have myself reminded you in the past that we on this forum are not as helpful as sources of advice and guidance when compared to those who know you directly, and you told me that you understood, but valued the outside perspective. That's what you were offered here, although on terms that would be hard for anyone to swallow, and it seems unfair to now use the fact that the perspective you have been offered is from the outside to dismiss it.

As academics, it's incumbent upon us to remember that all readings of things we've written made in good faith are valid readings. That is, if someone reads you as arguing, saying, or doing something other than you think you've argued, said, or done, their interpretation is as valid - and possibly more valid - than yours as to what you've actually done. An adviser's description of your paper, for example, is almost certainly closer to what you're arguing than what you think you've argued. Any time you spot a disconnect between your and another's interpretation of your work, that should be a clear and evident warning sign that you haven't done what you intended. 

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Posted (edited)

I always give people the benefit of the doubt. Again you are putting words into my mouth. The bad intentions regarding the external examiner are not coming from me and were never my first thought, I still assume the good faith of the examiner.

 

Look, the reason why I looked for support here is that I am the only student in my masters program who took a thesis option. I am looking for support wherever I can find it because I don’t have access to a peer support network at school and none of my friends or family are in academia.

I do admit that I regret talking about my situation here. There are a lot of words put in my mouth. Plus, There are a lot of details that you people don’t have about what happened and even if you did, there are still people who would misinterpret my intent or feelings regarding what happened.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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2 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

I also think it is, but it's a dangerous thing to do on a public forum, particularly if there isn't a clear line between asking for help and simply venting.

For what it's worth, I read @Chanandler's post as being made in good faith as a call to self-evaluation. It's hard to phrase that in a way that doesn't come across as extremely harsh. For example, when @Sigaba tried to offer effectively the same critique, their advice was accepted, but it was not clear to me that their message was fully received. Chanandler's message, by contrast, was indeed fully received but not accepted. Neither managed to thread the needle.

@Adelaide9216, you're totally correct that any criticism here is coming from a place of relative ignorance. But by posting here, you are explicitly inviting criticism from relative strangers. I know you know this because I have myself reminded you in the past that we on this forum are not as helpful as sources of advice and guidance when compared to those who know you directly, and you told me that you understood, but valued the outside perspective. That's what you were offered here, although on terms that would be hard for anyone to swallow, and it seems unfair to now use the fact that the perspective you have been offered is from the outside to dismiss it.

As academics, it's incumbent upon us to remember that all readings of things we've written made in good faith are valid readings. That is, if someone reads you as arguing, saying, or doing something other than you think you've argued, said, or done, their interpretation is as valid - and possibly more valid - than yours as to what you've actually done. An adviser's description of your paper, for example, is almost certainly closer to what you're arguing than what you think you've argued. Any time you spot a disconnect between your and another's interpretation of your work, that should be a clear and evident warning sign that you haven't done what you intended. 

I completely agree with these posts. When you post as much detail as you have, you are not only inviting many varied opinions on your situation, but you are putting yourself out there to be easily identifiable by potential colleagues and you have to consider how you are being perceived. I don't think any of these types of responses were rude, but were stated as kindly as can be expected with the intention of helping you.

No one here, including you, knows what the reviewer's true reason was for failing your thesis. But from what you shared, she was professional about it and you seem to have a clear idea of what you need to do to improve your work. Not all reviewers are this professional. If you submit your work for publication, it is (unfortunately) not uncommon to receive harsh and unhelpful -even unprofessional - comments from reviewers at even top quality journals. I would take this as an experience to help you prepare for the difficult publication process in the future.

There is nothing wrong with needing to vent, but you need to choose appropriate outlets for certain content and be aware of what you're putting out into the public. Say what you want with friends, and if you have that sort of relationship with your advisor, great. But you can't expect everyone on the Internet to respond in kind. Saying, "she must be jealous; she wasn't fair; I'm so sorry for you" might make you feel good in the short term, but in the long term, it is completely unhelpful even if it is true. Suggesting that you take her words as constructive criticism to improve your work, because maybe it isn't meeting standards, helps you to build a professional attitude toward this kind of experience that you WILL continue to experience on the PhD journey and beyond. Even highly-published experts in your field deal with these types of situations with reviewers on a regular basis.

That all being said, my impression from your posts is that you're checking off boxes to please the reviewer without really seeing how these points are making you a better writer, researcher, etc. Faculty have their own quirks and preferences, but some of these points may be things you'll need to keep in mind for future papers. I completely understand the pressure you are under, and how hard it is to separate your feelings so you can see it all clearly, but taking a few days away to attend a conference might be exactly what you need. The closer you get to your work, the harder it is to see it clearly. And peer-reviewed work is always going to require this process; you work for months on a paper, submit it to a journal, and if you're lucky you get a revise & resubmit; and then another revise & resubmit, and just maybe, a conditional acceptance after many rounds of editing and catering to reviewer concerns. And the paper usually turns out much, much better than what the authors initially thought was good. 

That all being said, you do not need to agree with feedback to be respectful of it. People are spending their time reading your posts and responding. If you do not appreciate this, and demonstrate such a sentiment in your responses, then you will receiver fewer, and perhaps less helpful, responses in the future. 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 minute ago, Meraki said:

I completely agree with these posts. When you post as much detail as you have, you are not only inviting many varied opinions on your situation, but you are putting yourself out there to be easily identifiable by potential colleagues and you have to consider how you are being perceived. I don't think any of these types of responses were rude, but were stated as kindly as can be expected with the intention of helping you.

No one here, including you, knows what the reviewer's true reason was for failing your thesis. But from what you shared, she was professional about it and you seem to have a clear idea of what you need to do to improve your work. Not all reviewers are this professional. If you submit your work for publication, it is (unfortunately) not uncommon to receive harsh and unhelpful -even unprofessional - comments from reviewers at even top quality journals. I would take this as an experience to help you prepare for the difficult publication process in the future.

There is nothing wrong with needing to vent, but you need to choose appropriate outlets for certain content and be aware of what you're putting out into the public. Say what you want with friends, and if you have that sort of relationship with your advisor, great. But you can't expect everyone on the Internet to respond in kind. Saying, "she must be jealous; she wasn't fair; I'm so sorry for you" might make you feel good in the short term, but in the long term, it is completely unhelpful even if it is true. Suggesting that you take her words as constructive criticism to improve your work, because maybe it isn't meeting standards, helps you to build a professional attitude toward this kind of experience that you WILL continue to experience on the PhD journey and beyond. Even highly-published experts in your field deal with these types of situations with reviewers on a regular basis.

That all being said, my impression from your posts is that you're checking off boxes to please the reviewer without really seeing how these points are making you a better writer, researcher, etc. Faculty have their own quirks and preferences, but some of these points may be things you'll need to keep in mind for future papers. I completely understand the pressure you are under, and how hard it is to separate your feelings so you can see it all clearly, but taking a few days away to attend a conference might be exactly what you need. The closer you get to your work, the harder it is to see it clearly. And peer-reviewed work is always going to require this process; you work for months on a paper, submit it to a journal, and if you're lucky you get a revise & resubmit; and then another revise & resubmit, and just maybe, a conditional acceptance after many rounds of editing and catering to reviewer concerns. And the paper usually turns out much, much better than what the authors initially thought was good. 

That all being said, you do not need to agree with feedback to be respectful of it. People are spending their time reading your posts and responding. If you do not appreciate this, and demonstrate such a sentiment in your responses, then you will receiver fewer, and perhaps less helpful, responses in the future. 

 

This is totally not true. I want to strive to be a better academic and researcher and I take criticism well 99% of the time. You truly do not know me. 

 

PS I know how the publication system works. I had one article rejected recently. I did not fret about it and worked happily on doing revisions.

Edited by Adelaide9216

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I will also state that some of us have been where you are (you are not facing a unique situation), and are passing on feedback based not only on what helped us, but what students ahead of us passed on to us. This is the "social support" that I receive as a PhD student from my peers. Hopefully you will be so lucky as to receive similar when you move past all this and onto your PhD studies. 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Adelaide9216 said:

I just want to delete my account at this point. I’m so tired of having everything I say being misunderstood or misinterpreted. 

It would probably be better for you. You won't be distracted by the activity here.

I should delete a bunch of stuff for the same reasons.

Edited by Psyche007
Reasons.

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Yes but you don’t know me. You guys are putting stuff into my mouth that I have never said or even thought. You’re also misinterpreting my desire to succeed in academia.

Whos the admin of this forum? I don’t want to keep on posting here. I’m tired of having to explain who I am.

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Just now, Adelaide9216 said:

Yes but you don’t know me. You guys are putting stuff into my mouth that I have never said or even thought. You’re also misinterpreting my desire to succeed in academia.

Whos the admin of this forum? I don’t want to keep on posting here. I’m tired of having to explain who I am.

You did invite this by posting on a public forum. 

Whatever you decide, I hope you succeed, pass your thesis, and go on to you PhD.

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@TGCA is the administrator you need to contact for an account deletion. However, be aware that deleting an account will not delete your posts.

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@Adelaide9216 I think that this a good time for you to focus on your mission to revise your thesis so that it will satisfy the reviewer's requirements for a passing mark.

I would recommend avoiding the path you've been drifting towards the last week or so.

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Posted (edited)

Judging by your reaction to my input, which was meant to be helpful, and your following behaviour I would say you are probably not suited or accustomed to self-reflection or receiving criticism. It's becoming more clear that you can't handle these things and I feel sorry for other academics who are put in the position of having to critique your work because I don't think you're the type of person who can handle it very well.

 

I hope you can sort through your issue but you aren't going to get very far when you have such emotional reactions and constantly blame others for everything that happens which you don't like. This involves receiving disappoints grades and blaming everyone except yourself as well as posting on a public forum then blaming everyone else for "misunderstanding" or "putting words" in your mouth (if so many people are 'misunderstanding' you, who is at fault then?) as soon as someone tells you something you don't want to hear. I think it's telling that for the first half of this thread, when everyone was telling you what you wanted to hear, you were happy to be around. Now that someone has said something you don't like, you just want to delete your account and run away.

 

I prefaced my reply with admitting I don't know you or your thesis, and simply asked if you had considered the possibility that your fail was deserved. Even now I have no idea, and it could very well be that your thesis was treated too harshly, but your behaviour in reaction to that also indicates there's a problem with you which you may want to address so that you can become a better version of yourself. I could be totally wrong, but the way you reacted so extremely to what I said only further reinforces the idea that you are very resistant to the idea of admitting any fault.

 

If you can't handle a stranger on an online forum posting constructive criticism then I don't think you're going to enjoy academia very much because that involves being able to take stock of your faults with a critical mind and accept input from others, in a way which is sometimes much harsher and more cutting than anyone here has done.

 

I hope you find a decent and healthy way forward that works for you and your thesis problem is resolved.

Edited by Chanandler

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Sigaba said:

@Adelaide9216 I think that this a good time for you to focus on your mission to revise your thesis so that it will satisfy the reviewer's requirements for a passing mark.

I would recommend avoiding the path you've been drifting towards the last week or so.

I AM focusing on my thesis. How many times am I going to say this for God’s sake? I am doing what I am supposed to do and have been since day 1.

and Which path are you talking about?? This sounds very paternalistic.

 

 

Edited by Adelaide9216

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