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Adelaide9216

I failed my thesis.

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Posted (edited)

At first I didn't think I was going to jump into the fray, but I can feel @Adelaide9216's frustration and pain palpating through the screen. I know all of you are trying to be helpful and give her the harsh truth as you see it, but as someone who's been reading her posts for a year or so now, it feels a bit like you're crushing her soul. I know how much effort she's been putting into her work and how much all her hopes and dreams depend on passing the thesis. I gasped when she first posted about failing. I don't think she's trying to pass the buck and blame everyone else, she just poured out her soul at a time when she is feeling very vulnerable and stressed out, and I think it's kind of sad that people who have purportedly read her posts think this is an appropriate time to deliver the "harsh reality" in all its cold, unsympathetic harshness. @Chanandler made what may have been a valid point, but I can think of a few different ways it could have been stated more positively without hurting her to the extent that it did. Maybe I'm too soft and taking this too much to heart, but I like to think that if I reached out like this in a state of heartache, I would receive sympathetic support instead of a damn peer review.

Edited by bibliophile222
Damn apostrophe!

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Posted (edited)

Let’s also remember that it is hard to clearly read tone over text. Although I disagreed with Chanandler’s initial post, I don’t think there was malice behind it and they had a valid perspective. I do agree with Chanandler’s second, longer post, I will say. The very first post that wasn’t positive resulted in a “leave me alone”. I have been following Adelaide’s journey as well and I am crushed for her, but if you are posting on a public forum, expect criticism. And I agree that it is just the first in a long line of failures in academia. 

 

Telkanuru’s post pretty much summed it up well. 

Edited by TwirlingBlades

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14 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

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 didn't realize that you are the only master's student who is doing a thesis.  That makes it super hard because my guess is the program is not set up to successfully guide master's students through the independent research process.  It can be a tough road to go down especially if faculty have only worked with PhD students on independent research projects as they tend to need less guidance/assistance than a master's students would.

If worse comes to worst, can you think about switching to the non-thesis master's?  This will allow you to graduate and hopefully not disrupt your PhD plans.  I would still keep on working on the edits, but it is also good to have some back up plans just in case things don't go the way that you hope. 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, ZeChocMoose said:

I didn't realize that you are the only master's student who is doing a thesis.  That makes it super hard because my guess is the program is not set up to successfully guide master's students through the independent research process.  It can be a tough road to go down especially if faculty have only worked with PhD students on independent research projects as they tend to need less guidance/assistance than a master's students would.

If worse comes to worst, can you think about switching to the non-thesis master's?  This will allow you to graduate and hopefully not disrupt your PhD plans.  I would still keep on working on the edits, but it is also good to have some back up plans just in case things don't go the way that you hope. 

I echo the non-thesis option as a backup. My program had 4 different exit exams we could choose from (thesis, research experience (basically a research paper), practicum, and written comp exam). I understand that the scholarship and PhD acceptance might be hindered by not finishing your thesis, but absolutely worst case you want to finish this degree. 

Edited by TwirlingBlades

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Life is not all support and adulation. Moreover, we are all required to take a very thorough, non-nostalgic and blunt inventory on the things we think support us on our path. Sometimes, those items/activities become obsolete and no longer serve their original purpose.

That said, when folks congratulated and supported you in the past, it was accepted without reservation and there was no question as to how much they actually knew you, or whether they operated from a place of objectivity—it was merely happily accepted. My point being,  is that it is all of our responsibility, to be at times, economical on what we share on this site, and further, to exercise a modicum of reservation,  caution and editorial self-esteem, in receiving both good and negative responses; that is to say, no what matter where they are on the spectrum, they all should be taken with a grain of salt. 

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On 5/13/2019 at 1:03 AM, 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.

I'm not here to dogpile on the OP, but I have decided to log in for the first time in perhaps nearly seven and a half years to weigh in. This post has been unfairly received. I'm not sure that the criticism applies, but I think it's on point. There is a tenor throughout all OP's posts that her problems are not of her own invention, but that they are merely things that have happened to her, which were totally unforeseeable and against all expectation, indeed are even quite unfair. There is great deal of blame shifting I believe, and the complete rejection in her response to this post that any of it may possibly be true or apply here, indeed I felt when reading it that she wanted to characterize this as a kind of character assassination, an aggressive attempt to harass and badger the OP, when I see actually astute suggestions that no one else here is making, but that I think are balanced, and said with moderation, and need to have been said.

I would add to this has the OP considered that her advisor is frankly out of her depth? It sounds like there is a huge rift between what the advisor thinks is an acceptable level for a master's thesis and what the reviewer thinks is appropriate. As much is implied by the advisor's suggestion that the reviewer is being too demanding.

I actually find the story of the OP very fascinating and have spent some time reading through some of her threads going back over two years. I've sensed throughout a sense of doubt about her ability. This uncertainty has been present since very early on and I think what has happened is she gave herself false assurances, thinking that things would just "work out". A person can sell themselves short, by not believing in themselves, and this in turn breeds a sort of complacency which says, "I will write it and if it is accepted it is accepted and if it's not it's not." These self-imposed limitations are like painting a target on one's own back.

There are two kinds of people, I believe. People who things happen to and people who make things happen. OP is very strongly in the former category. This idea that people are passive agents, that life has treated unfairly or has handed rotten experiences must be set aside now and forever.

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Posted (edited)

Let me also point out, that as long as posters were willing to indulge the narrative of victimization and the unfairness of that experience, the OP was perfectly receptive. But as soon as someone made the mere suggestion that the reviewer might actually have a point, then it is, "You’re judgmental! You're putting words in my mouth! Leave me alone!"

22 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

PS I know how the publication system works. I had one article rejected recently.

This is becoming a pattern.

I'm not God and I don't have a crystal ball. But if you're genuinely unable to engage the reviewer and even entertain the notion that your thesis was seriously lacking, and aren't even able to take criticism in an online post, which I found quite respectful and appropriate, without lashing out in the manner demonstrated on page 2, save your time and energy and don't do a PhD because it is just going to get much worse from here.

Edited by Dromedary

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My final point is to say that this isn't the end. By taking careful concern and care for the reviewer's remarks, you will pass your thesis. But you should inquire into yourself as to whether you should go on to the PhD or enter the workforce and begin making the impact in caring for others that you can begin now, with a master's degree. You can have such an impact that you would be delaying for 4, 6, 8 or more years by doing the PhD and may avoid an even more difficult scenario in the future.

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1 hour ago, Dromedary said:

I actually find the story of the OP very fascinating and have spent some time reading through some of her threads going back over two years. I've sensed throughout a sense of doubt about her ability. This uncertainty has been present since very early on and I think what has happened is she gave herself false assurances, thinking that things would just "work out". A person can sell themselves short, by not believing in themselves, and this in turn breeds a sort of complacency which says, "I will write it and if it is accepted it is accepted and if it's not it's not." These self-imposed limitations are like painting a target on one's own back.

There are two kinds of people, I believe. People who things happen to and people who make things happen. OP is very strongly in the former category. This idea that people are passive agents, that life has treated unfairly or has handed rotten experiences must be set aside now and forever.

  •  

Yeeeeeah, that's too far on a lot a levels. Don't try to be a psychologist on the internet or try to explain to someone why they don't work as a person. It diminishes the rest of what you're saying. 

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

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.

 

 

The path on which you lash out at those who have helped you in good faith. The one in which you accuse your thesis evaluator of acting in bad faith because she's jealous of you.

The one on which you trot out charges of "paternalism," play the "misunderstood" victim, say that no one knows you (despite having over fifteen hundred posts on this BB).

The one on which you claim that you are focusing on your thesis yet posting about topics not related to your thesis.

That path.

Edited by Sigaba

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Posted (edited)

In response to some of the above posts, I agree that it's important to have adequate social support. However,  I hope to reemphasize a previous point given the continuing conversation. When you are publicly sharing a significant number of details about you, your work, and your specific situations to the point where another person could identify you, you are putting yourself at risk professionally. You're no longer talking to a bunch of strangers on the Internet. One of our current (or future) faculty or peers might be reading our posts, recognize us, and form an opinion of us that affects our relationships with them. That is why I will emphasize that a person does not need to agree with the feedback they receive to be appreciative (respectful, professional) of it.

I think this is what some other posters have been touching on as well. It is worth considering how we might feel if we look back on our own messages a year or two down the road. What impression did we make? Choosing the right outlet for support is important. Being vulnerable online is risky. But the only thing we can ever really control is how we react to the things that happen in our lives. Actions speak louder than words, and we will be judged by them.

I think the reason others have jumped onto the "dog pile" was because their message was outright rejected, which struck me (and others) as a concern for OP's success. I don't think I've seen anyone here wish the worst for her. I do think it crossed a line when someone stated she should not pursue a PhD, or that she won't be successful. Her tenacity is a quality that will serve her well if she continues on an academic path. But I think all of our remarks were made in effort to help her identify potential solutions to help her situation. None of us know the root of the problem, of course; we merely serve as guides to be taken "with a grain of salt," as someone else suggested. So feel free to ignore the advice, or acknowledge and then ignore it, or clarify a point relating to it. But when you show a blatant lack of appreciation, you can't expect further assistance from people who took time out of their days to offer insights.

I will also note that OP did not state that the failing mark was out of jealousy (her friends or family stated that), but to quote yet another poster, "what is the point" of discussing it beyond those friends and family? It is not a constructive use of one's time to discuss it with an advisor, even if you have that kind of relationship, and to further spend time writing about it online. Again, be choosy about the details you share and in what context you share them. I don't think many of us misunderstood OP's original explanation about these conversations, although we were accused of such. I just wanted to air that out briefly.

One last point to the OP - asking in other threads about how to publish a book and how to turn coursework papers into publishable articles, and then stating in this thread that you "know how the publication system works" are at odd with one another. I think it's awesome that you want to publish a book and have submitted manuscripts to journals, but the publication process can be highly political and the points I discussed above and previously are relevant to navigating that process. It can takes years to hone your skills, and although you are on that path, it is a bit naive to assume that you know how it works and can't benefit from another's insights and experience. 

Edited by Meraki

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7 minutes ago, Meraki said:

I will also note that OP did not state that the failing mark was out of jealousy (her friends or family stated that), but to quote yet another poster, "what is the point" of discussing it beyond those friends and family? It is not a constructive use of one's time to discuss it with an advisor, even if you have that kind of relationship, and to further spend time writing about it online. Again, be choosy about the details you share and in what context you share them. I don't think many of us misunderstood OP's original explanation about these conversations, although we were accused of such. I just wanted to air that out briefly. 

I want to emphasize this. Adelaide has said multiple times that she is not the one that said the comments re: jealousy. I agree, however, that they are not worth repeating, especially because OP has said that she doesn’t necessarily share those same views.

I do also think some of the reactions by OP are worrying. I hope these kind of defensive and borderline rude comments towards fellow academics are contained to the internet. (And I am saying this as someone who thinks some of the things written in this thread were phrased poorly by commenters). 

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As someone preparing to start a Masters in the fall this thread has left me feeling pretty disgusted. It makes me think that I should not expect any empathy or appropriate support from colleagues if I ever face a crisis.

When someone is in a state of crisis, barraging them with criticism and advice is actually incredibly unhelpful. It can put the person in more distress and make it even harder for them to think and problem solve the crisis. It's not suprising that it would produce an emotional response or 'lashing out'. Do we really think telling someone in crisis that based on reading their posts on a forum we can diagnose all of their character flaws and declare that they actually aren't cut out for their position is appropriate advice?? It may make you feel self-righteous but you're not actually giving someone the harsh reality, you're just being a jerk.

 

Just because someone vents their personal frustrations on a forum doesn't mean you're obligated to respond. You should all reflect on whether you are really the best person to respond when someone is in distress on this forum and you are unable to provide a nonjudgmental response.

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5 hours ago, _angua said:

As someone preparing to start a Masters in the fall this thread has left me feeling pretty disgusted. It makes me think that I should not expect any empathy or appropriate support from colleagues if I ever face a crisis.

This statement is controversial given the empathy that has been offered to the OP in this thread and many others and the many threads in which graduate students write of receiving empathy and support from their colleagues at their schools. (And many such posts include graduate students sharing experiences in which the correct display of empathy was a kick in the pants.)

There seems to be some confusion as to what constitutes a "nonjudgemental" response. Any comment that offers an evaluation is based upon the judgment of the person making the comment.

If a person shares experiences looking for praise or affirmation or support or actionable feedback,  is that person looking for a non-judgemental response? Or is that person seeking a favorable judgemental response?

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Posted (edited)
On 5/17/2019 at 6:06 AM, _angua said:

As someone preparing to start a Masters in the fall this thread has left me feeling pretty disgusted. It makes me think that I should not expect any empathy or appropriate support from colleagues if I ever face a crisis.

When someone is in a state of crisis, barraging them with criticism and advice is actually incredibly unhelpful. It can put the person in more distress and make it even harder for them to think and problem solve the crisis. It's not suprising that it would produce an emotional response or 'lashing out'. Do we really think telling someone in crisis that based on reading their posts on a forum we can diagnose all of their character flaws and declare that they actually aren't cut out for their position is appropriate advice?? It may make you feel self-righteous but you're not actually giving someone the harsh reality, you're just being a jerk.

 

Just because someone vents their personal frustrations on a forum doesn't mean you're obligated to respond. You should all reflect on whether you are really the best person to respond when someone is in distress on this forum and you are unable to provide a nonjudgmental response.

Not a single reply in this thread has been malicious or written in bad faith.

 

Perhaps you would be better suited to kindergarten as opposed to pursuing academia at postgrad level. That way you'll never have to encounter any opinions that make you feel uncomfortable or force you to reconsider your own position; you'll find the universally positive environment you seem to be looking for.

 

There, that was a bit mean - but it's the first time in 3 pages that anyone has been catty in the slightest.

Edited by Chanandler
adding

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11 hours ago, Chanandler said:

Perhaps you would be better suited to kindergarten as opposed to pursuing academia at postgrad level. That way you'll never have to encounter any opinions that make you feel uncomfortable or force you to reconsider your own position; you'll find the universally positive environment you seem to be looking for.

Unnecessary, even to prove the point. First warning. 

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2 hours ago, ResilientDreams said:

Oh no. I've been off GradCafe for a while. Is Adelaide gone??

I know, I'm kind of worried. She hasn't been on for days, which is unusual! Hopefully she's just decided to take a break from Grad Cafe, but I am a little worried about her mental state right now and I hope she's okay.

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I also hope Adelaide is okay and is getting support offline with revising her thesis.

And just to reiterate and maybe clarify my point for people who seem confused or think I am arguing for universal praise (though I think that's a pretty bad faith response to what I said), in general I think it's better to think about how we can respond in helpful ways based on what we actually know about how people experience crises or distress, rather than moralizing about how we think they ought to respond.

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Hello,

just wanted to give some news to those who were worried about me: I am okay. My mental state is good, despite the circumstances. I do a lot of self-care. I want to thank those of you who have shown empathy towards me and remembered that I am a human being (instead of being paternalistic and judgmental or tried to "Dr Phil'ed" me on the Internet in assuming that I should not do a Ph.D which is a big LOL to me).

My supervisor said that if the external examiner fails me again, we're going to appeal for sure. I feel better though because I know that I have a "recourse" or an option if something turns bad again.

The news came out that I got the scholarship. I have received multiple hundreds of messages of congratulations. Not all of those people know about my thesis failure, but I feel encouraged by these people who actually know me IRL and are confident in my ability to succeed. 

I also have a third professor who has accepted to read and comment the revised version of my thesis, before we send it off to evaluation again.

I feel less anxious than I did a month ago. I am going to do the best that I can, just like I have always done, and I know that in the event that something happens again, my whole department is ready to defend me in the case of an appeal (again, these are professors that have known me for years and are confident in my ability to succeed in academia).

I also want to mention that I won't be coming here as much as I used to, because this place is not healthy for me. If you want to keep in touch, just PM me.

 

 

 

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On 5/16/2019 at 7:06 PM, _angua said:

It makes me think that I should not expect any empathy or appropriate support from colleagues if I ever face a crisis.

I missed this a while back: you should absolutely not expect it. Academia - really, any professional arena - is very often a mediocre to shitty space. Never expect your colleagues to be a functional support network unless they have manifestly demonstrated otherwise.

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Posted (edited)

Just some news: I am resubmitting this week. Two of the three professors gave me their comments already, and they both said they would be highly surprised if I fail again. I hope the examiner will feel the same way!

I still have a few changes to make but nothing major in their opinion. 

Edited by Adelaide9216

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3 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

Just some news: I am resubmitting this week. Two of the three professors gave me their comments already, and they both said they would be highly surprised if I fail again. I hope the examiner will feel the same way!

I still have a few changes to make but nothing major in their opinion. 

Goodluck!

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