Finally! Submitted Probation Report

Posted on May 25, 2018 in Blog


It's been quite a hectic time for me, juggling writing and conferences. Looking at my past posts it seems I am maintaining a nice 3 month interval for my posts.

Anyways, as I am approaching the end of 10th month into my PhD. On reflecting back, it's been pretty eventful and rewarding. Just submitted my probation report to the examiners yesterday. My probation viva would be in 10 days time from now. I have really learnt a lot during the writing phase. I have been able to articulate my thought process and put all the messy bits that's been going around my mind into writing. Most importantly, I have idenfitied numerous weaknesses in my writing that I would need to improve on. Especially, as my lead supervisor has pointed out, my arguments in terms of evidence and claim is not well articulated enough. There are missing links and gaps. So, I would need to emphasise on this part of my writing.

Actually, I have received this kind of feedback before, that my speech or writing seems like disjointed pieces of lego bricks. Things are not well connected or the story line doesn't flow nicely. Need to work on this. Some pointers on how to improve this aspect would be nice.

Oh! I just realised that I haven't really explained the probation thing properly. Well, like any other job, PhD students in the UK need to go through a probation phase. To assess their eligibility to undertake doctoral research. In some universities it is known as transfer or upgrade as well. In principle, it is somewhat similar to PhD qualifications exam in the US. So in the Open University, probation is enforced quite strictly. One of the reasons behind it is that a good chunk of OU's student population is part-time students and to ensure that they are on track with their work, probation is an important hurdle in the PhD journey. Probation involves submitting a report demonstrating a sufficient grasp of the literature, good set of research questions, methodology to investigate the research questions and some form initial pilot study, and along with the report, there would be a viva with two independent examiners.

It's time to get back to preparation for the viva and hopefully next time around I should write a post on lessons learnt till now on my PhD journey.