Turns out, the PhD examination process is a lot like pregnancy/birth.*
Why? Two reasons. Firstly, because you hear a lot of horror stories – indeed, everyone has one, if not their own, then their supervisor’s, or their student’s, or their friend’s, or their colleague’s. Secondly, because you never hear the good stories – you know, where it all goes pretty much as expected, the examination is on time, even handed and insightful. The reports are consistent. The changes are straightforward to make. Much like during pregnancy, people will tell stories about their cousin’s friend’s sister spend 72 hours in labour and it was surprise twins who both came out sideways. You don’t hear about when it all goes fine.
I don’t want to hear stories about those examiners who disagreed so vehemently the whole process stalled for months. I don’t want to hear about how the examiners found a massive problem that the student and their supervisor’s had (unbelievably, in hindsight) missed. I don’t want to hear about that person who will have months and months of work ahead of them. I certainly don’t want to hear about that person who was bumped to a Masters, or failed outright. Do. Not. Want.
I just want to hear warm, fluffy tales about encouraging examiners, efficient Chairs, engaged, detailed and consistent reports, swift and doable corrections. Please. Tell me about those.
Or, better yet, let’s not talk about it at all.
*Not that I’ve ever been pregnant, but I’ve had this discussion with a few friends who’ve had kids. They heard a lot of horror stories, not a lot of ‘I had a comfortable pregnancy followed by a reasonably quick and complication free labour, and a swift and total recovery’ stories.