I submitted my PhD thesis to my department last August for examination. However, I found out from my supervisor that my department only sent my thesis to examiners last November for examination. So it took them about 3 months to get my thesis to examiners. Before submitting my thesis, my supervisor already has elected examiners to examine my thesis and they all agreed to do so. Thus, there would be no problem in getting examiners to examine my thesis. And crazy thing is, when I confronted the staff who is supposed to handle my thesis examination, she nonchalantly said that she was so busy handling something else and she apologized for purposefully delaying my viva because her plate was full. I was beyond furious to learn how unprofessional she is when handling my thesis. Now I am thinking to lodge a report to the Dean of my school regarding how unprofessional my department was in handling my viva voce. But then, I'm scared that my department will have their vendetta against me when they found out that I made a report. Another option is to lodge a report to the Dean once I graduate from the PhD program but that seems like a cowardly move.

What should I do?

  • 6
    What part of the world is this taking place? In the USA I submitted my thesis directly to my committee, the members of which I had chosen. This setup you describe seems very different and you lack agency in the process.
    – DBB
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 11:39
  • 3
    Sadly in a developing country in Asia
    – alex
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 11:42
  • 6
    What is a viva? What do you expect to accomplish by reporting? Is your supervisor aware it did not go out until November? I would not call the delay purposeful. Too busy is negligent. Purposeful would be put it to the side to hurt you or some other intent.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 14:32
  • 1
    Yes, supervisor already read everything and approved the thesis prior to submission. Since examiner is anonymous to student, person in charge in my department is responsible to send the thesis to examiners. But she delayed the supposed submission to examiners because she was busy
    – alex
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 14:51
  • 4
    The title and the description do not match. Your description is clearly of incompetence, not purposeful delay. There was no purpose -- sending the thesis to reviewers just didn't happen. Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


Complaining about this won't speed up your defense or get your thesis to your committee any faster. It will just make you disliked within your department. Accept the loss of time, do your defense, get your degree, and start your next job. Unless there are specific rules against doing so, take the lesson that when getting your thesis to your committee and scheduling your defense date, no administrator will ever take the issue as seriously as you. So instead of delegating something you care a lot about to someone who doesn't care at all about this task, you could do these tasks yourself and get them done under a timescale you like.

  • 1
    In my school:1. Supervisor approved the thesis before being submitted. 2.I sent the thesis to person in charge in my department so she could send the thesis to respective examiners. Also in my school students cannot be made aware who their examiners are, hence the person in charge has the responsibility to get thesis sent to examiners.
    – alex
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 14:49
  • 3
    This assumes the OP is in the US, which they clearly are not.
    – Dawn
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 15:14
  • 2
    seems like under this system the students are being treated like babies and not being allowed to take responsibility. I bet this type of mismanagement happens often. Finishing PhD can be a very good time in your life because you should have time to relax and enjoy life. Try to slow down a bit and enjoy the moment because you will probably be overworked when you start your next job.
    – DBB
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 15:50
  • 3
    In some countries, such as Germany, the process is much more bureaucratic than in the US. It’s not that they’re treating the candidates as children; it’s just a very burdensome process.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 20:01
  • 1
    Still an active participant would be able to follow up on the stages of bureaucracy, "hello, was my thesis distributed to my examiners?" etc
    – DBB
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 12:22

I assume English is a second language for you.

Purposefully is not the correct word here.

in a way that shows determination or resolve

Purposely is what I think you mean

on purpose; intentionally

To me it does not sound like the delay was on purpose. It was negligent of the staff not to take the time to complete this fairly simple task. A three month delay is not reasonable and I can understand you are upset.

For sure the department as a whole did not do this on purpose.

I don't see how going to the Dean would help you. I don't see how that would speed up the process at this point.

If you do go to the Dean I suggest you not use words like on purpose or unprofessional. Communicate the problem and how it impacted you. It is fair to name the person responsible for the delay.

Maybe your supervisor could tell the examiners there was a delay and ask them review quickly.

  • 9
    I would vote for this answer without the first part included. Just start with "To me" without nitpicking the English. I think many native speakers would not know the difference between purposefully and intentionally
    – Dawn
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 15:13
  • @Dawn I did not include that to nitpick. Sorry you took it that way.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 15:16
  • 4
    If you think @Dawn's comment contained a helpful suggestion, you can always edit your answer to incorporate it. Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 15:29
  • There's no evidence of 'negligence' on the part of the front-line staff here; a far more likely explanation is that the thesis-handling team has a backlog of work due to being understaffed and/or under-resourced. Of course, that might indicate negligence on the part of the university's senior management, or of someone outside the university who controls the overall resourcing of universities in the relevant country. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 15:21

Yes, you should report this to the dean.

If you are afraid of retaliation, then you can wait until your degree is awarded.

It sounds like your real problem is that your department does not have enough staff to fulfill its obligations to students. It is (normally) the dean's responsibility to ensure adequate staffing, so it is very appropriate to tell the dean about it. Just state the facts, leaving out your feelings about how you were treated.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .