the question title above is deliberately provocative. I am in the UK. A few days ago I have explained my situation - many problems with a Department that was not able to support me adequately.

Generally, both my supervisor, co-supervisor (the co-supervisor has just become a lecturer, so he is probably just inexperienced) and head of department (who was the arbitrator during my viva, after I raised all my problems) have constantly avoided to discuss with me the reports from my examiners, just recommending (almost demanding) that I do follow those. They have constantly denied that I can appeal to a "revise and resubmit". However I have recently contacted the student service of the University, and there I was told that not only I can appeal for further opportunity to submit, but that I can also submit a complaint to dispute tuition fees liability.

Now, I can understand the latter option was avoided - nobody is happy with money, but why was the former option (appeal) completely denied rather than discussed? Do academics get some reputation issues if students submit an appeal against a "revise and resubmit"?

  • 12
    They probably didn't know the specifics of the policy - normally a thesis committee has full discretion over whether you pass. Note that going to battle against the people reviewing your thesis is probably a bad idea unless there is serious misconduct - I don't see much evidence of such serious misconduct in your previous question. Remember you don't just need to get your thesis approved by these folks, they are your most important references for your next job.
    – Bryan Krause
    May 24, 2018 at 19:09
  • That is so true May 24, 2018 at 20:28
  • 8
    I don't know about your question above. However, I would strongly advise against using your real name and having your advisor's name in your bio when you are basically accusing them for treating you badly, withholding information and being bad advisor. You might be perfectly right and able to prove everything, but this could backfire really bad.
    – electrique
    May 24, 2018 at 23:37
  • I have some additional questions: 1. Was your thesis handled on paper or electronically? 2. How many papers overall have you written in your career? 3. How much people were involved in the overall workflow? 4. How high are the tuition fees? May 25, 2018 at 6:39
  • 2
    Can you please edit your question to make it stand-alone?
    – Wrzlprmft
    May 25, 2018 at 8:38

3 Answers 3


I don't know your institution, but it's fairly likely that the right of appeal is limited to a subset of things like:

  • administrative irregularities and errors (e.g. you should have passed, but the examiners ticked the wrong box).
  • Immediate mitigating circumstances (e.g. your parent died the night before so you couldn't present a coherent defence of your thesis)
  • Inherent bias (e.g. you turned up in your favourite Everton shirt and know the the examiner failed you because he's a Liverpool fan)

The precise topics should be documented (properly, on paper) in regulations available from your registry (or however your individual institution labels that service).

In particular, it almost never covers academic decisions, or problems arising from previous poor supervision advice, which is typically meant to be dealt with far earlier in the process when it first arose.

  • Just to add a specific situation. I know someone in social sciences (also PhD student in the UK) who had a similar outcome "revise and resubmit". He appealed but the decision was the same. He waste a lot of energy appealing but there was no grounds. Similar to your situation (I guess), the examiners were not appropriate and didn't understand a part of his thesis, but that's not enough to change the outcome.
    – psoares
    May 25, 2018 at 7:43
  • Your list of bases for an appeal seems to match closely those that the OP's university's paperwork sets out. May 25, 2018 at 7:50

In addition to other great answers, a couple of notes:

  1. Academics are hired to support your learning. They have knowledge about the subject. Managers, secretaries and support staff are here to make sure rules are followed, paperwork is processed and students are supported in administrative matters. Academics do not necessarily know each and every aspect of the rules and they are not there to support your administrative relations with the University. In my University, academic staff involved in marking the viva should submit a written report and is explicitly forbidden to provide feedback or discuss the outcome with candidate directly.
  2. Academics follow the rules set for them by the University. They are hired by the University and they have the responsibilities to follow the rules set for them. If the University discourages them to discuss administrative matters with students (because it's not their role), they would not do it. Instead, they will refer a student to the proper process supported by other staff memebers.

I have read both of your questions. I will give a more general answer to both because I think your questions do not deserve an direct answer. What brothers me is how you interpret your problems with your supervisors as unwillingness and selfishness on their side and yet you are not able or willing to reinterpret what your thesis may contain in a constructive way - but rather in a pure sense of "removing what is right" way from your thesis. You define your relationship to your supervisor in terms of a complaint about communication and interpret not knowing as "hiding". You interpret somebody probably just trying to get a permanent job as "career focused".

If I may recommend you something: before making any decisions on how to proceed with the thesis, take another semester. Try to discuss your work with other scholars, potentially in other fields, but most importantly your own. Take in their feedback and look what you can improve in the thesis. Try to also reflect on your own behavior, potentially try coaching. And btw: inter-disciplinarity doesn't prevent to summarize in one sentence.

  • Thank you @Sascha for your opinion. This question was made exactly to understand what would be the consequences of my actions. It's stupid to make actions that could potentially damage other people without getting informed. "Career focused" because my supervisor is on research leave, and though I asked him 6 months before my submission if I still had to contact him for minor things (I didn't give that for granted and was willing to adapt to others' problems), and my supervisor probably did not have time to read my submission (nor to do some minor very-important things) for two reasons: May 25, 2018 at 10:41
  • 1) He is the easy-going type that says "I'll do that later", and later he does not do that; 2) He probably got too many musical works to do in a short period of time - particularly 1 major musical work that was commissioned after a project in which I was one of the 4 contributors, and helped him promoting that. To conclude, I agree with everything you say. I understand what's wrong in my thesis. The thing is that the thesis is not required anymore and should not be in the next submission. Had I received a "adjust things here and there, make it more focused", I would be happy. May 25, 2018 at 10:42

You must log in to answer this question.

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