For over a year I have been developing my thesis and there have been many issues in the process as neither me or my supervisor are experts in the field I am working in. My supervisor has been aware of my model and has, routinely, told me that they think my model is okay. So, I carried on under that assumption.

It is one and a half months away from when I was supposed to defend and I was told that I need to make a big change in my model because the results are too 'intuitive'. So I am feeling like I have to scramble to try and adjust the model so that I can give better looking results.

I am not sure what to do. I have no results I can write about and I am a month and a half away from trying to graduate, and over the 2 year expectation, and at this pace, it seems like a possibility that could continue into the new year and approach the 2.5 year mark. I'm not sure whether I should try to just defend the results that I had originally, even knowing that they are intuitive, or keep trying to find a way to change how my results come out to be less intuitive.

My supervisor told me that if I don't change my model, I run the risk of getting 'major revisions' and in my defense, if surely probed about the problem, I can't respond with 'well, my supervisor and I agreed this formulation was okay, and then one month ago she asked me to change it, but I did not feel I was able to make the desired changes'.

So I am feeling like I am in a very difficult position and I am wondering if it is common for people to defend their work knowing that they might get sent back for major revisions, and how to deal with those revisions when you are not feeling supported? It's unfortunate, because had I been told that my supervisor disagreed with the model several months ago, I could spend the mental energy to make these changes, but now I just feel like i'm scrambling to put something out i'm not proud of.


1 Answer 1


I doubt it is so common this late. But certainly it is common enough for setbacks to occur at any time. You learn as you go. Sometimes the lessons aren't happy ones. Research is fundamentally dealing with the unknown and it is difficult to schedule. It is impossible to schedule successful completion, actually.

I suggest that you have some options. Perhaps more than I can think of. But, for example:

You could take your chances and leave it as it is. Your advisor might not be happy and the committee might send you back to work.

You could give it (model updates) your best shot and hope for the best. This makes your advisor happy. Maybe it results in success and maybe in some fallback plan, but you can't know that now.

You could, perhaps, just reschedule your defense for a future date to give yourself time to get to a better result. For a doctoral thesis this would be the necessary option in most cases, I think. Perhaps less viable for a masters.

My own sense is that it is important to keep the advisor happy as they are an important part of your future success.

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