Ph.D. Madness: One Step Closer

After long weeks of studying, I had my cross-examination Ph.D. exam (Rigorosum) this morning.

Two professors listening to me with their undivided attention for 90 minutes! You need to work your way through six years of Ph.D. programming to be granted such luxury (and even then at least one of them will tell you to hurry because they want to get out early for lunch).

The minimum time for the exam is 90 minutes, the maximum time is 120. Cue Professor #1: “Can’t we just cut it down to an hour? I have a lunch date.” Professor #2: “Hm, we don’t have to write down the exact hour on the protocol…”

In the end, though, my answers were apparently interesting enough to keep them inside the room for the required 90 minutes. Which means nobody did cheat, the protocol is correct, and nobody can take my title away again (when I finally get it next year or so… depending on the printing costs and the caveats to the print version).

Taking titles away that were garnered by cheating (=profane copy-pasting) is a new German hobby: we’ve had two cheating politicians and one lawyer since March who due to public examination of their Ph.D. theses were relieved of their titles (the last case is still pending, but should have the same outcome), all public figures. None of them, btw, is (was) working in academia, but in politics or economy.

A group of volunteers who check written dissertations for copied passages in public Wikis (here and here) is responsible for the discovery of all three cheating cases; a fourth case is being analyzed at the moment. They do great work, even though it is incredibly sad and embarrassing that there are such cases to uncover in the first place.

Either way, my Rigorosum went well AND followed protocol. After 90 minutes, they sent me out of the room only to call me back in two minutes later, telling me that they didn’t have much to discuss: summa cum laude.


That’s the best grade possible and since the expertises for my Ph.D. are already in (I haven’t seen them yet, but the dean’s office has told my supervisor the grades, who in turn has told them to me),  I know that I also have the maximum grade for the written part.

A perfect starting position for a long career in academia… if there were any open positions, that is, and if those hypothetical positions wouldn’t be given away following the “Vitamine B” complex but following abilities. Ah well. You can’t have everything at once, right?

For now, I’m just very tired (the adrenaline has run out) and very relieved. While the big official shenanigan in form of the defense will take place in June – thanks to your butterfly nets, shark sensors and mousetraps I have managed to lure two extras together under the pretense of a scrumptious after-hours buffet – there will be no grades involved in the defense, it’s just approved or not approved. And I hope I’ll manage the former!

The difficult parts are over (apart from the financing of the print version, which is the issue I have to figure out this summer – hello, print scholarships!), now it’s time to relax a bit already. The defense is more of a formal act after which I will be allowed to be called “Dr.”, but I mustn’t use the title myself yet, until I have found a publisher, printed the thing, paid the printer and dragged ten copies of the opus to the dean’s office.

Only in exchange for that, I’ll get my Ph.D. diploma. One fine day…

…but the grades are in today!

33 thoughts on “Ph.D. Madness: One Step Closer”

  1. Freund, euer Traumbild wies euch wahr:
    Gelungen ist auch der zweite Bar.
    Huldreichster Tag! Parnass und Paradies!
    Dein Sang erwarb dir Meisterpreis!


    1. *only recognises that text because I’m doing an essay on nationalism in music right now…* wish I could actually see this – the library ordered a copy in 2007. It still to arrive…


    2. 😀

      I think I’ll preface my defense with this one:

      “Seid Ihr bereit, ob Euch geriet
      mit neuer Find’ ein Meisterlied,
      nach Dicht’ und Weis’ Eu’r eigen,
      zur Stunde jetzt zu zeigen?”


      1. Many thanks to fitzfulke for the kind offer of a copy of Die Meistersinger, the library eventually finalised its purchase of the dvd, I finally got to watch it and the essay was finally completed and submitted today. YAAYYY. Not quite like submitting a doctoral thesis, but feels great anyway. Only the practical exam to go next week, and I’m halfway through my degree…


  2. woo hoo, congrat congrat Anik!! now the white shirt team will be on a look out for professorship positions in nice cities like Munich for example 😀 . hope u catch a great meal and loads of sleep after mad celebration!


    1. for a professorship, I first need to write my habil (another 5-7 years of research and writing another thesis)… but yes, that would be the final goal. Alert me if anything pops up! (White Shirt guest couch in any city will be included)


    1. uh, I think she finished that champagne with Joanna under circumstances not fit for a G-rated blog 😀

      (and to imagine that when I started writing “Campus”, I had no plans to ever try for a Ph.D. myself!)


  3. anik, so so excited for you. i’d say proud as well, but perhaps that privilege lies more appropriately with others. either way, congrats!!! i think i have some leftover aperol around here, i’ll whisk some sort of cocktail together for a toast. prost!


  4. Awesome news, Dr. Anik! Congratulations!!! Well done and well earned indeed, matie. 😀 Too bad we don’t live close enough or I’d buy you a huge dinner. Maybe will have that chance one day. 😉


  5. @ hi Anik !!!!

    @ hi everybody !!!

    Obaaaaa!!! This is super wonderful !!!

    I’m very, extremelly glad for you!!
    You and only you know the price payed to reach your target. Only you know exactly how much effort and dedication to make it happen.

    Conception, growth, birth.

    It’s like a pregnancy, isn’t it ? But takes much more than nine months 😉

    Congratulations. I wish it represents a new phase in your life & career.

    You experienced the “BT” ( Before Thesys ) life.

    I wish you all the best in your “AT” (After Thesys) life, that it definitely opens all doors for you.

    A caipirinha toast for you. Hugs, too.



  6. Dr. A, WOW!! summa cum laude! summa cum laude! summa cum laude! That is a totally impressive accomplishment!! And the committee reached this conclusion right away so you really knocked them over! You have mastered the academic maze! I am sending you a cyber champagne toast!


  7. ANIK, YOU ROCK GIRL!!!! CONGRATS! I’m very happy for you, and as I said to you a while ago, I’ll toss to this accomplishment with a fine cava that I’ve been saving for the occasion!

    Un fuertisimo abrazo Doc! 🙂


    1. el título no tengo hasta el año que viene, probablemente – depends on the editing printing process.

      But some cava sounds always good, cheers!


      1. Anik,

        Forget about the formal defense, the editing and the printing… You completed your Rigorosum with Summa Cum Laude!, the rest is all meaningless pro forma stuff.

        I’ll tell you our trick in grad school: After managing a successful “data meeting” with our dissertation committee (which meant that we have convinced our judges that we had an academically-sound story to tell the world!.. jajaja), we used to turn down our lab’s experimental set-ups (just in case any of our committee members might think on coming back with another experimental request… 🙂 ) For all practical purposes, we declared ourselves “PhD’s”, and the rest of the paperwork and other errands were almost as if they were part of what we needed to move out of town and on with our lives… 🙂

        To me, this is the biggy!… (However, I could open another cava at the end of all the mumble jumbo… jajaja!)

        Cheers to you! 🙂


  8. Mere congrats might not meet the exact state in which one is after such a worldcrashing exhilerating finale to years of hard work. Perhaps a “Krasse Kacke!” with a bonecrashing handshake and a mad grin will do 🙂 ? Congrats Anik!

    All the best for printing. Pain in the ass, but at least makes us googlable 😉


    1. Danke, danke.
      Naja, Vertedigung kommt noch, das wird dann das Finale, aber wenigstens sind die Noten durch.

      Und dann mal sehen ab wann man mich für was anderes als fiction googeln kann!


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