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!