5 top tips for PhD viva preparation by Dr Nathalie Sheridan*
1. Prepare in a modular way not question by question
a. This means: look at possible issues, weaknesses and establish their impact throughout your research (dissertation)
b. This way you remain flexible in your answers and don’t become stuck in a certain way of thinking
2. Take the key points from your work and seek out possible issues (more…)
An account of my viva by Vivienne Dunstan*
My viva was on Wednesday 31st March 2010 at 2pm. It was a heavy snowy day in Scotland, and I wondered if my examiners would get there ok, especially the external from Edinburgh. She made it fine. The internal struggled to reach Dundee from south Fife. but both got there ok.
My husband took me to the university for about 1pm. We went to College Hall (area for research students in my faculty) where I had a soothing hot chocolate, then we went down to the Tower basement to wait for nearer 2pm. I wheeled out just as the convenor and examiners were coming down the corridor, so we all headed along together. They had to unlock the archives seminar room, then de-clutter it so I could wheel in with my manual wheelchair. I was fairly optimistic at this time because they all seemed remarkably smiley and positive. (more…)
Today, Dr Sarah-Louise Quinnell, a social scientist, shares her PhD Viva Experience in her own words:
“The Viva is perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome purely because you are in the lap of the gods, or in this case the examiners, so much depends on your performance during the Viva. Many PhD students will be able to recount more nightmare Viva stories than they will good ones. I don’t know whether this is because people who have plain and simple non eventful Viva’s don’t talk about them or if it is just because the horror stories are so bad they stick in the mind, and I think get exaggerated over the years. So in this post I am going to talk about my experience and give some tips on how to prepare:
I submitted my thesis on 24th August 2010 and my Viva exam was held on November 16th. It was a very grey Tuesday, I think it rained and it was quite chilly. My exam was to start at 1.30 after my examiners had been taken to lunch by my supervisor, they went to the Thai square on The Strand if you wanted to know, however, they didn’t get back till after 1.30 leaving me sweating waiting in the Department. (more…)
Today Dr Michelle Lawrence a chartered institute of marketing tutor gives us her Top 5 tips for a PhD student who is preparing for a PhD viva.
1. Remember you are the expert in that tiny area of research and the examiners want you to own your thesis
2. Don’t get defensive over points of difference, particularly the approach you adopted, calmly marshal your arguments as to why you did it that way.
3. It’s OK to pause, think about things and take time over answering. The silence sounds deafening to you because you’re nervous but use it to calm yourself.
4. You may have cited the examiners’ work in your research, acknowledge the usefulness but don’t suck up, engage as a peer.
5. Now it not the time for self deprecation, a strangely English characteristic!