Episode 36: Dr Anna McFarlane

In this episode I talk to Dr Anna McFarlane, who recently completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of St Andrews. Anna’s thesis is on one of my favourite authors, William Gibson, and so it was great to have this opportunity to interview her about her research, and of course, her viva. Anna is the co-editor of Vector: The British Science Fiction Association’s Critical Journal, and you can find her on Twitter as @mariettarosetta.

If you’ve got any questions or comments about this episode, then comment on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors – or email me! And please get in touch if you’d like to appear on a future episode – either to talk about your viva, or if you have the experience, to talk about Academic Jobs or being an Examiner.

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 35: Dr Eljee Javier

In Episode 35 I talk to Dr Eljee Javier, who recently completed her PhD at the University of Manchester. Eljee’s research explored the experiences of visible ethnic minorities who were native English speakers and teaching English to non-native speakers. It was fascinating to hear about how she did her research, and to then hear about her viva preparations and her experience on the day.

Eljee’s blog is great, and she’s recently posted both on her preparations and on the big day as well. She has blogged a lot about her PhD journey, and you can find her on Twitter as @eljeejavier.

Let me know what you think of this episode, leave comments on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me – particularly if you want to appear in an episode of the podcast this year. And if you’re viewing this on a computer, look to the right and subscribe to get notifications when new episodes go live!

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 34: Dr Grant Aitken

In Episode 34 I talk to Dr Grant Aitken, who had his viva in December 2014 at the University of Southampton; Grant’s research explored the social epidemiology of chronic kidney disease in England, and we chatted about how he did his research, what the outcomes were and what happened in his viva. Grant (who is on Twitter here) is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Southampton.

Let me know what you think of this episode, leave comments on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me – particularly if you want to appear in an episode of the podcast this year.

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 33: Dr Helen Kara

In the first episode of 2015, I’m very happy to be interviewing Dr Helen Kara, who is an independent researcher and director of We Research It Ltd. Helen completed her PhD on the emotion work of managers of Sure Start Children’s Centre, and it was great to talk to her about this – and of course her viva – but also her experience of starting a PhD following several years of being a researcher.

Helen has written a book on research methods, as well as several short guides on aspects of doing research. You can find her Amazon author page here. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions on this post, or you can get in touch by tweeting @VivaSurvivors or emailing me! I’m looking for more interviewees to share their PhD and viva stories this year, as well as people happy to talk about academic life or being an examiner. Please get in touch!

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Hello! It’s just over a month since I tweeted and shared things through Viva Survivors. Christmas and New Year was lovely for us, and I hope the same was true for you, however you celebrated the season.

Looking Back

2014 was an interesting and good year for the podcast: despite a long break from producing new episodes, the end of the year finished with two episodes each month, and the podcast had growing numbers of visitors and downloads – the Ask an Examiner special was so popular that it was the 8th most downloaded episode of the year despite only being shared in early December. Already it is the most downloaded episode this year – so I’ll do my best to organise more interviews with examiners throughout 2015.

I experimented with Patreon as a possible way to support the growth of the podcast, but with changes to UK VAT laws for digital products I’ve decided to suspend this until there is more clarity on what this would mean for me as a freelancer. Thanks to everyone who tweeted and shared this.

Looking Ahead

I’m trying to be more prepared for producing episodes this year, and aim to continue creating a minimum of two episodes per month. There are two episodes already lined up for January:

  • January 19th 2015 – Episode 33: Dr Helen Kara
  • January 26th 2015 – Episode 34: Dr Grant Aitken

I have a proposed schedule for the rest of the year, right the way through to December; this would have a minimum of two episodes per month, and I have ideas for month-long events later in the year. Watch this space for details! Of course, in order to produce these I need your help, so please get in touch if you want to share your story or join me one of the specials.

My Books

Fail Your Viva is still going strong in the Amazon Kindle Store – the price went up in January, again because of changes to UK VAT laws – and I am exploring a self-published print run at the moment. I’ve got some interesting opportunities coming up that I’m not quite ready to talk about, but will do when I have more details. One that I can talk about is my second book, Frequently Asked Questions about the PhD Viva, which is currently in production and is on track to be in the Kindle Store by Easter. And I will update on this soon!

Finally, look to the right – I’ve put a subscribe link over there if you want to be emailed whenever new updates and episodes appear on the site. Thanks for supporting the podcast, sharing it and listening to it through the last year, and I hope that I produce some great and helpful things this year.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 32: Ask an Examiner 1

I’ve had a lot of requests over the past few years to interview someone who has experience as a thesis examiner. It’s not difficult to see why: there are a lot of mysteries around examiners in the viva. Who are they? Why them? How do they approach reading a thesis and examining a PhD candidate?

In the first of a new specials series, I’m very happy to welcome back Dr Katy Shaw, who previously came on the podcast in Episode 10 and Episode 14. Katy has lots of experience as a PhD examiner, so we had plenty to talk about – including lots of useful information for PhD candidates.

Let me know what you think of this episode; I hope to interview more examiners in 2015, so if there are more questions you want me to raise then get in touch: leave comments on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me! And if you’d like to support the Viva Survivors Podcast, then why not become a Patron and check out my Patreon campaign?

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)