Research Update 1: Big Spreadsheet Is Big


How are you doing this fine sunny day? (fine and sunny around Liverpool on 6th May around 11:15, your experience may vary!) I’ve switched the title on these irregular updates now, as I’m switching my focus from tweeting and sharing the survey as much as possible to delving into the responses. I’ll still accept any and all people who want to respond now, but I’ve stopped actively sourcing more.

302 responses!

You guys are amazing. I started this survey thinking that I might get 150/200 responses, which would start to sketch a picture of what the viva is like in the UK, but 302 is awesome. This gives me confidence that as well as a sketch we’re going to be able to colour that picture in! Over the coming weeks I’ll be spending evenings and free time unpicking just what I’ve collected and then delving into what it all might mean.

Big Spreadsheet Is Big

OK, maybe I don’t have as much experience handling data as some people out there, but to begin with it is a bit intimidating. 302 responses, seven questions each (eight if you count the Twitter/email address that some people shared). Each of those seven responses has to be looked at visually – for dates and lengths of viva I have to standardise things – and then I have to go through all of the research fields that people submitted and try to organise them too. And some of those pieces of data double or triple up! For example, date is really two pieces (month and year), and the three words that describe a person’s viva is three pieces of information. So all told there is a lot of data to be worked through first.

It’s All Good

Thankfully I have some goals with all of this, and I have time. This data is going to go a long way to producing that picture of the UK PhD Viva. I’ll be creating some kind of report/paper that looks into all of this, and I’ve been invited to share this at one university as part of a training day with PGR students and supervisors. So as the summer warms up in the UK, this research will start to be shared and spread. If you’d like to know more about the research, or would be interested in me coming to your institution, please get in touch either by email or Twitter. Oh, and I was thinking that I might start a mailing list/newsletter for Viva Survivors too. Does that sound good?

Thanks for your time, your efforts, your support. New episode hopefully next week – in the mean time, why not take a look at one of the first 25?

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

PS – a different, hopefully interesting announcement coming soon! Don’t want to have this site become information overload, but time doesn’t stand still either. Watch this space!