How are things? You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here for a while. Summertime is busy in my house – there’s a brief flurry as I work on various summer schools and end-of-year programmes at universities, and then holidays, work being done on the house (plastering, painting, decorating, bits of DIY and home improvements), spending time with my daughter (who is almost 1! I don’t know where the last year went) and then –

BAM! September.

So what is coming up on the Viva Survivors Podcast over the coming months?

  1. First up, more podcasts! I’ve put the call out already on Twitter and other channels looking for more people who want to share their story. My aim for October through to the end of the year is to get two podcasts per month out. Will I succeed? I need help! Can you help me by volunteering or telling someone with an interesting PhD/viva story to get in touch? Thanks!
  2. Linking outwards. I’ve been listening for a long time about social media and so on, so time to put those ideas into practice. Behold, a Facebook page, a G+ page – I’ve even linked my LinkedIn profile! I think the Viva Survivors Podcast is pretty good – and feedback that I get from listeners and tweeters is that it is interesting and helpful for PhD candidates. The stories that people share help others be aware of what to expect from the viva, and think about how they can prepare. By starting these little satellites of contact, perhaps other people will find their way here. I’ll be trying to do more with these channels over the coming months (and using Buffer to try to manage that).
  3. Research. Earlier this year, you might recall that I ran a survey to find out about PhD viva experiences in the UK. I learned a lot from just running the survey – next time I’ll run it better! – but it has taken me some time to really digest the information that came through, and to look for the patterns and signals that were there. At the start of October I’ll be sharing what I’ve found in a series of posts, both here and on my personal/work blog (which is getting a little overhaul at the moment too), and will be looking for comments and questions to see how I can take it forwards. There have been some big surprises that have come out of the data set; I am considering running another quick survey between now and then just to see what the general perception of the viva is, and see whether this matches up with the results of the survey –  i.e., from the data I know about viva lengths, percentages of people who pass with minor corrections and so on – but do people generally have a different perception? That might be interesting to check.

It has been a great privilege to be able to do the podcast for the last few years, and I look forward to continuing it for more to come. Send me your suggestions, ask me questions, tell me what sucks – and I’ll do my best to continue doing my best with this little project.

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)