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!
Thanks for listening! (and reading!)
Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)
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I’ve just found your site and have found the podcasts interesting. One thing I would say is, being a mature lady (!) that although it’s great to hear others’ experiences, they remind me of asking other women about childbirth: no two are alike, it may not be as painful as the other person’s, and everyone has a different result! ;-)) They have been best therefore for me on practical tips on preparing for the viva.
Similarly, I think your project of statistically gathering data is perhaps not too useful, forgive me for saying, but how does the ‘average’ of experiences/passes etc. help? I could be at either end of the scale. Sorry to criticise, clearly the mathematician in you! I suppose the best use would be it could calm nerves, i.e. vivas can be shorter than one thinks. However, it can also be worrying… on your youtube video with Emma Cole (which is how I found your podcasts) you mentioned “only one in four or five” students do a mock viva. I have one in 10 days and was really thinking it would be useful until then!
Something you may like to think about is interviewing (a) mature students and (b) those working full time and tackling part-time study on top. If I pass mine I’ll maybe get back in touch!!
The site is great, so please don’t take this as anything but constructive criticism… oops! like a viva!!
Thanks for your comments on the podcast! I hope that you’ve found something useful from the episodes that you’ve listened to. I’m also really glad that you saw the video with Emma Cole: it was great to have the opportunity to work with Emma and share things via YouTube.
Thanks for your thoughts on lots of the issues around viva prep and the podcast too. It’s a few weeks since I saw the video, so I don’t remember if it was left in or not, but I’m sure that I mentioned during filming – as I do in the workshops that I run – that while 20/25% of people seem to have mock vivas, every one of those people that I’ve spoken to has found them to be a valuable part of their preparation. I would never try to give the indication in anything that I do that it was not a useful thing to do: simply that I think that that part of prep is up to an individual’s preference (i.e., doing a mock viva might be a stressful thing in itself). I am very sorry if you got a different impression from the video.
I’m always looking for more people to take part in the podcast: if you were interested in taking part in the future I’d be happy to hear from you. If you’re looking for episodes featuring mature or part time students, or PhD students who worked during their PhD then check out Episodes 13, 15, 23 and 24 – maybe there are some experiences in those episodes that resonate with your own experience?
Thanks so much again for your comment, it’s great to hear from people who’ve listened to the podcast: my hope with it over the last three years is that people can hear that while vivas do vary, there are lots of common threads of experience.