A Viva Alphabet

There’s lots and lots to unpack about the viva. Questions, answers, preparation, people, the PhD process, research, confidence and so much more! We can’t cover everything in one post, but what can we do…? How about the following: aspects of the viva and questions that could be helpful.

  • A is for Advice: take advice from anyone who can help. Who could give you great advice about the viva?
  • B is for Better: this is you at the end of the PhD. In what ways have you improved over the last few years?
  • C is for Confidence: it’s OK to feel nervous, but it’s right to feel good about your work. What can you do to build up your confidence?
  • D is for Defence: an alternate name for the viva. Are you ready to defend your choices?
  • E is for Examiners: they’ll be ready for the viva. What are you doing to get ready?
  • F is for Failure: it’s a remote possibility but a persistent thought. What can you do to push it aside?
  • G is for Good: there’s a lot of good stuff in your thesis (or you wouldn’t be where you are). What three things jump out when you think about it now?
  • H is for Help: ask for what you need. So… What do you need?
  • I is for I-Don’t-Know: it’s fine to say this in the viva. What do you feel uncertain about?
  • J is for Journey: it’s taken some time to get to where you are. How far have you come?
  • K is for Kit: every candidate needs to take their thesis, pen and paper and water. What else would be useful to you?
  • L is for Learning: you cannot get to the end of the PhD unchanged. What have you learned along the way?
  • M is for Minor: expect that you’ll have minor corrections because most people do. How will you fit them around everything else in your life that you have to do?
  • N is for Need: there’s lots of advice about what you “should” do to prepare, or “should” do or say in the viva. But what do you need to do to feel as confident as possible?
  • O is for Obstacles: there’s no chance that you finished without encountering problems. What obstacles have you overcome during your PhD?
  • P is for Preparation: success and confidence in the viva is not down to hope. What are you going to do to be prepared?
  • Q is for Questions: there are 1001+ things you could be asked in the viva. What questions have you been asked about your thesis?
  • R is for Research: this is how you got to where you are. So what have you done?
  • S is for Summaries: making summaries of your thesis is a good exercise and produces a valuable resource. What formats work for you?
  • T is for Thesis: you wrote a book! Congratulations – now what can you usefully add in annotations in preparation for the viva?
  • U is for Understanding: this is what you need from friends and family, as they might not know what the viva is about. How can you help them give this to you?
  • V is for Valuable: your thesis has to contain something of value. What do you think is valuable in your research?
  • W is for Why: the fundamental question. Why? (…did you do the research? …does it matter? …is it right?)
  • X marks the spot: some things in your thesis really are more valuable than others. When annotating how are you going to highlight them?
  • Y is for Yes: a celebratory yes!!! (what else did you think you might be saying at the end of the viva?)
  • Z is for Zzzzzzz: you could easily feel exhausted by the end of the viva. Or are you going out to celebrate? 🙂

Not the whole of the viva experience or viva preparation by any stretch, but we’ve covered a lot. What do you think? Any suggestions or substitutions?

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