I was at Edge Hill last month to do a workshop. A participant asked me what they could do to prepare with about a year to go until their viva. They were interested at the various stages, i.e., what could one do twelve months before, at nine months, and so on. They were really keen to be ready for the viva!
On the one hand, I don’t think anyone needs to do much of anything for viva prep at that stage; the focus needs to be on finishing research and getting the thesis in on time. On the other hand, this kind of question resonates with me a lot; there are lots of things researchers can do from the start of the PhD which will help them when it comes time to submit and defend (and which could also make the research process and life after the PhD better too!).
For the final year in particular, here are some ideas:
- Have a conversation with your supervisor about possible examiner choices.
- Scope out what you have written and what needs to be written, and then make a plan.
- Write every day, even if it is not something directly for your thesis.
- Make opportunities to talk about your work.
- When your examiners are set, compile a list of their recent papers.
- Find friends and colleagues who are happy to help you prepare once you’ve submitted.
I have a lot more I could say about this – and I have a couple of projects/resources developing in this area – but this list is a start. If your viva is over a year away you don’t need to do anything now, but you could invest time along the way making opportunities that will pay off in the viva.