We don’t talk about it enough.
One day in every UK PhD’s life that is shoved aside, joked about, under-analysed, glossed over and swept under the rug. Don’t think about it too much because you’ll worry or stress. Don’t ask about it because you might hear a story you don’t like the sound of. Don’t explore what happens in case you feel you’re not up to the task. Don’t tell anyone afterwards because it’s over and done with now.
We need to talk about the viva – and I mean “we” because I can’t do it by myself!
We need graduates to talk about how they were feeling: what their expectations were, what happened and what they think that means.
We need academics to talk about their role in the process: what do supervisors do to help and what do examiners do to examine?
We need candidates to talk about how they’re feeling about their viva: what they know, what they don’t and what kind of support they need.
In general we need to talk about the viva more than we’re doing so that we can do a better job of helping candidates realise that it is a manageable challenge in their future. Difficult but do-able, especially given what they’ve already accomplished.