Whatever kind of research you do, there are four threads that will run through the final year of your PhD. In those last twelve months you will have to:
- Finish your research: no more reading, no more experiments, no more following ideas to see where they lead. You have to find a place to stop.
- Finish your thesis: write, write, write, and then write some more. Get feedback and then do your best to create a good thesis.
- Think about your next steps: at the very least, think. Apply for jobs? Start a business? Write papers? Juggle, juggle, juggle…
- Start your viva preparation: …but only a little!!!
Over 99% of your final year will be the first three threads. You have to get your research done, thesis submitted and start exploring what you will do afterwards. But there are a few small tasks to do before submission that will help with your viva.
First, have a conversation with your supervisors about potential examiners. Think about your preferences and what names that would suggest to you.
Second, get contact details for a member of staff in your graduate school or doctoral college who could help in case of emergency or something unexpected happens.
These are the only two essential tasks for viva preparation in your final year, but if you want to do more then make opportunities to talk about your work and take questions about what you’ve done. Give seminars, present at conferences, go for coffee with friends and build your confidence at talking about your research and what you can do.
Viva prep is a tiny element of your final year, but it still needs to be started.