I try every day to share something useful about the viva, but there are a lot of topics to be covered!
Back in June 2017 I shared A Viva Alphabet as a way to start thinking about many of the different themes and ideas that surround the viva. Today, I share a new series of thoughts. Again, I can’t cover every issue connected with the viva, but it’s a wide range of topics:
- A is for Allies: there are lots of people around you who can help. Who do you need to ask first?
- B is for Book: that’s what you have made! What could you do to help get a good working model of it in your mind?
- C is for Contribution: the outputs of your research make a difference. How do you define yours?
- D is for Doctorate: what you have been working towards. What will yours allow you to do?
- E is for External: one of your examiners. Why were they a good choice?
- F is for Finished: almost! What does this mean for you?
- G is for Grumbles: you probably have some about your PhD, or about the viva. What can you do about them, or how can you live with them?
- H is for Hard Work: you must do a lot of this to get to submission. What has been hardest?
- I is for Internal: your other examiner! What do you know about them?
- J is for Jot: the margins of your thesis are a great space for annotations. What could you add during your prep to help you in the viva?
- K is for Knowledge: like Hard Work, you must have a lot of this. What do you know now that you didn’t know at the start of your PhD?
- L is for Location: your viva has to take place somewhere. Where is the room and what is it like?
- M is for Mock: a very common viva preparation activity. What would you hope to get from yours?
- N is for Notes: you can make them throughout the viva. What would help you to do this well?
- O is for Outcomes: there are many possibilities. What are the details of the outcomes at your institution?
- P is for Post-it Note: one of the most valuable resources for viva prep! What could you use them for?
- Q is for Quick: your viva is unlikely to be this, but it might feel that way. Either way, how could you prepare for the open-ended length of your viva?
- R is for Response: what you can offer to a question in the viva. What would help you give good responses?
- S is for Supervisor: the person who probably knows your work second-best to you. What help could they offer in preparation for the viva?
- T is for Talented: what you necessarily are by submission-time. What are your skills, attributes and capabilities as a good researcher?
- U is for Unique: you, your thesis, your viva! What makes you different? What makes everything you’ve done special?
- V is for Viva: what else could it be??! Talk to your friends about theirs, see what general expectations you can discern for yours.
- W is for Wondering: it’s not wrong to doubt or worry, but it is right to be fairly confident about your examiners’ assessment of your thesis. What do you hope they see in your research?
- X is the Unknown: it’s reasonable to say “I don’t know” in the viva; some questions might not have answers. What could help you to give the best response you could?
- Y is for You: it’s all up to You, your Hard Work, your Knowledge and the fact that you are Talented. If you have doubts still, what could help you to see that you are good at what you do?
- Z is for Zero: the probability of your failure. Given everything you’ve done to get this far, what – realistically – could lead to you not passing?
Which of these have you considered before? What has passed you by so far? Any ideas for substitutions?
And what might you do now, having considered this new viva alphabet?