Since March 2020, for every session I’ve delivered, I’ve created a Zoom meeting, written up joining instructions for participants, been responsible for hosting the session and had to send all of the information through in plenty of time.
I’ve had to revise the terms of my joining instructions several times over the last eighteen months. I’ve been able to make them clearer, more engaging and also set out expectations for participants. Hopefully they arrive at my session knowing what to expect and what we will be doing more than when I first delivered a session over Zoom: I’ve learned a lot since then!
Reflecting on my changing life and work processes over the last two years has got me thinking about the “joining instructions” that are sent out for the viva. Not the links and logistics that will be arranged in the weeks leading up to a viva, but the signals and signposting in academic culture generally.
Why do so many candidates not know what to expect generally? Why do so many worry about the process when there are so many people passing the viva every year? Why do so many not have a clear picture of how to get ready or how to arrive on the day, with what mindset or approaches they could take?
In the absence of good joining instructions for the viva in academic culture, I would encourage you to write your own. Think about what you need to know. Think about who could help you. Think about what you will do in prep and what you will then do on the day. Consider how you will get ready for all of this.
Then write your own joining instructions: a checklist telling you what to find out for your viva, what to do and when to do it. You can do do what’s needed and be ready to join your viva on the day.