One of the things I love about the kind of work I do is that after twelve years helping people with their viva I still get delightfully-phrased questions I’ve never been asked before. I was recently asked about examiner motivations from a very particular perspective:
Do examiners get paid? Or do they take on their role as a kind of philanthropic act?
The short response to these questions is “some do” and “no”! So we need to dig a little deeper.
External examiners are often paid: they can receive a thank-you payment for their work. Your external will be offered a flat fee for examining and expenses, but it won’t be a lot for the amount of work that has to be done. It really is a gesture, a token of thanks.
If your internal says yes then it is just part of their job.
Acting as an examiner is not motivated by money really. It’s not philanthropy either: they aren’t simply doing it out of kindness. In part, they take on the role because there’s a professional expectation that they will examine from time to time.
The real motivation for them to say yes is you and your work.
Examiners are not chosen at random. They are not asked because they happen to be good friends with your supervisor. And they don’t say yes because it’s simply something to do. They say yes because when they are asked they are told a little of what you’ve done; perhaps your abstract is shared with them. If they have time in their schedule and your research sounds interesting then they say yes.
It’s not about the money. It’s not about philanthropy.
It’s about being a professional and being interested – two qualities that they share with you.