How Much Do You Say?

This is a very common question about the viva and I have a lot of thoughts!

  • The most honest response is simply, “It depends,” because it really does depend on the question, the discussion, the situation and what is really being asked.
  • In some situations you might want to convince your examiners of something. You respond by saying as much as you need to: you give details and reasoning and respond to any objections.
  • Sometimes you might respond to a question in the viva with as much as you can: you share what you know, you check your thesis and perhaps reach a limit for what you can add to the discussion (or at least you reach the limit that you feel in the moment).
  • Maybe you encounter a question and don’t really know what you can say. You share a little or offer thoughts because you don’t know exactly the sort of thing your examiners want. That’s fine: if they need more they can ask for more. It might also help to ask them directly, to ask them for clarity or information.

How much do you say in response to a question? It depends on the question. It depends on the situation. It depends on your knowledge, your experience and your research. It depends on knowing what your examiners are looking for.

To know that you might have to ask them a question or two.