Foundations

I sometimes think viva preparation is like renovating a house.

Annotating your thesis is like hanging wallpaper. Making a summary is like knocking a wall through to let in more light. A mock viva could be repairing the roof, making sure the house is ready in case of a storm.

None of it helps if you don’t have a good house and foundations: your thesis and the research you’ve done to get you there.

Renovation takes time. Viva prep takes time too, but if you feel stretched because of work, because of life, then breathe. It’s OK. Do what you can, and remember you’ve done the hardest part of your PhD.

You laid strong foundations over years of work.

Relatively Important

Was my viva important? Yes, but…

  • Have I had worse days before or since? Yes.
  • Have I had better days? Yes.
  • More stressful? Yes.
  • Have I worked harder? Yes.
  • Have I thought more deeply? Yes.
  • Have I felt more pressured? Yes.

Was my viva important? Yes, but it’s not in the top ten most important days of my life.

It’s not even in the top ten most important days of my PhD.

Your viva is important, of course it is, and it may feel like the most important thing ever. But are you framing it as too big of a deal? Are you making it more important than everything you’ve done? Are you attaching more stress to it than you need to?

Reflect a little for yourself. How you feel about your viva can be a tricky problem to solve. A guy on the internet saying that you’ll have better, worse and more stressful days doesn’t magically solve how you might feel…

…but it’s a start. Where do you go from there?

Best of Viva Survivors 2017: Reflections

I’m rounding 2017 off with five days of link sharing for five different areas I’ve posted on this year. Reflections is the catch-all category I have for posts which are when I’m pondering and musing over the viva. I spend a lot of time thinking about the viva and how to help people prepare for it, so it’s not all that surprising that this shows up.

There will be many, many more reflections from me on the blog in 2018. I hope that some of these have helped you think about what your viva will be like. See you here in 2018: tomorrow! 😀

Found another post that you think is awesome? Let me know! And please share my best of 2017 posts with anyone who might need them. Retweets are always welcome!

Best of Viva Survivors 2017: Short Posts

I’m rounding 2017 off with five days of link sharing for five different areas I’ve posted on this year. Today I’m sharing some of my favourite short posts. Sometimes I’ll have a thought and realise it doesn’t take many words to explain it. Others, it’s the beginning of something else I’ll come back to another time. In any case, all of the posts below are brief but helpful. I’ve provided a tiny excerpt from each post to give a taste!

These aren’t the only short posts on the blog. In 2018 I’m hoping to make time to go through and tag shorter posts so they become more searchable. Good idea?

Found another post that you think is awesome? Let me know! And please share my best of 2017 posts with anyone who might need them. Retweets are always welcome!

Best of Viva Survivors 2017: Questions

I’m rounding 2017 off with five days of link sharing for five different areas I’ve posted on this year. Today we’re exploring posts about questions. I love using questions to help people unpick all sorts of aspects of the viva, from prep through to feelings and questions that candidates can work through and answer to get as ready as possible.

Questions help because they lead to answers. I like series of questions for digging into a topic, and hope to write more posts like this next year.

Found another post that you think is awesome? Let me know! And please share my best of 2017 posts with anyone who might need them. Retweets are always welcome!

Best of Viva Survivors 2017: Acronyms & Tools

I’m rounding 2017 off with five days of link sharing for five different areas I’ve posted on this year. Today the focus is on acronyms and thinking tools that I think could be really useful for viva prep or thinking about your research. I love these sorts of concepts that try to help with clear thinking or providing structure. Take a look and see what you think.

Acronyms are like beautiful little bundles of help. Thinking tools can give frameworks to help direct your thinking. To my mind, both perfect places to look for viva help!

Found another post that you think is awesome? Let me know! And please share my best of 2017 posts with anyone who might need them. Retweets are always welcome!

Best of Viva Survivors 2017: Viva Prep

I’m rounding 2017 off with five days of link sharing for five different areas I’ve posted on this year. I’m starting today with the topic of viva prep which is something I think about every day. How can we best approach it? How can I help people think about it and then do something effective? Here’s a list of some of the best posts from 2017 to help with preparing for the viva!

I hope these posts are really useful for you. There are hundreds of posts on the blog from 2017, so go looking and see what you find.

Found something else on viva prep that you think is awesome? Let me know! And please share my best of 2017 posts with anyone who might need them. Retweets are always welcome!

Happy Christmas

A quick note…

This is the last blog post until the 27th. For a few days after that I’ll be publishing round-up posts on some of my favourite posts from the last nine months, then things will get back to normal (for some value of normal) with new daily posts.

However you celebrate this time of year, I hope you have a good time.

If your viva is in the New Year, take a break, prep can wait.

All the best, and thanks for reading!

Nathan

Future Resources

I have an ever-growing list of ideas, potential projects and things to make to help people be ready for their viva. If you look around this site you’ll see lots of resources already:

  • over sixty episodes of the podcast in the archive;
  • a curated list of useful links from all over the place;
  • original free resources like The tiny book of viva prep and my first Viva Minicast;
  • pages with my ebooks and print guides;
  • and, to date, almost 250 daily viva posts!

I get stuck thinking about which future projects and resources to prioritise. Which should I do first? Are there any I shouldn’t bother with at all? What kind of resources will help? What would make the biggest difference?

Rather than try to figure it all out for myself, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have ideas for the kinds of resources that could help, then please, tell me! What you do you want? What do you think would help? Where are there gaps in terms of helpful resources about the viva?

Please email or tweet at me if you’ve any ideas!

Often the first step to finding a solution is really figuring out what you need. So… What do you need?