Episode 32: Ask an Examiner 1

I’ve had a lot of requests over the past few years to interview someone who has experience as a thesis examiner. It’s not difficult to see why: there are a lot of mysteries around examiners in the viva. Who are they? Why them? How do they approach reading a thesis and examining a PhD candidate?

In the first of a new specials series, I’m very happy to welcome back Dr Katy Shaw, who previously came on the podcast in Episode 10 and Episode 14. Katy has lots of experience as a PhD examiner, so we had plenty to talk about – including lots of useful information for PhD candidates.

Let me know what you think of this episode; I hope to interview more examiners in 2015, so if there are more questions you want me to raise then get in touch: leave comments on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me!

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Viva Survivors Podcast: Patreon Campaign

I love making this podcast

I really do. This project grew out of a desire to help PhD candidates close to finishing their PhDs. I want them (you!) to realise that the viva is going to be OK – it’s not a mystery, there are real expectations to the viva, and consequently things that can be done to prepare. I hoped that by interviewing people from a variety of backgrounds this would come through.

After a while, I also began to think that it was an opportunity to share stories about what it is like to do research as a postgraduate researcher. Perhaps someone starting a PhD might listen to the podcast and find out what doing research is like – as well as hear about fascinating research. I love being able to hear about what people did for their PhD. There are currently 28 episodes in the archive, Episode 29 will be published on Monday 3rd November. I’m on track to hit my target of 32 episodes by the end of the year.

I want to do more: can you help?

In the last year I had to take time off from the podcast in order to adjust to becoming a dad! Now that I’ve stepped back up to it I’m enjoying it more than ever, and realising that I want to provide more. To help that process, I’ve created a Patreon campaign for the podcast. Patreon is a bit like Kickstarter, but whereas the latter is for a project that isn’t finished yet, Patreon is crowdfunding for ongoing efforts.

I’ve just started the campaign, but as support grows I’ll be able to spend more time on producing episodes, creating new content and expanding the output of the podcast. I have a couple of initial goals (like covering the cost of hosting, creating several pieces of writing each month and producing some focused tips-based episodes), but I also have big dreams. And I need your help to achieve both my goals and my dreams: providing a useful resource to postgraduate researchers in the UK and around the world.

So, can you help me?

If you can, great! The podcast will always be 100% free for everyone, and if you are able to become a Patron for the Viva Survivors Podcast then I can do some things to say thank you in return. I have a variety of things to begin with, like a “Thank You!” page of backers on the podcast, a pre-release notification that new content is coming to the site – and even early access to future episodes!

Patreon is straight-forward to set up, and it seems like a really useful way to support people creating things. Even if you don’t think that you can support the Viva Survivors Podcast at the moment, then have a look around and see what other amazing things people are doing.

Thanks for reading! I’ve really enjoyed the last two and a half years of producing the podcast, sharing the episodes and seeing it become a valuable resource. With your help I hope to continue this and do a lot more. Any help you can offer to support the Viva Survivors Podcast – by sharing the episodes, volunteering to share your story or becoming a Patron – is really appreciated.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 28: Dr Anthony Whittaker

In this episode I talk to Dr Anthony Whittaker, whose PhD research produced a portfolio of original music compositions along with a commentary on the work. It was really interesting talking to Tony – fascinating because his experience of research was so different to my own. As with all of the other episodes of the Viva Survivors Podcast, we talked about the viva as well, how Tony prepared for it and what happened on the day.

Please leave comments about this episode on this post, or if you have questions then email me or tweet @VivaSurvivors. There are now quite a few more episodes lined up between now and the end of the year – including another Academic Jobs Special which will be the next episode. There may be other interesting news about the podcast in the near future, so follow me on Twitter to keep up to date.

Thanks for listening!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 27: Dr Claire O’Callaghan

It’s the first new episode in many months, hurrah! In Episode 27 I’m talking to Dr Claire O’Callaghan, who completed her PhD at the University of Leicester last year. Her research was in English Literature and Gender Studies and focussed on aspects of the work of Sarah Waters. Since this was completely different to my PhD it was really interesting to learn about!

Please leave comments or questions on this post, or feel free to email me or tweet @VivaSurvivors. I have several interviews lined up over the coming weeks, and am aiming for a fortnightly schedule between now and the end of 2014. Keep checking back for more details about the podcast and the future of it.

Thanks for listening!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 26: Dr George Julian

In this episode I’m talking to Dr George Julian, who completed a PhD in the Psychology of Special Education in 2003 at Cardiff University. George is the creator of VivaCards, a great little innovation in viva prep. As well as talking about her PhD and viva, we also had a chat about where these cards came from, how they might be used and what the reaction to them has been like. I bought myself a set last month and think they’re really cool: they’re great for either self-directed preparation or for helping others to ask you helpful questions.

If you’ve got any comments or questions about this or any episode, please get in touch! You can leave comments on all of the episode posts, drop me an email or tweet. I’m always looking for more people who would like to share their experiences – it would be great to hear from you.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 23: Dr Peter Rowlett

In this episode I’m talking to Dr Peter Rowlett, who recently completed his PhD at Nottingham Trent University.  Peter’s research was multidisciplinary and was in the areas of computing and maths education; he did his PhD part time as well, and so we had a lot to talk about for this episode! You can find Peter on Twitter at @peterrowlett.

We’re heading towards twenty-five episodes… I wonder if we’ll have something a bit different to mark the 25th? Maybe!

At the time of writing my research into the viva experiences of PhD graduates in the UK is ongoing, and if you’re able to share your experiences (by answering seven quick questions) or if you’re able to share the survey with others you would be helping me a lot. The survey is here: tinyurl.com/VivaSurvivorsSurvey. Thanks!

As ever, if you have questions or comments then please get in touch, it would be great to hear from you. Leave a comment on any of the posts, email me or tweet me.

More posts coming soon!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 22: Dr Richard Hinchcliffe

It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here! A brand new episode of the podcast, and not a moment too soon. I’ve known Dr Richard Hinchcliffe since 2005 when I was a newbie PGR. Richard directed the very first bit of training that I went on and gave me some invaluable practical advice (you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out what it was!). Years later he hired me on my first gigs as a skills trainer.

Richard’s PhD research examined the theme of melancholia in the works of American author Kurt Vonnegut, and it was really interesting to me to hear about how he went about that research, and also what the run up to his viva was like. Richard is now Head of PGR Development at the University of Liverpool.

This is the first podcast in a looooong time! Adjusting to fatherhood is a daily process, but I think that new episodes will become more frequent over the coming months and I’m arranging interviews with several more Viva Survivors soon. In the mean time, please share the podcasts, leave comments, follow us on Twitter and drop me emails with suggestions or questions. It would be great to hear from you. Oh! And if you have already passed your viva, perhaps you would consider filling in my quick survey that I’m conducting? You can find it at tinyurl.com/VivaSurvivorsSurvey and more details about it on a previous post here.

Thanks for reading and listening, and thanks for your patience!

Nathan

Episode 21: Dr Jessica Goodman

In this edition of the podcast I’m talking to Dr Jessica Goodman, who recently had her viva at Oxford. Jess’s thesis looks at the work and experiences of Carlo Goldoni in Paris in the 18th century, and her research approaches this from many angles. It was fascinating to hear about how she did this research, as well as hear about how she prepared for her viva and what happened on the day.

Jess is currently working on her corrections and will start a position at Clare College, Cambridge, in the autumn. You can find her on Twitter here.

As ever, it would be great to hear your comments about this episode! Either leave comments after a post, email me or tweet at @VivaSurvivors (or the “real” me @DrRyder). Summer can seem like a quieter time in some academic circles, but I’m eager to interview more people so please drop me a line.

I also have a few new features that I hope to include on the site soon, and one or two interesting announcements… Stay tuned!

Episode 18: Dr Anna Krzywoszynska

In this episode I talk with Dr Anna Krzywoszynska, who completed her PhD in Human Geography at the University of Sheffield last year. Anna’s research was in organic wine production in Italy. It was really interesting to hear about how she did her research – something very different from my own research experience.

In the podcast, Anna mentions lists of questions that she used to help prepare for her viva, and she very kindly sent them through to me to share here. I’ve included them at the end of this post. If you have any questions or comments for this episode or any other, then please get in touch, either through the site, on Twitter (I’m @VivaSurvivors and @DrRyder) or by emailing me. I would love to hear from you if you would like to share your story on the podcast.

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