What does the viva look like?

Hello!

I’ve not forgotten you, in fact I’m busy working in my quiet time (Ha! I have a five month old, I have no quiet time!) on editing the first podcast of 2014 which I recorded recently. Fingers crossed that will be released before the end of the week.

In the mean time, have you got two minutes to spare?

I’m conducting a bit of research to try to get a picture of the UK PhD viva. I could ask lots and lots of questions, but thought I would get a snapshot, a quick postcard of what it’s like. If you did your PhD at a UK university and your viva was sometime this century (2000-2013) could I ask you to take two minutes and answer seven quick questions?

The survey is here: UK PhD Viva Survivors 2000-2013

If you can help with your data that would be great, and if you have the means or the contacts to boost this signal then please do. The more data I get, the more interesting picture I can potentially find amongst all of the experiences of people.

Thank you for your time!

Nathan

2014 on Viva Survivors

Happy New Year!

Is it too late to say that? Maybe, but I mean it all the same – regardless of whether or not your viva is in 2014 I hope that everything goes exceptionally well for you in the twelve months. 2013 was a good year for me personally: my wife and I moved house, we had a daughter (CJ, now nearly four months old!), and I continued to be amazed by the opportunities that came my way and the interesting things that happened to me.

One thing that was less good was my commitment to the podcast. Shocking really, that this time last year I was planning to get the total number of podcasts up to 40 by the end of 2013. A massive over-estimation in terms of my time and energy (amazing what becoming a father will do for your free time). The last new episode was way back in June! Still, the podcast is not forgotten, I will just have to be a lot cleverer when it comes to carving out the time to interview people, but I’ll say more on that in a moment. Read More

Not Forgotten

Hello all!

How are you? How have you been over the summer? Hard to believe that November is almost upon us. I don’t know where 2013 has disappeared to, and since I became a father in the last six weeks, time seems to have blurred past.

The podcast will be returning soon, as life starts to become normal for me again. If I have chatted with you in the past over email, please reconnect with me and we’ll set something up. If you’ve been listening to the podcast in the last few months (and the site stats tell me that a lot of you have) and would like to contribute your story, then please get in touch.

Follow @VivaSurvivors on Twitter – tweeting should be resuming soon – share the podcasts, and keep your eyes open for more announcements between now and Christmas, as well as the return of brand new episodes!

All the best,

NathanPS – I am loving being a dad! Our daughter CJ is just amazing.

Site and Sounds

Hello all!

It’s been a while since I updated, work and personal life have intruded and made it more difficult for me to record and post. That’s all coming to an end though! Although I have a major life change coming up (impending fatherhood), the podcast will continue. And the site is looking a lot better than it did already.

A week ago I went to an Intermediate WordPress course held at the Omniversity of Manchester, and I was shown just what I could get WordPress to do with a bit of thought and time. The site is by no means finished though, although improvements so far have included

  • a much nicer theme – this is the 2013 theme from WordPress!
  • better sharing buttons – so if you like something and want to tell other people please do!
  • better commenting – spam is now being blocked by Akismet!
  • a Twitter feed – because, well, you might not be following @VivaSurvivors yet!

Another piece of infrastructure that is being put together is the Viva Survivors Podcast Newsletter – I don’t have all of the answers about this yet, but soon I’ll have a subscribe option for this, along with details of what to expect and when to expect it. This isn’t the first stage in sending you lots of advertising, just a means to send on links and thoughts about the viva that don’t fit with the main podcast (at the moment). I’ll write again when the newsletter is started, but keep an eye out for that.

The last thing I want to mention for now is that I have been collecting links to articles, blogposts and media related to the PhD viva. One of my goals for the next week is to sensibly curate that for a new Links and Resources page on the site. If you know of any really valuable thoughts/links to share, then please let me know so that I can pass that on via the site.

That’s all for now: keep an eye on @VivaSurvivors on Twitter, and please comment or email me if want to get in touch!

All the best,

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.

Read More

Episode 17: Dr Stacey Habergham

In this first podcast after my house-moving hiatus I talk to Dr Stacey Habergham, who completed her PhD in Astrophysics earlier this year. Stacey did her research at Liverpool John Moores University, and is now a post-doc and outreach officer there as well. You can find Stacey on Twitter as @AstroHabs.

Stacey and I talked a bit about some of the outreach activities that she is involved with, and she very kindly sent through the following links!

If you’ve got questions or comments about the podcast then please leave them on the post, or email me – or get in touch via the site’s Twitter account: @VivaSurvivors. And please get in touch if you would like to share your PhD and viva experiences!

Restart!

Hello all!

The last few months have been really busy for me: my wife and I bought our first house, we’re halfway through the pregnancy for our first child and I’m entering a busy period of work (May is always busy it seems!). So it seems like it’s about the right time to get the podcast going again. Coincidentally, I’ve had a lot of emails and tweets over the last week since Viva Survivors got a little mention in a Times Higher Education article about the viva* – so I’m hoping to record a few interviews over a couple of days and then edit in the evenings.

I’m very attached to the idea of continuing occasional podcasts on related topics – academic jobs and interviews with examiners to name two – and if you would like to contribute to those or the main podcast series then please get in touch! I would love to hear from you.

I’ve also started self-publishing books this year: Fail Your Viva is available in the Kindle Store, and will be available in some form soon as a print-on-demand paperback. I’m writing several other books at the moment, but I’m not currently planning another viva preparation related book for this year – although there are some ideas that didn’t quite fit in Fail Your Viva.

So: coming soon, more podcasts, more questions asked about the viva – and if you have any particular questions, maybe now is a good time to ask them. I can’t make promises, but maybe we can find some answers.

It’s good to be back 🙂

Nathan

*sooner or later I’ll try to blog about the article. I had mixed feelings about the picture it painted of the viva…

Episode 16: Dr David McGrogan

In this episode I talk to Dr David McGrogan, who recently had the viva for his PhD in international law. Dave is my best friend, and I’ve been asking him since I started the podcast whether or not he would be willing to come on eventually and talk about his experiences. He recently took up a position at Northumbria University in the School of Law.

If you’ve got questions or comments, then leave them on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me – particularly if you would like to share your story on the podcast.

And finally, if you’ve read “Fail Your Viva – Twelve Steps To Failing Your PhD (And Fifty-Eight Tips For Passing)” then please get in touch, I’d love to know what you think!