Where & When

The viva isn’t a huge surprise. Thankfully you don’t turn around one day and-

-tell us about your contribution to knowledge!

Online or on-campus, tomorrow or six months from now, you’ll know where and when your viva will take place. You’ll know for weeks beforehand.

Knowing where and when helps your preparation: of course, read your thesis, think about your work, rehearse – and think about what you will do to arrive at that place and time, on that day, in the best state possible.

If you’re at home, what will you do beforehand? How will you arrange your viva space? How can you make it great for you?

If you’re in your department, how will you get there? What do you need to check about the room in advance? What do you need for it to be good?

At some point you’ll know where and when. Then you can start a small but useful part of the preparations for your viva.

What If Something Goes Wrong?

Let’s be clear: it’s unlikely that something will “go wrong” in your viva.

Unlikely doesn’t matter though if you’re really worried now.

Unlikely really doesn’t matter if it’s happening on the day.

So what do you do?

  • Stop.
  • Take a breath.
  • Take a sip of water.
  • Ask a question.
  • Ask for a break.
  • Ask for time to think.
  • Think about what you can do. If you have an independent chair, talk to them.
  • If you don’t, talk to your internal.

Whatever it is, there’s a process. Just stop first. Then see what’s next. A pause might be enough to make you feel like you’re making too much of the situation. It may not be as wrong as you think.

But again, let’s be clear: it’s unlikely that something will go wrong in your viva. It’s unlikely because your examiners are up to the job and following an established process.

It’s unlikely because you are ready by that point. Your research is done, your thesis is done and you are ready and up to the task of discussing your work.

One Year Later

It’s a year since I started the daily blog. There’s times when it feels like I’m not doing all that much, but when I pause – like today – and look back I can see how much I’ve done. In one year I’ve written over 360 posts, released several free resources, produced several blog book compilations and delivered Viva Survivor workshops to over 500 PhD candidates around the UK. All in all, I’m quite proud of how far the blog has come in one year and what I’ve done to help people get ready for their vivas.

It’s important to pause whenever you can doing a PhD or any big project really: pause and think about what you’ve accomplished. Day-by-day it’s hard to see progress, but taking a pause every now and then can really help. Look back over your PhD. It’s no accident that you’re doing it. If your viva is coming up soon you’re in the best possible place you can be to meet the challenge. Day-by-day you might have your doubts but look back over a year and think about everything you’ve accomplished. Everything you didn’t have one year ago. Everything you’ve built up and created.

Draw on that motivation and don’t stop.