Relative

Compare your experience and knowledge to your examiners and you might feel pretty small. They’ve had longer to see more, learn more, do more and know more. A candidate could easily worry as a result.

But more is not the same as better. Yes, your examiners know more in general, but you know more specifically. They could have a better view of the big picture, but you have a clearer perspective of your research.

Remember: your examiners have read your thesis, but you made it.

Hours & Hours & Hours

There’s lots of hours spent on a PhD, but different ranges depending on the stage you’re at:

  • Five to six thousand to do a PhD.
  • Twenty to thirty in prep for the viva.
  • Two to three for a viva is quite common.

Each of these matters.

Your research and your talent develops over a long period; after that it doesn’t take much to get ready to defend your thesis.

And not too long at all to discuss the important things with your examiners.

Why am I researching the viva?

Well, there might be a clue in the name of this site… But more seriously, here’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Why?

A few days ago I set a survey in motion asking seven quick questions of PhD graduates from UK universities. I talk to a lot of people about the viva – some of them are graduates, and I try when possible to interview them for this podcast – but most of them are candidates. They’ve worked hard for three or more years, become experts in their field, and then I meet them at workshops where some of them are terrified that their world is about to come crashing down. Having spoken to quite a few PhD graduates there are stories and experiences I can pass on, but sometimes the “official” stats seem unclear. I thought it might be interesting to capture a snapshot of what PhD graduates from the last fourteen years have been through – both to see what the stats are, and to see what kind of a picture it creates. And who knows, there might be some interesting things in the data!

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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!

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!

Episode 5: Dr Ben Libberton

In this episode I’m talking with Dr Ben Libberton, who runs the website Literature Review HQ. Ben completed his PhD in Microbial Ecology last year, and recently graduated from the University of Liverpool. As well as running his site, he holds a post-doc in Electrical Engineering.

It was great chatting with Ben, particularly because of his continuing interest in things relating to postgraduate researchers. His site has some great resources, so please go and check it out. He’s also on Twitter: @litreviewhq.

Viva Survivors will be back soon with another episode! I have several interviewees in the pipeline, including a couple which will make for slightly out of the ordinary podcasts. If you have ideas and thoughts for future episodes, even for doing something different (whatever that might be!) then please get in touch. As ever, follow me on Twitter at @VivaSurvivors.

Episodes 1 and 2 Comments

I am not entirely sure why the comments didn’t work for the first two podcast posts, but they seem to be working well enough for future posts. So if you have any comments or questions for Episode 1, featuring Dr Shaine Bushell, or Episode 2 with Dr Anna Tarrant then please write them here! Thanks.

Also you can follow me on Twitter, @VivaSurvivors, or email if you want to with any questions or comments.

Episode 2: Dr Anna Tarrant

In Episode 2 of Viva Survivors I talk with Dr Anna Tarrant, who had her viva last year for her PhD in social geography at Lancaster University. Anna is a Research Associate at the Open University, and is also the Managing Editor of PhD2Published, a site that

“offers a wealth of hints and tips for early-career academics on how to get published as well providing discussion on the future of academic publishing in the e-age”.

PhD2Published looks really cool, and they also have a weekly livechat over Twitter using the hashtag #acwri.

Episode 1 of Viva Survivors is here, and the next episode of Viva Survivors will be along some time in the next ten days; check back for details, or follow us on Twitter: @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 1: Dr Shaine Bushell

In the first episode of Viva Survivors I’m talking with Dr Shaine Bushell, PhD maths graduate of the University of Liverpool and now the Mathematics Enhancement Course Leader at the University of Chester.

Shaine and I were officemates during my PhD, and we’ve remained close friends ever since. It was great to interview him for Viva Survivors, and really interesting to hear the story of how he came to be a researcher, how he prepared for his viva, what happened and what he has been doing since then.

Episode 2 of Viva Survivors is up right now! For details of future episodes, be sure to follow us on Twitter: @VivaSurvivors.