Six Stories

A recurring theme on the blog is that stories matter – and sharing stories of viva experiences will help change the culture in postgraduate researcher communities. Here are six episodes of the podcast that share some good, useful stories of the PhD and the viva:

  • Dr Fiona Noble: a great episode supported by three generous blog posts Fiona wrote about the different stages of the end of her PhD.
  • Dr Tatiana Porto: one of the longest episodes of the podcast, and also one of my favourites. Tatiana and I talk about how Doctor Who helped her through the PhD.
  • Dr Katy Shaw: I’ve interviewed Katy several times for special episodes on academic jobs and early career research too!
  • Dr Fiona Whelan: Fiona describes some stressful elements of her viva, as well as the positive outcomes. Check out her site about life after the PhD too, Beyond The Doctorate.
  • Dr Laura Bonnett: I talk with Laura about what happened when her examiners didn’t agree on the outcome of her viva, and how that situation was resolved.
  • Dr Nathan Ryder: Me! Another story about viva experiences, it just happens to be mine.

I believe that the more we share stories about the viva, the more we will improve the expectations, the culture and the perception of the viva. New episodes of the podcast will hopefully appear in 2019, but if you know of more stories or helpful articles, then let me know. It all helps.

Five Years

Viva Survivors started as a podcast five years ago today. A lot has happened. That’s an understatement, but a good starting point.

In five years I’ve produced over sixty episodes of the podcast, written three books, delivered hundreds of workshops to thousands of PhDs and that’s scratching the surface. That’s just the numbers, not the real achievements, not the real milestones.

Viva Survivors started as a podcast, and has only recently broadened out with the daily blog. With the Other Resources, Books and eBooks pages, there has been more than just interviews for some time. It was only seven weeks ago that I “officially” threw the switch that changed things, but the change was coming for a while. I’m really happy with how it is going and am looking forward to share more posts every day, along with more new original resources for viva prep soon.

At this five year mark I want to say thank you to everyone who I’ve interviewed; thank you to everyone who has shared or tweeted about the site; thank you to everyone who has come to a workshop; thank you to everyone who has bought one of my books; thank you to everyone and anyone who has been a supporter. Viva Survivors does not have a staff of hundreds: there’s me and my wife and our business. This “side” project would not have got anywhere without thousands of other people who have helped our work along.

A question: how has your life changed in the last five years? If you’re finishing up a PhD, what numbers or achievements are you most proud of? Why?

Episode 64: Q&A Special 2

Hi!

This episode has been a long time coming through one thing and another. I had to get a new laptop in the last few weeks, and then configure everything, so while I had this second Q&A Special recorded I couldn’t edit it. But hurrah, I’ve done it!

I got a couple of questions via email for this episode, and decided to add to those by sharing some answers to interesting questions I got at workshops in the last few months. I’m going to put an open call for questions out on Twitter and on the podcast from this point on! So whenever I get, say, six or seven questions in the list I’ll record a new Q&A Special and put it in the schedule.

This episode also marks a change of music! I had been thinking about a new theme tune for some time, and then heard of Jukedeck, a service that uses AI to compose music. I found a tune that it had composed and tweaked a few parameters, and it gave a really cool new piece of music that I’ll be using from now on.

Would you like to come on a future episode of the podcast? Email me, tweet at me or leave a comment on the site and I’ll reply. Send questions about the viva for a future special and if you’re looking for more help with viva preparation, you could also check out my books and ebooks.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 63: Dr Daniel Soule

Well hello there!

In this episode I’m talking to Dr Daniel Soule, who completed his PhD in 2007 at the University of Glasgow. Dan’s thesis was on nationalism and post-devolution elections in Scotland, and we talked about how he did his research, how he prepared for his viva, and what happened on the day.

We also talked about research writing: through his training business, Grammatology, Dan’s worked with thousands of researchers to help them write better. We chatted about some of his experiences and advice for researchers at all stages. Check out his website, and you can find him on Twitter as @grammatologer.

Would you like to come on a future episode of the podcast? Email me, tweet at me or leave a comment on the site and I’ll reply! Similarly, if you’ve got comments or questions about this episode or the viva in general then please drop me a line. If you’re looking for more help with viva preparation, you could also check out my books and ebooks.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 45: Dr Eileen Pollard

In this episode I’m interviewing Eileen Pollard, who completed her PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2013. Eileen’s research was on the writing of Hilary Mantel. We had a good chat about how she came to do her research, how she prepared for her viva and what happened on the day.

Eileen talks on the podcast about a technique she found particularly useful in her viva prep; you can find the method in the chapter ‘The Examination Process’, in How to get a PhD: A Handbook for Students and their Supervisors, which you can find on Amazon here, and I think I found a link to the method on Google Books.

If you’ve got questions or comments for this or any episode then feel free to comment on the site, or email me. You can also tweet @DrRyder or @VivaSurvivors. I love hearing from people who want to come on the podcast to share their PhD and viva experiences. If you can, consider supporting the podcast by buying one of my ebooks on viva preparation.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 42: Dr Katy Shaw

Eagle-eyed followers of the podcast will know that this is not the first time that Dr Katy Shaw has come on the podcast – in fact it’s the fourth time that she has joined me on Viva Survivors! You can find her other episodes here. In this episode we had a catch up of what Katy has been up to recently, and she shared some really interesting experiences and advice for people wanting to work in academia.

The book that I asked Katy about was Mining the Meaning, and you can find all of her other books on Amazon too (and probably from other retailers too!). Katy is on Twitter as @DrKatyShaw.

If you’ve got any questions or comments then comment on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors – or email me! Please get in touch if you’d like to appear on a future episode. I’m always looking for PhD graduates who want to share their research and viva experiences. And if you’d like to support the production of the Viva Survivors Podcast then check out my ebooks on viva preparation.

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 41: Dr Malcolm Craig

In this episode I’m talking with Dr Malcolm Craig, who completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh last year. Malcolm’s research is in Cold War history, and we have an interesting conversation about how he came to research in that area, and also how he did research in that area. Malcolm’s viva was in June 2014, and he shared his preparation and experiences, as well as talking about his blog, The Atomic Age, and the podcast he co-hosts with Mark McClay, American History Too! You can find him on Twitter as @contestedground.

If you’ve got questions or comments for this or any episode then feel free to comment on the site, or email me. You can also tweet @DrRyder or @VivaSurvivors. I’m always happy to hear from people who would be interested in coming on the podcast to share their PhD and viva experiences, or to join me for a special about Academic Jobs or being an examiner.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

The Podcast is 3! Plus Ebook Offer

On the 6th of June 2012 I started the podcast, which means that this Saturday is the 3rd birthday! I don’t have cake and ice cream unfortunately, but I am still pretty excited that the podcast is something that resonates with a lot of people. I love hearing from people have found it useful – and from people who want to join me on the podcast to share their experiences.

It’s also around this time of year that I have to pay the hosting bill for the podcast *sad face* I’ve resisted putting a donate button, but am now thinking that might be a good way to cover the various expenses of running the site. What do you think? Good idea?

To help with covering the hosting, and as a way of celebrating the third birthday, I’ve set up some special offer codes for my two books on viva preparation. These codes work for buying the ebooks via Payhip, where you can get them in .mobi and .epub formats.

  • If you click here you can see my books, and by using code PODCAST3 you can get 10% off!
  • And as a special bonus, if you want to buy the Viva Books Bundle, use the code VSPEXTRA to get 20% off!

The codes are good until midnight on Sunday 7th June 2015. And on Monday there will be a brand new episode, where I’m talking to Dr Malcolm Craig about his PhD and viva, and what’s he up to now. If you want to join me on a future episode then just get in touch, I’m always looking for more people who want to share their PhD and viva experiences, and help others with their preparation.

Thanks to everyone who has been on the podcast in the last three years, to everyone who has listened and shared them, and to everyone who has helped me get this far. I’ve got ideas and plans for the future, so let’s see what the next year brings. Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 38: Dr Robin Wilson

In this episode I’m chatting with Dr Robin Wilson, who had his viva in January. Robin’s PhD at the University of Southampton was in remote sensing, and it was really interesting to hear about how he got interested in that area, as well as the results and applications of his research. Robin also shared some of his experiences of doing his PhD in a Doctoral Training Centre – something that is becoming more and more common. You can find Robin on Twitter as @sciremotesense.

If you’ve got any questions or comments about this episode, then comment on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors – or email me! And please get in touch if you’d like to appear on a future episode. I’m always looking for more PhD graduates who are happy to share their research and viva experiences. I’m also looking for academics happy to talk about Academic Jobs or what it is like being an Examiner for future specials.

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 36: Dr Anna McFarlane

In this episode I talk to Dr Anna McFarlane, who recently completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of St Andrews. Anna’s thesis is on one of my favourite authors, William Gibson, and so it was great to have this opportunity to interview her about her research, and of course, her viva. Anna is the co-editor of Vector: The British Science Fiction Association’s Critical Journal, and you can find her on Twitter as @mariettarosetta.

If you’ve got any questions or comments about this episode, then comment on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors – or email me! And please get in touch if you’d like to appear on a future episode – either to talk about your viva, or if you have the experience, to talk about Academic Jobs or being an Examiner.

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)