Being SMART About Examiners

Your examiners are an important part of your viva. Spend some of your viva preparation time exploring who they are and what they do. Check their recent publications to get a sense of their research but you don’t need to know everything. Setting a SMART objective to have a clear goal for your efforts is helpful so you don’t stress about needing to do more and more.

  • Specific: What are you trying to learn? What sources will you consider?
  • Measurable: How much work are you going to do? How will you know when you’re done?
  • Advantages: What will you gain by doing this? How are you hoping to feel?
  • Realistic: How many papers are you aiming to read? What makes you think that is enough?
  • Time-bound: What is your deadline? How far in advance of your viva would it be useful to have this task completed?

Just a little planning can make a tricky task manageable. Decide in advance how much prep is enough.

A SMART Review

From time to time I’ve shared an acronym I like on this blog. I’ve talked about SMART before: a useful tool to help with planning, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Advantages, Realistic, Time-bound – the five qualities of an effective goal. It struck me a few weeks ago that these words could also be a nice prompt for reflecting on your research at the end of the PhD:

  • Specific: how would you define what you’ve done in your research?
  • Measurable: how can you be certain of what you’ve achieved?
  • Advantages: how does your work make a contribution?
  • Realistic: how does your work compare to what you were originally planning?
  • Time-bound: how did your research change over the course of your PhD?

Five simple points to reflect on your research before the viva. Making notes on each of these points could make a nice summary of your work for viva prep.