Best of Viva Survivors 2021: Long Posts

The Viva Survivors review of 2021 continues with some of my favourite long posts from this year.

Most of the time my daily posts range between 100 and 200 words; occasionally I go a little longer. Here are five that will take more time to read but which hopefully also contain more for the extra words.

They’re a little more reflective in most cases; it’s been that kind of year I guess.

  • Still Interesting Times – a year on from my first post about the pandemic on the blog. I have a feeling there will be another post like this in March 2022 at the two year anniversary.
  • Solving The Prep Problem – a big post all about getting prep done!
  • The Missing Things – another post reflecting on how things have changed in the last few years and what you might need as a result.
  • The Essentials – a story from my journey as a researcher-developer and some questions to help unpick what you might need to get ready for the viva.
  • Space To Feel – a reflection on something important that has stood out to me more and more while delivering webinars.

More posts but fewer words tomorrow – I’ll share some of my favourite short posts from 2021.

Still Interesting Times

A year ago, just before the first UK lockdown, I wrote “Interesting Times” – an extra post for March 16th, recognising that difficult change was coming hard and fast.

A year later, it feels like that change has never stopped.

It’s strange to read that I thought I would be working from home and doing webinars for “a few months”. That became a year. That will most likely be the rest of this year too. And that’s fine.

In the UK we have dates in the diary for the coming months when restrictions might lift and things could change. They’re all provisional though, and things could change again – conditions in the autumn or winter might make things harder for many people once more.

A year ago I wrote this:

I’m going to continue to publish and share a post every day about the viva. I don’t know how vivas will change, temporarily or otherwise, but I know what examiners are looking for, I know what candidates can do to meet the challenges of a viva, and I can help people to see the kinds of work or ideas that can help them be ready.

If you are struggling, ask someone for help. Ask me: email me, tweet at me, and if I can I will help. I may not have an answer that solves things for you, but I’ve helped a lot of people. If you need to, just ask.

In and amongst everything this last year, that’s stayed the same. It’s no silver lining that the interesting times of the last year have opened interesting doors for me to connect with PhD candidates, but within all the chaos I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to help. I’m grateful for more time with my family. I’m grateful to friends and colleagues I don’t get to see in-person any more who do amazing work to support researchers and inspire me to do more.

I finished Interesting Times by writing:

Ask for help if you need it. Offer help where you can.

Survive means “manage to keep going in difficult circumstances.”

Keep going.

Let me reframe: get in touch if you need help. Help your friends, family and colleagues. Survive, keep going.

Pause, reflect, reset – change tactics if you need to – but keep going.