Coming Soon: a new Q&A episode!

Hello!

I’m recording two new episodes of the podcast this week. I plan to record several more interviews in the next few weeks too. I like that the bulk of the podcast’s archive is about sharing stories and experiences, but I’m also happy that there’s been space now and then to do things which are a bit different – like the Academic Jobs Specials, the chances to reconnect with past guests, and the Ask An Examiner special. Last year I tried a Q&A episode, and while only a few questions came in, it ended up being one of the most downloaded and listened to episodes that I released last year.

Everyone loves a sequel

Since we’re at the start of a new year, it seemed like a good time to return to this and do another episode which is all about answering your questions about the viva. So:

  • Got questions about effective viva preparation? Ask!
  • Want to know about viva expectations in the UK? Ask!
  • Thought about doing a podcast but unsure of where to start? I’m happy to help!
  • Got ideas for future episodes you want to throw past me? Please do!
  • Curious about how a shy pure mathematician ended up interested in the viva? I’m happy to talk about it!

Whatever you want to know, please ask, either in the comments on this post, or by tweeting at me. Or you could email me, but in any case you’ve got until February 8th 2017 to get questions in to me. I plan to record the podcast soon after that, with an eye to publish on Monday 13th February.

Ask away

Really: this episode won’t work without your questions. Just let me know what you’d like me to cover. If you don’t have a specific question, but rather a general theme, that’s fine too – just let me know. Thanks for reading this post, please share it with others who might have questions!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Hello!

How are things? You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here for a while. Summertime is busy in my house – there’s a brief flurry as I work on various summer schools and end-of-year programmes at universities, and then holidays, work being done on the house (plastering, painting, decorating, bits of DIY and home improvements), spending time with my daughter (who is almost 1! I don’t know where the last year went) and then –

BAM! September.

Read More

Research Update 2: Big Spreadsheet is Bigger

It’s almost four weeks since I last updated with news of the research. This is largely because I’ve been quietly finding half an hour here and there to standardise the dataset and start to look at some basic patterns in the information. It’s going to take time, and I’m staying focussed at the moment on making sure that I have something valuable to share with people. In early July I’m delivering two sessions where I’m being asked to share my findings, so that will be the first public venue for telling people, which is very exciting.

I’d not thought about it until just as I was writing this post, but the podcast itself would be a good means for sharing what I’ve learned – perhaps a couple of shorter episodes that are targeted to specific parts of the survey? What do you think?

This is just a short post really because I wanted to ask for YOUR thoughts. I asked seven questions (eight, if you count the optional email/Twitter request) in the survey. Given the following seven questions, to which I got 302 responses, what sort of questions might I ask of the data? And what sort of things would be good to look for?

  1. When was your viva?
  2. Which university did you do your research at?
  3. What was your research field?
  4. How long was your viva?
  5. What kind of pass did you get? (No corrections; Minor corrections; Major corrections)
  6. Were you told that you had passed at the start or the end of the viva? (Start; End)
  7. What three words come to mind when you think of your viva?

Over to you: what might I look for?

Please let me know what you think, either by leaving a comment here, tweeting at me, or even drop me an email!

Thanks for reading,

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Research Update 1: Big Spreadsheet Is Big

Hello!

How are you doing this fine sunny day? (fine and sunny around Liverpool on 6th May around 11:15, your experience may vary!) I’ve switched the title on these irregular updates now, as I’m switching my focus from tweeting and sharing the survey as much as possible to delving into the responses. I’ll still accept any and all people who want to respond now, but I’ve stopped actively sourcing more.

302 responses!

You guys are amazing. I started this survey thinking that I might get 150/200 responses, which would start to sketch a picture of what the viva is like in the UK, but 302 is awesome. This gives me confidence that as well as a sketch we’re going to be able to colour that picture in! Over the coming weeks I’ll be spending evenings and free time unpicking just what I’ve collected and then delving into what it all might mean. Read More

Survey Update 2

Hello! How is your month going? Is March treating you well? And can you believe that it’s almost the end of March?

There: that’s three questions, and how easy were they to answer, right? A doddle! The survey that I am running on PhD viva experiences for graduates from UK universities has only seven short questions, so that won’t take long to fill in either! Thanks to the generosity of people sharing the survey and responding there are now 208 responses (at time of writing) – over halfway to the initial goal of 400 responses!

The survey will be open until the end of April to try to get as many responses as possible. With so much data already gathered, my plan for this week is to start going through the responses I have so far and start standardising the data set (e.g., some people have put “January 2004” as the when for their viva and others have put “01/04”) and also separating out some of the fields (three words that people use to describe their viva separated into three distinct data fields). This will allow me to start analysing the data after everything is collected and since there is going to be a lot of questions I’ll be asking of the data it’ll really pay off for me to get cracking now.

Hopefully soon I can talk about an interesting opportunity that has come up in relation to the research; I’m working out some of the details, but when they’re done I’ll be happy to share – perhaps it will be something that others want to pick up on as well… [/mysteriousness!]

208 down, 192 to go – and then more! Can you help me to spread the word about the survey and the research that I am doing? Have you had your viva since the year 2000 at a UK institution? Can you spare two minutes to fill in my quick survey? The link is tinyurl.com/VivaSurvivorsSurvey and every response will help to generate a picture of the UK viva process, as well as allow me to look for interesting patterns and commonalities.

If you have any ideas for how I can share the survey with more people, or contacts that it would be worth me getting in touch with, either drop me an email, comment below or tweet me!

Thanks!

Nathan (on Twitter as @DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

2014 on Viva Survivors

Happy New Year!

Is it too late to say that? Maybe, but I mean it all the same – regardless of whether or not your viva is in 2014 I hope that everything goes exceptionally well for you in the twelve months. 2013 was a good year for me personally: my wife and I moved house, we had a daughter (CJ, now nearly four months old!), and I continued to be amazed by the opportunities that came my way and the interesting things that happened to me.

One thing that was less good was my commitment to the podcast. Shocking really, that this time last year I was planning to get the total number of podcasts up to 40 by the end of 2013. A massive over-estimation in terms of my time and energy (amazing what becoming a father will do for your free time). The last new episode was way back in June! Still, the podcast is not forgotten, I will just have to be a lot cleverer when it comes to carving out the time to interview people, but I’ll say more on that in a moment. Read More

Not Forgotten

Hello all!

How are you? How have you been over the summer? Hard to believe that November is almost upon us. I don’t know where 2013 has disappeared to, and since I became a father in the last six weeks, time seems to have blurred past.

The podcast will be returning soon, as life starts to become normal for me again. If I have chatted with you in the past over email, please reconnect with me and we’ll set something up. If you’ve been listening to the podcast in the last few months (and the site stats tell me that a lot of you have) and would like to contribute your story, then please get in touch.

Follow @VivaSurvivors on Twitter – tweeting should be resuming soon – share the podcasts, and keep your eyes open for more announcements between now and Christmas, as well as the return of brand new episodes!

All the best,

NathanPS – I am loving being a dad! Our daughter CJ is just amazing.

Restart!

Hello all!

The last few months have been really busy for me: my wife and I bought our first house, we’re halfway through the pregnancy for our first child and I’m entering a busy period of work (May is always busy it seems!). So it seems like it’s about the right time to get the podcast going again. Coincidentally, I’ve had a lot of emails and tweets over the last week since Viva Survivors got a little mention in a Times Higher Education article about the viva* – so I’m hoping to record a few interviews over a couple of days and then edit in the evenings.

I’m very attached to the idea of continuing occasional podcasts on related topics – academic jobs and interviews with examiners to name two – and if you would like to contribute to those or the main podcast series then please get in touch! I would love to hear from you.

I’ve also started self-publishing books this year: Fail Your Viva is available in the Kindle Store, and will be available in some form soon as a print-on-demand paperback. I’m writing several other books at the moment, but I’m not currently planning another viva preparation related book for this year – although there are some ideas that didn’t quite fit in Fail Your Viva.

So: coming soon, more podcasts, more questions asked about the viva – and if you have any particular questions, maybe now is a good time to ask them. I can’t make promises, but maybe we can find some answers.

It’s good to be back 🙂

Nathan

*sooner or later I’ll try to blog about the article. I had mixed feelings about the picture it painted of the viva…