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)

Episode 35: Dr Eljee Javier

In Episode 35 I talk to Dr Eljee Javier, who recently completed her PhD at the University of Manchester. Eljee’s research explored the experiences of visible ethnic minorities who were native English speakers and teaching English to non-native speakers. It was fascinating to hear about how she did her research, and to then hear about her viva preparations and her experience on the day.

Eljee’s blog is great, and she’s recently posted both on her preparations and on the big day as well. She has blogged a lot about her PhD journey, and you can find her on Twitter as @eljeejavier.

Let me know what you think of this episode, leave comments on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me – particularly if you want to appear in an episode of the podcast this year. And if you’re viewing this on a computer, look to the right and subscribe to get notifications when new episodes go live!

Thanks for listening! (and reading!)

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 31: Dr Katy Vigurs

In this episode I’m talking to Dr Katy Vigurs about her experiences as a postgraduate researcher and her viva. Katy’s research was in Partnership Working, and at times she researched for it both full and part time, as well as lecturing and being a parent. Katy completed her PhD at Staffordshire University, and continues to lecture there now, as well as supervise PhD and EdD students.

Please leave comments or questions on this post, drop me an email or just tweet @VivaSurvivors. The next episode, the first in a new specials series, debuts this Thursday, 4th December 2014.

Thanks for listening!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 30: Dr Murphy McCaleb

In this episode I talk with Dr Murphy McCaleb, PhD graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire. Murphy’s research area is Performance Studies, and his research focussed on ensemble performances. His viva was in February 2012, and he’s currently a lecturer at York St John University. He has also turned his thesis into a book and published it with Ashgate, and we had an interesting chat about that process.

As ever, please leave comments or questions on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me! If you’d like to support the Viva Survivors Podcast, then why not check out my ebooks?

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Viva Survivors Podcast: Patreon Campaign

I love making this podcast

I really do. This project grew out of a desire to help PhD candidates close to finishing their PhDs. I want them (you!) to realise that the viva is going to be OK – it’s not a mystery, there are real expectations to the viva, and consequently things that can be done to prepare. I hoped that by interviewing people from a variety of backgrounds this would come through.

After a while, I also began to think that it was an opportunity to share stories about what it is like to do research as a postgraduate researcher. Perhaps someone starting a PhD might listen to the podcast and find out what doing research is like – as well as hear about fascinating research. I love being able to hear about what people did for their PhD. There are currently 28 episodes in the archive, Episode 29 will be published on Monday 3rd November. I’m on track to hit my target of 32 episodes by the end of the year.

I want to do more: can you help?

In the last year I had to take time off from the podcast in order to adjust to becoming a dad! Now that I’ve stepped back up to it I’m enjoying it more than ever, and realising that I want to provide more. To help that process, I’ve created a Patreon campaign for the podcast. Patreon is a bit like Kickstarter, but whereas the latter is for a project that isn’t finished yet, Patreon is crowdfunding for ongoing efforts.

I’ve just started the campaign, but as support grows I’ll be able to spend more time on producing episodes, creating new content and expanding the output of the podcast. I have a couple of initial goals (like covering the cost of hosting, creating several pieces of writing each month and producing some focused tips-based episodes), but I also have big dreams. And I need your help to achieve both my goals and my dreams: providing a useful resource to postgraduate researchers in the UK and around the world.

So, can you help me?

If you can, great! The podcast will always be 100% free for everyone, and if you are able to become a Patron for the Viva Survivors Podcast then I can do some things to say thank you in return. I have a variety of things to begin with, like a “Thank You!” page of backers on the podcast, a pre-release notification that new content is coming to the site – and even early access to future episodes!

Patreon is straight-forward to set up, and it seems like a really useful way to support people creating things. Even if you don’t think that you can support the Viva Survivors Podcast at the moment, then have a look around and see what other amazing things people are doing.

Thanks for reading! I’ve really enjoyed the last two and a half years of producing the podcast, sharing the episodes and seeing it become a valuable resource. With your help I hope to continue this and do a lot more. Any help you can offer to support the Viva Survivors Podcast – by sharing the episodes, volunteering to share your story or becoming a Patron – is really appreciated.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)


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

The Podcast is 2 and my Ebook is 99p!

Viva Survivors Podcast turns 2!

Two things happened last Friday – the podcast turned two (Happy Birthday Viva Survivors Podcast!) – and the Twitter account for the podcast picked up its 1000th follower, which is kind of neat. So… What to do to celebrate this?

A special edition of the podcast where I invite everyone back to give updates? I wish I’d thought of that sooner.

A series of Google Hangouts where I look at various parts of the viva or preparation process? Not yet, but I’m thinking about that for August (message me if you’re interested!).

A bottle of champagne? A cup of tea?

For Four Days Only!

How about… Until midnight on Friday I drop the price of Fail Your Viva to 99p (and $2.99 in the US)?

This will run from 8am Tuesday 10th June 2014 (GMT in the UK and PST in the US) until  Friday 13th June 2014 at midnight in the appropriate time zones. If your viva is coming up and you’re looking for something concentrated to give you some idea of what to expect and what you can do to prepare, then give it a go. Ben Libberton of Literature Review HQ described it as “a great book to read cover to cover if you’re anxious about your viva.”

Thank You

Thanks for coming and listening to the podcast over the last few years, for all your help in helping me to share the stories of PhD graduates – and more recently for all your help with my research into the UK PhD viva experience. The results of that will  come out over the summer, and I’ll keep looking for an appropriate way to present things as I compile the results.

Many, many thanks to the Viva Survivors who have shared their stories for the podcast – you can see all of their names on the Archive page. They’re awesome and amazing for giving their time and being so willing to help others in this way. Thanks guys.

Now, all of you 1000+ Twitter followers: go and buy a copy of my ebook for 99p (or $2.99 in the US) and tell all your PhD friends to do the same! 😉

Until next time, thanks for reading – and thank you again for all of your support over the last two years.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

Episode 26: Dr George Julian

In this episode I’m talking to Dr George Julian, who completed a PhD in the Psychology of Special Education in 2003 at Cardiff University. George is the creator of VivaCards, a great little innovation in viva prep. As well as talking about her PhD and viva, we also had a chat about where these cards came from, how they might be used and what the reaction to them has been like. I bought myself a set last month and think they’re really cool: they’re great for either self-directed preparation or for helping others to ask you helpful questions.

If you’ve got any comments or questions about this or any episode, please get in touch! You can leave comments on all of the episode posts, drop me an email or tweet. I’m always looking for more people who would like to share their experiences – it would be great to hear from you.

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)