Episode 16: Dr David McGrogan

In this episode I talk to Dr David McGrogan, who recently had the viva for his PhD in international law. Dave is my best friend, and I’ve been asking him since I started the podcast whether or not he would be willing to come on eventually and talk about his experiences. He recently took up a position at Northumbria University in the School of Law.

If you’ve got questions or comments, then leave them on this post, tweet @VivaSurvivors or email me – particularly if you would like to share your story on the podcast.

And finally, if you’ve read “Fail Your Viva – Twelve Steps To Failing Your PhD (And Fifty-Eight Tips For Passing)” then please get in touch, I’d love to know what you think!

Episode 15: Dr Carrie Birch

In this episode I talk to Dr Carrie Birch, who completed a PhD in education in 2010. Carrie did her PhD part time at the University of Sheffield, and it was really interesting to talk to her about what she did for her PhD and how she did it. You can find her on Twitter as @carriebirch.

In the podcast Carrie mentions some articles that she read to help her prepare for the viva; she has been kind enough to send me a list to share here.

Leshem, S. (2007). Thinking about conceptual frameworks in a research community of practice: a case of a doctoral programme. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 44(3).
Leshem, S., & Trafford, V. (2007). Overlooking the conceptual framework Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 44(1), 93-105.
Pearce, L. (2005). How to examine a thesis. Maidenhead: Open University – McGraw-Hill.
Trafford, V. (2003). ‘Questions in Doctoral Vivas: Views from the Inside’. Quality Assurance in Education, 11(2), 114 -122.
Trafford, V., & Leshem, S. (2008). Stepping stones to achieving your doctorate. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.
Trafford, V., & Leshem, S. (2009). Doctorateness as a threshold concept. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 46(3).

If you have any comments or questions then please get in touch: follow @VivaSurvivors on Twitter, or email me. If you would like to share your viva story then definitely get in touch!

And if you have your viva coming up, take a look at my first book, “Fail Your Viva – Twelve Steps To Failing The PhD (And Fifty-Eight Tips For Passing)” – on sale exclusively in the Kindle Store for now, but a print-on-demand edition is coming!

Fail Your Viva ebook!

As you can see on this page, I have released an ebook about viva preparation!

Fail Your Viva is my first ebook, and something that I have been working on for some time, along with a few other writing projects. Recently I was offered the chance to be a participant in an online course about self-publishing via the Kindle Store. I realised very quickly that there was not much stopping me from publishing.

I’m very excited to have a book out there, and if you’ve read it and have comments do let me know. If you have the time to rate it and write a review on the Kindle Store that would be great!

The cover of my ebook!
The cover of my ebook!

Episode 13: Dr Liz Walder

In the first episode of 2013 I talk with Dr Liz Walder, who had the viva for her PhD in Architectural History at the end of November. It was really great to talk to her about her viva, and also to hear about her experience as a part time research student. Liz has some materials on the Royal Institute of British Architects website about the Royal Gold Medal, the subject of her thesis. You can find her on Twitter as @WalderWit.

Any questions or comments? Then please leave them in the comments below! If you’d like to be on a future podcast or have ideas for any special episodes that might be cool to do then please email me. Also tell your friends and colleagues about the podcast: you can find it on Twitter at @VivaSurvivors.

Note: there is a little distortion/fuzziness at a few points in the audio for this episode, sorry about that! Hope it doesn’t spoil your listening experience.

Happy New Year!

I hope that you all had a great Christmas and New Year!

2012 was a great year for the podcast.

I really enjoyed talking with all of my interviewees, and hearing about their experiences during their PhDs and vivas. It’s been wonderful to share these stories and to see the number of visitors to the site increasing month-on-month; thank you to everyone who has emailed or tweeted me to ask questions, share thoughts and volunteer to be part of the podcast. Your contributions are very welcome and much appreciated. It is really great to hear that people are finding something of value in the episodes.

So, 2013!

12 episodes in 2012, so 13 episodes in 2013? No way! My goal is for there to be at least 40 episodes in the archive by the end of the year – and for there to be more research areas, backgrounds and current roles represented too. I want this site and the podcast to grow into an even more valuable resource for postgraduate researchers. I’m planning to run special episodes a few times this year: the first will be about the academic job market and it should be up on the site (schedules permitting) within the next few weeks. I’m also hoping to record a special with people who have experience of being viva examiners.

If you’d like to be part of either of these special podcasts, have questions that you’d like answered in them or have ideas for future special podcasts then please get in touch, either email me, or tweet the @VivaSurvivors Twitter account! And if you would like to be part of a regular episode, sharing your PhD and viva experience, or if you have ideas for other features on the site, let me know – it would be great to hear from you!

Thank You

If you’ve been listening, thank you. If you’ve been tweeting/retweeting about the podcast, thank you. Thank you to all of the “Viva Survivors” who have shared their stories so far. Thanks in advance to everyone who comes on the podcast this year!


PS – Episode 13 will be live on Monday morning (7th January 2013), featuring Dr Liz Walder (@WalderWit) talking about her research and viva!

Episode 12: Dr Dawn Llewellyn

In this episode I talk to Dr Dawn Llewellyn, who did her PhD at Lancaster University and now lectures at the University of Chester. Dawn’s research was in Christian and Post-Christian women’s spiritual reading practices, and as always it was fascinating to hear about someone who has had such a radically different experience of research to me. Dawn had some great advice about preparing for the viva, and had an interesting story to tell about her viva. She is on Twitter, and you can find her at @DawnLlewellyn.

Any questions or comments? Then please let me know, either through the comments below or by dropping me an email. You can find the podcast on Twitter, if you haven’t already, by following @VivaSurvivors. Hopefully there will be at least one more podcast before Christmas, and if you would like to share your PhD and viva story on a future episode then please get in touch!

Episode 11: Dr Claire Savy

Dr Claire Savy did her PhD in neurotoxicology at Newcastle University, and her viva was less than a month ago! She is currently working at the University of Leeds as a Researcher Training and Development Project Officer; Claire is working on the organisation of the Postgraduate Research Conference and is responsible for the Thesis Twitter Conference and the conference’s Twitter feed: @UoLPGconference.

Claire had a lot of great advice on viva preparation. She spent a lot of time preparing, and I know that people are going to find her story valuable – particularly practising answering questions out loud to get used to talking about her thesis in a certain way.

If you have questions or comments about this or any of the podcasts then please get in touch, either through the comments, on email or via the Viva Survivors Twitter account: @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 10: Dr Katy Shaw

In this episode I’m interviewing Dr Katy Shaw, who is the Subject Leader for English Literature and a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at the University of Brighton. Katy is also the Director of C21: Centre for research in twenty-first century writings. She completed her PhD at Lancaster University in 2007 and her thesis was on cultural representations of the 1980s UK Miners Strike. Following on from the last podcast it was great to hear more from someone whose PhD research is in such a different area to mine. As an early career researcher Katy had lots to say about life as an academic, and shared some valuable advice for PhD students too. Katy can be found on Twitter as @DrKatyShaw.

Please leave comments below! And if you’re happy to, then please tweet and share the site and podcast with others. I’m slightly shocked that we’ve reached ten episodes already, it seems like yesterday that I was just getting things rolling. I wonder when we’ll hit 25? (which feels like the next milestone) If you would like to be on the podcast then please get in touch, either by emailing me or by sending a tweet in the direction of @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 9: Dr Nadine Muller

In Episode 9 I’m talking with Dr Nadine Muller, a lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University. She received her PhD in English Literature from the University of Hull earlier this year for her thesis “The Feminist Politics of Neo-Victorian Literature, 2000-2010”. It was really great talking to Nadine about her research and her viva, as her field is something really different to my PhD research, and to the research of other interviewees in other Viva Survivors podcasts so far.

Nadine also has a great interest in supporting postgraduate and early-career researchers, so we had a lot to talk about. She is the creator of the #phdadvice hashtag on Twitter, a community sharing their experience of postgraduate research. Her Twitter handle is @Nadine_Muller.

Any questions or comments? Let me know, either drop me an email or leave them below. Share your postgraduate experience and advice with Nadine’s #phdadvice hashtag. And keep track of the podcast on Twitter by following @VivaSurvivors!

Ask The Audience 1

I’ve been asking a lot of questions recently via the @VivaSurvivors Twitter account. I wanted to know about the experiences of PhD graduates, even if that meant polling people in 140 characters or less. I had an inkling that people would share some really great advice. I was right! I’ll collect answers and share them on the blog over the next few weeks as I ask more questions. To start us off:

“What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about the viva?”

@NextScientist gave an encouraging reply:

I asked this question again yesterday, and thanks to some signal amplification from @Nadine_Muller I got some more great responses:

All of which is great advice! Thanks to everyone for sharing. I particularly like the advice from Selena Daly: the viva really is the longest time you’ll get to talk about your PhD research in that depth. With that in mind you can hopefully approach your viva with the same passion you’ve approached your research for the last three (four, five…) years!

More questions to come soon. If you have any more thoughts, then please continue the conversation in the comments. And if you have more questions about the viva, what are they? Let me know!