Episode 7: Dr Andy Hoyle and Dr Louise Hoyle

In this episode I talk to some married friends of mine, the Drs Hoyle! Dr Andy Hoyle graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2006 with a PhD in Mathematical Biology; Dr Louise Hoyle finished her postgraduate research this year, completing her PhD in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Stirling.

We’ve been trying to arrange an interview time for a while now; I thought it would be really interesting to chat with them about their research and also about their experience of having a partner who was doing postgraduate research. It was lots of fun talking to Andy and Louise, I hope you enjoy listening to it. They had lots of good advice for both the PhD and the viva.

Episode 8 should be along in the next few weeks; I’m still looking for interesting ideas for future podcasts and interviewees. Drop me an email, leave comments on the episodes and make sure you’re following the Twitter feed for announcements: @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 6: Dr Helena Mihaljevic-Brandt

In this episode I’m talking with Dr Helena Mihaljevic-Brandt, a PhD maths graduate who did her research at the University of Liverpool and now lives in Berlin. She works as an editor for Zentralblatt MATH, an online reviewing database of mathematics papers. Helena’s research area was holomorphic dynamics – I know a little about that because she used to sit at the next desk to mine at Liverpool!

It has been a few years since I last caught up properly with Helena, and it was great to do so for Viva Survivors. I was really interested to hear her perspective and her PhD journey; I was curious about what it was like for her to do her postgraduate research in a foreign country, and what it was like to then return home to take up a research post.

I hope you enjoy Helena’s podcast as much as I did recording it with her! Check back soon on Viva Survivors for more podcasts and maybe a couple of surprises; as always, please feel free to leave comments or drop me an email, and make sure you’re following the site’s Twitter feed for updates and announcements: @VivaSurvivors.

Coming Soon

As I’ve been tweeting, the next episode should be recorded later today; with any luck I will be editing that tomorrow, and then it should go up on Wednesday or Thursday. I’m interviewing another maths colleague, but perhaps someone who had a different experience to the two mathematicians that I have talked with so far. I’ll tweet loudly when the podcast is released!

I’m also still mulling over what else might be interesting to have on the site: I’m looking for ideas of what might be really valuable for people who are preparing for their viva, or perhaps just things that might be a bit inspiring. If anyone has any ideas then do comment or email and let me know. I’m also looking to widen awareness of Viva Survivors by writing articles on preparing for the viva for University PGR-related blogs. If you would like a top 5 tips or similar then get in touch.

And as ever, follow on Twitter for announcements and updates: @VivaSurvivors

What Else?

Last week I tweeted, asking

I’ve got one response so far:

This is definitely something that is in my mind, and I’m going to look around my contacts and see who has experience that they can share.

I’ve also been thinking about sharing some funny viva-related pieces. Many of you might be familiar with PhD Comics, which I am sure has had some viva-related humour in the past. As well as that I was forwarded a really funny piece of thesis examination preparation, care of McSweeney’s, “FAQ: The Snake Fight Portion Of Your Thesis Defence“.

Q: Would someone who wrote a bad thesis and defeated a large snake get the same grade as someone who wrote a good thesis and defeated a small snake?
A: Yes.

You can go and read the rest of it here – I am extremely thankful that I defended my thesis in the UK, where you simply have to know a couple of sets of Morris Dancing, rather than have to fight a snake!

To come back to my main question though: what else might be good to include in the podcast or on this site? What helpful resources or conversations could I try to provide? Let me know in the comments or email me!

Episode 5: Dr Ben Libberton

In this episode I’m talking with Dr Ben Libberton, who runs the website Literature Review HQ. Ben completed his PhD in Microbial Ecology last year, and recently graduated from the University of Liverpool. As well as running his site, he holds a post-doc in Electrical Engineering.

It was great chatting with Ben, particularly because of his continuing interest in things relating to postgraduate researchers. His site has some great resources, so please go and check it out. He’s also on Twitter: @litreviewhq.

Viva Survivors will be back soon with another episode! I have several interviewees in the pipeline, including a couple which will make for slightly out of the ordinary podcasts. If you have ideas and thoughts for future episodes, even for doing something different (whatever that might be!) then please get in touch. As ever, follow me on Twitter at @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 3: Dr Jennifer Cromwell

After a delay of several weeks Viva Survivors is back!

In Episode 3 I talk with Dr Jennifer Cromwell, who earned her PhD in Egyptology from the University of Liverpool in 2008. Jenny is a Macquarie University Research Fellow at Macquarie University in Sydney, and we had our conversation with a nine hour time difference! Jenny had lots to say about her experience as a postgraduate researcher and a really interesting viva story.

I was really interested to hear about her experience as an early career researcher, and she shared some valuable insights from her career so far.

Keep checking back for details of the next episode of Viva Survivors, which will be up hopefully by the weekend! You can follow the podcast on Twitter at @VivaSurvivors – and please RT and share the podcast and site with others that you think will be interested.

Episodes 1 and 2 Comments

I am not entirely sure why the comments didn’t work for the first two podcast posts, but they seem to be working well enough for future posts. So if you have any comments or questions for Episode 1, featuring Dr Shaine Bushell, or Episode 2 with Dr Anna Tarrant then please write them here! Thanks.

Also you can follow me on Twitter, @VivaSurvivors, or email if you want to with any questions or comments.

Episode 2: Dr Anna Tarrant

In Episode 2 of Viva Survivors I talk with Dr Anna Tarrant, who had her viva last year for her PhD in social geography at Lancaster University. Anna is a Research Associate at the Open University, and is also the Managing Editor of PhD2Published, a site that

“offers a wealth of hints and tips for early-career academics on how to get published as well providing discussion on the future of academic publishing in the e-age”.

PhD2Published looks really cool, and they also have a weekly livechat over Twitter using the hashtag #acwri.

Episode 1 of Viva Survivors is here, and the next episode of Viva Survivors will be along some time in the next ten days; check back for details, or follow us on Twitter: @VivaSurvivors.

Episode 1: Dr Shaine Bushell

In the first episode of Viva Survivors I’m talking with Dr Shaine Bushell, PhD maths graduate of the University of Liverpool and now the Mathematics Enhancement Course Leader at the University of Chester.

Shaine and I were officemates during my PhD, and we’ve remained close friends ever since. It was great to interview him for Viva Survivors, and really interesting to hear the story of how he came to be a researcher, how he prepared for his viva, what happened and what he has been doing since then.

Episode 2 of Viva Survivors is up right now! For details of future episodes, be sure to follow us on Twitter: @VivaSurvivors.