Ph.D. viva is surely an overwhelming experience; you are feeling happy about being a doctorate and you are nervous about the viva and you are dreading the panel and you are thinking what if you fail the viva, there is just so much running in your mind. But you must not let these thoughts consume you because at the end of the day, you will be passing out with shiny colors and you will be thinking yourself as a fool that you procrastinated so much, but we don’t blame you as well. The tension builds up; however, we have got some tips for you which will help you ace your viva. So, let’s get started!
Step One – The first step is to make an outline and schedule upon which you will be working to use your time
Step Two – The second step is to make sure that you revise the thesis and look out for small mistakes. Try keeping a note pad with you or reminder stickers to add where you seem. Start reading out the thesis and add the stickers where you think you will be asked questions and at the points where you need to clear out things. You can also add note stickers where you think you need to freshen up the references
Step Three – Once you have noted everything you need to do again, sit at your desk, open up the laptop and start working your way into it. Find the answers to the questions and write them down on the note stickers along with the questions so that you can revise them later and you can even go through them during the viva if you forget something
Step Four – Opt for the online question and answer series related to your thesis topic and prepare them. Make a list of the questions that you think are important and find answers for them. Then, learn the answers. While you are finding answers to the questions, you will realize that you have already talked about it in your thesis and that is the first indication that your thesis is up to the mark.
Step Five – Once done with the questions and answers, prepare an introductory presentation slides narrating the aim of research, methodologies, findings, and conclusions of the thesis. Once you have made the slides, vocalize them in front of the mirror as a rehearsal and it will also boost your confidence.
Step Six – Place bookmarks at the important parts
Step Seven – Invest some time in reading about the newly published papers related to the topic as you might be asked questions about them. Remember that right now, there is no teacher hovering you and you will be responsible to check the thesis for errors. Try adding notes where you think you have made errors as it will help you gain knowledge
Step Eight – Mock viva is the key to acing the real viva and you must consider it same as the real viva. We are saying this because mock viva will prepare you, so, revise everything and show up in the mock viva with full preparation
Step Nine – At the end of mock viva, you will be given feedback about the thesis. Your examiners may ask you to make some changes. At that time, the right thing to do is to make those changes because they will surely prove beneficial for you. Give up arguing on every point because it will not take you anywhere
Step Ten – After getting back, make the changes and prepare the questions and answers according to the updated thesis
Step Eleven – Once you have updated it, look out for some errors and typos (if any) to make sure that the final thesis is free from such mistakes. We are saying this because you don’t want the examiner to fill your thesis with red lines
Step Twelve – Before appearing in the viva, rehearse your presentation because it will be the first impression you are putting forth. If you have some friend and family, ask them to take your little quizzes as well to ensure complete preparation s
Step Thirteen – A night before the viva, prepare everything that you need to take with you i.e. copy of the thesis along with notes. Moreover, prepare your attire and have a backup for your commute to the venue
- Where did you draw the line on what you included in your literature review?
- Where did you draw the line on what you included in the theoretical literature?
- How did the literature inform your choice of topic and the thesis overall?
- What three publications would you say have been most influential in your work?
- Where does your work fit into the literature?
- Who are the key names in this area?
- Who are the project’s key influences?
- How does your work differ from theirs?
- Do the findings confirm, extend, or challenge any of the literature?
- How does your work connect to that of your reviewers?
Research Design and Methodology
- Summarise your research design.
- Did you think about applying a different design?
- What are the limitations of this kind of study?
- Is there anything novel in your method?
- What problems did you have?
- How did you develop your research questions?
- Did the research questions change over the course of the project?
- How did you translate the research questions into a data collection method?
- What are the philosophical assumptions in your work?
- Where are YOU in this study?
- Describe your sample.
- How did you recruit your sample?
- What boundaries did you set on your sample?
- What are the weaknesses of your sample?
- What boundaries did you set on your data collection?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your data?
- What other data would you like (or have liked) to collect?
- What is the theoretical framework in this study?
- Why did you choose this conceptual framework?
- Did you think about using any other theories, and if so, why did you reject them?
- What ethical procedures did you follow?
- What ethical issues arose in the course of your study and how did you address them?
- Describe your frame of analysis.
- How did you construct this framework?
- What didn’t you include in the framework?
- What problems did you have in the analysis?
- Did you combine induction and deduction in your analysis? Can you share some examples?
- Describe the findings in more detail.
- Briefly summarise the findings as they relate to each of the research questions.
- How do you think the theoretical framing was helpful? Can you share some examples?
- What other data could you have included, and what might it have contributed?
- Could the findings have been interpreted differently?
- What are the strengths and weakness of your study?
- What sense do you have of research being a somewhat untidy, or iterative and constantly shifting process?
- How confident are you in your findings and conclusions?
- What the implications of your findings?
- How has the context changed since you conducted your research?
- Where do your findings sit in the field in general?
- How do you see this area developing over the next 5-10 years?
- Where does your work fit within this?
- To whom is your work relevant?
- What haven’t you looked at, and why not?
- What, if any, of your findings, are generalizable?
- How would you like to follow this project up with further research?
- What would you publish from this research, and in which journals?
- How did the project change as you went through?
- How has your view of the area changed as you have progressed through your research?
- How did your thinking change over the course of the project?
- How have you changed as a result of undertaking this project?
- What did you enjoy about your project?
- What are you proudest of in the thesis?
- What were the most difficult areas?
- What surprised you the most?
- If you started this study again, what would you do differently?
Checklist For A Night Before
- Blank paper and working Pen
- Presentation slides printed
- List of corrections
- Double-sided notes
- Detailed Question notes (just in case?)
Keep in the bag:
- List of recent papers published
- All my published papers
- Spare pen and notebook
- Tissue pack
- Chewing gum
- Cash: £20