Firstly, a huge apology for the delay! Secondly, I am *actually finished* – properly finished(!) with a robe hired for January and everything…! Needless the say the reason this post is so late is because I have just had the busiest 4 weeks of my life!
Was OK! My preparation was reading my thesis thoroughly, but little else, because I wanted it to become a steep learning exercise. As my supervisor proclaimed afterwards: I ‘winged it’ 😉 HOWEVER, it did really highlight the gaps in my knowledge and gave me direction as to what to brush up on for the real thing.
Preparing for the REAL VIVA
Because of job applications (definitely not enough space to explain all those here…!), I allocated myself a week for ‘viva preparation’. Many people might say this is not long enough… most people I spoke to gave themselves at least 2 weeks. I felt comfortable with this amount of time following my mock viva, and I think the best advice I could give would be to leave yourself enough time that you are able to do enough that makes you feel confident.
Based on how my viva went (definately a separate blog post!), I’ve come up with a Dos and Don’ts list to preparing for your viva.
1) Read your thesis carefully. Never underestimate the value of spotting the typos your examiners are keen to point out.
2) Have a mock viva with a supervisor, post-doc, advisory panel, course co-ordinator… anyone who can spare you the time.
3) Re-read those key papers
4) Read around the research areas of your examiners, can you pre-empt any questions about how your research links to theirs?
5) Prepare some answers to genereal questions. i.e. What is the most important outcome of your research? How does your research impact this subject area? Please summarise your main findings in a timeline of events… etc. (I posted some resources on my last blog post)
1) PANIC! Your examiners are there to find out more about how or why you did experiments, not to catch you out (I wish I had followed my own advice on this one!)
2) Not prepare. “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell
3) Forget. This is YOUR project, YOUR hard work, and YOUR ideas. Noone knows YOUR PhD as well as you.