Boards.ie uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Click here to find out more x
Post Reply  
 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
09-10-2007, 09:52   #16
H2G2
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 612
Viva preparation guide

As a followup to my last post, below is a preparation sheet I give my students – it may help some of you (I have removed the domain specific stuff)

Preparation
  • Dress code – look smart
  • Get your ‘head straight’.
  • Drop all “uncertainty baggage” before the Viva day
  • Remember
    • You cannot anticipate everything the examiners will ask
    • They are not only testing your knowledge of the area but also of advancing it.
  • Think - are there any questions that have occurred frequently during the research, during discussions, during conferences?
  • Every ‘weakness’ has its own corrective measure. Limitations can be explained as sensible decisions within the research process.
  • Know your way through the pages of your thesis
  • Be able to find figures, graphics, sections without difficulty
  • Read thesis - All of it (again)
    • Write prompt / reminder notes on separate sheet
    • Label each chapter for easy access
  • Bring tissues, paracetemol, water, etc.
Essential materials
  • References
    • List of most popular citations in thesis
    • The five most influential authors in your area...
  • OHP slides for drawing essential diagrams / figures
  • OHP pens
  • Your copy of your thesis (with your prompts written in)
    • Do you remember key points
Questions – ‘Usual Suspects’
  • What have you done that merits a PhD?
  • Summarise your thesis in 3 minutes?
  • Origin of work
    • How did you choose this topic?
    • How did you become involved in this research area? (evolution of the core idea)
  • New about work
    • What's original about your work?
    • What are the novel aspects of your work - or innovative aspects?
    • What are the contributions (to knowledge) of your thesis?
  • Are there any drawbacks to your methods/work/findings?
  • Can you talk through the results as illustrated in network diagram(s)
  • What is the relevance of your contributions? - to other researchers? - to industry?
  • The future
    • What are researchers in this area offered?
    • Implications for future work?
    • Where does it go from here? What are the plans for this work?
Other Questions
  • The examiners could also ask you about literature not in the thesis, to test whether you are widely-read in the area
  • What are the applications of this research in the ‘Real World’
  • What do you feel is the most important aspect for further work?
  • What are the novel aspects of your work and what have you contributed?
  • Explain what is happening in Table x.y or the meaning of Figure x.z?
  • Have you any questions to ask us (the examiners) before the examination concludes?
  • Methodology
    • What are the advantages of your approach?
    • What are the disadvantages of your approach?
    • What is wrong with approach X?
Tips
  • Listen to the questions and take your time answering them
  • Try to make your answers initially inclusive (spot overlaps), analytical, and then if appropriate dismissive or point out the limitations - and the effects of these limits.
  • Prepare answer to generic viva questions
  • Handling difficult questions
    • Keep your head - Don’t fight with them
    • If you don't understand the question, ask for clarification.
    • Paraphrase the question in your own words and say, ‘is this what you mean?’
    • If they have a misconception about your work, try to pin it down and explain it.
    • If you think the question is irrelevant, explain why you think it is irrelevant (it may be that you need to be more broad-minded).
    • If you really can't answer a question:
      • Be honest.
      • If you have any idea at all, say it.
      • Say, ‘I can't answer this on the spot, but I c/should be able to work it out in my own time’
      • If it's about literature you haven't come across, thank the examiner and ask for a reference.
H2G2 is offline  
Advertisement
10-10-2007, 08:57   #17
fits
Registered User
 
fits's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 9,599
Great post! Thanks! (sticky candidate.)

Congrats to the OP...

I've heard of people failing vivas too. My own supervisor failed one a few months ago in the UK. I know of one guy who had to do four vivas... I think he got caught up in politics between departments which probably didnt help....

I'm hoping to have one paper published (it already is), two accepted (they've been submitted) and another submitted by the time my Viva comes round... so the majority of the work will already have been peer reviewed.

Last edited by fits; 10-10-2007 at 09:00.
fits is offline  
10-10-2007, 09:49   #18
Red Alert
Hosted Moderator
 
Red Alert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,364
HMod: LaTeX
Thread stickied! Thanks to H2G2 for all the info and best of luck to everyone nearing theirs
Red Alert is offline  
21-10-2007, 13:34   #19
Esmereldina
Registered User
 
Esmereldina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 439
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Alert View Post
Congrats & enjoy the night after that! When's yours coming up Esmereldina?

Well , I just handed the thesis in last week So hopefully I'll have the viva in the next couple of months... will let you all know how I get on.
Ps Thanks for all the advice H2G2!
Esmereldina is offline  
29-11-2007, 22:06   #20
cruiserweight
Registered User
 
cruiserweight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,894
Quick update, I have my graduation next Thursday

A couple of other bits of advice. After your viva allow time for corrections and administration to process paperwork before you expect to graduate. My corrections only took a day or so, just took admin a while to deal with it
cruiserweight is offline  
Advertisement
11-12-2007, 17:32   #21
NextSteps
Registered User
 
NextSteps's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 957
Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiserweight View Post
Quick update, I have my graduation next Thursday
Sometimes I close my eyes and picture my graduation, like little girls picture their wedding. I hate to admit that.
NextSteps is offline  
(2) thanks from:
11-12-2007, 18:09   #22
fits
Registered User
 
fits's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 9,599
me too!
fits is offline  
11-01-2008, 10:19   #23
Turbulent Bill
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,523
I had mine recently (passed!), so I'll give my impressions while they're fresh in the mind. Firstly, I can't over-emphasise the importance of going through the entire thesis again, and looking for areas of possible discussion. This includes fundamental theory (if it's in eng/science/maths), which you might normally take for granted, as well as your own work. The idea is to probe your basic understanding and assumptions in the field as well as your novel stuff.

Secondly, you may be asked to apply your knowledge to something you haven't actually covered in the thesis, thinking on your feet. Again, this is to test your understanding and skill. It's fine if you're stumped (I was plenty of times!) as the examiners are more interested in your thought processes than getting the right answer.

I hope this doesn't sound too intimidating, it's not supposed to be. H2G2's guide above is an excellent starting point. Find out well in advance how the viva will be conducted and do plenty of preparation. You can't anticipate everything, but it makes life easier. Overall, try to enjoy it. The time flies, and it's great to see experts in your field genuinely impressed with your work.

Good luck!
Turbulent Bill is offline  
11-01-2008, 10:20   #24
Red Alert
Hosted Moderator
 
Red Alert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,364
HMod: LaTeX
Congrats everyone
Red Alert is offline  
Advertisement
29-01-2008, 09:46   #25
RE*AC*TOR
Registered User
 
RE*AC*TOR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 7,243
Just passed mine last week. Was hugely apprehensive beforehand. However, it couldn't have went much better. The extern essentially said that it was a formality and that he was happy with the standard of the research.

Huge weight off now.
RE*AC*TOR is offline  
29-01-2008, 09:53   #26
Dr Strange
Registered User
 
Dr Strange's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2,962
Quote:
Originally Posted by RE*AC*TOR View Post
Just passed mine last week. Was hugely apprehensive beforehand. However, it couldn't have went much better. The extern essentially said that it was a formality and that he was happy with the standard of the research.

Huge weight off now.
Congrats! Hope my extern will be as easy-going.
Dr Strange is offline  
09-02-2008, 00:34   #27
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by fits View Post
Great post! Thanks! (sticky candidate.)

Congrats to the OP...

I've heard of people failing vivas too. My own supervisor failed one a few months ago in the UK. I know of one guy who had to do four vivas... I think he got caught up in politics between departments which probably didnt help....

I'm hoping to have one paper published (it already is), two accepted (they've been submitted) and another submitted by the time my Viva comes round... so the majority of the work will already have been peer reviewed.
Hi there...
For everyone in the throws of writing their PhD or getting ready to defend it I must say the book by Rowena Murray is excellent. Its called How to survive your viva.

RE: failing viva's. It is not uncommon to fail a viva, however if the supervisor has done his/her job properly it should not get to that stage. Once you get to viva stage it indicates that your supervisor is happy that it is of a PhD standard (though I was an internal examiner for a PhD where the student 'pressurised' the supervisor into sending it to the internal examinerand unfortunately she shouldn't have done that as even after the second resub\mit I would not put my name to it as an internal examiner).

When doing your viva - read your thesis (bring it in with you to the viva). Remember this might be the only time when someone has read your thesis (besides your supervisor) in its entirety so enjoy the discussion.

Wish you all the best of luck.
rummy is offline  
Thanks from:
08-08-2009, 22:10   #28
Max001
Registered User
 
Max001's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 854
Hiya

Not quite at Phd level yet

Is it fair to assume that a social sciences research masters
viva wouldn't be as demanding as a Phd viva?

Thanks for any advice. My supervisor has told me a viva
at this level is really just to make sure you've done the work
yourself........does that sound right?

Cheers
Max001 is offline  
25-10-2009, 11:41   #29
magneticimpulse
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,807
was just reading these posts today. i think if you get to viva stage, you have pretty much passed. i know of people who's phd was stopped after 1 year or even someone who had their phd extended 1 year and they did not have an opportunity to get to the viva stage. im in the motions of trying to get motivated writing. im motivated during the week, but still doing lab work so its difficult to focus.

thanks for the advance. it also helps starting to write...what are people really looking for, and therefore trying to answer these questions in the thesis.

im in france so ive to do a public presentation. i dont know which is more scary, in a room with 3 people or in front of everyone in your university, examiners and family. ill try not think about that bit yet
magneticimpulse is offline  
25-10-2009, 12:34   #30
cruiserweight
Registered User
 
cruiserweight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,894
Quote:
Originally Posted by magneticimpulse View Post
im in france so ive to do a public presentation. i dont know which is more scary, in a room with 3 people or in front of everyone in your university, examiners and family. ill try not think about that bit yet
I have heard unofficially that a public viva can be to your benefit, in that examiners are less likely to ask you any extremely probing or difficult questions that may cause embarassment
cruiserweight is offline  
Post Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Remove Text Formatting
Bold
Italic
Underline

Insert Image
Wrap [QUOTE] tags around selected text
 
Decrease Size
Increase Size
Please sign up or log in to join the discussion

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



Share Tweet