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Postgraduate Research Forum “The viva examination – a personal reflection.” 18 May 2011 Dr. Andrew Scott Crines -

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Presentation on theme: "Postgraduate Research Forum “The viva examination – a personal reflection.” 18 May 2011 Dr. Andrew Scott Crines -"— Presentation transcript:

1 Postgraduate Research Forum “The viva examination – a personal reflection.” 18 May 2011 Dr. Andrew Scott Crines -

2 Outline of Presentation This presentation is a personal reflection. – They can differ from person to person! It is a summary of some key events from just before submission up to and beyond the viva. Revision. It includes a brief summary of: – The viva. – The decision. – The amendments. – The subsequent outcomes.

3 The Final Stages The final year of the PhD, the write up of the thesis. – Revising it continually. “All*” arguments and potential holes addressed. Answers to difficult questions prepared. – Pre-empting the viva questions. – Removing “all*” typing errors. – Checking the format criteria with the Research Office. – Placing the print order with 'Printing Services'. Handing it in to the Research Office. *It's impossible to ever find them all!

4 The Final Stages Researching the examiners. – Find out the research interests of the examiners. – Read up on their recent publications and interest. – Ensure their positions do not contradict yours. Re-read your thesis. – Make revision notes from it. – Make a list of all your typos and errors. Two mock vivas – very valuable. – Main supervisor. – Someone familiar with your research. – Ensure they know not to 'go easy'.

5 The Final Stages The week before the viva. – No domestic or professional stress if possible. – No alcohol. – No sex(!) – If stressed, avoid emotionally challenging entertainment. Torchwood! Battlestar Galactica. EastEnders – Focus on all your arguments rather than specifics. IE: know your positions.

6 The Day of the Viva Ensure you have a bottle of wine (or other treat!) ready and waiting for you at home. Arrange to have a meeting with your supervisor approximately one hour before the viva. Arrive at the University about two hours before the viva starts. – For breakfast/lunch/dinner with a friend. After your meeting with the supervisor, walk to the room of the viva together, going over very last tactics. The stage is set, the actors are in place, the performance begins!

7 The Viva Itself My viva lasted 45 minutes. During that time I was asked: – What my premise was. – Why did I want to spend 3 years researching politics. – So what? – What did I get out of it? Was there a journey of learning and development – And I was asked to justify my arguments. The only way to justify my arguments was to know them inside out.

8 The Viva Itself SOME battles are worth losing. But these aren't: – Defend your methodology. – Defend your conclusions. – Demonstrate you are capable of developing your research. The examiners are not there to fail you. – They're there to make sure you can defend yourself in the real academic world. – And that the thesis is your own work.

9 The Viva Itself After the discussion, I was asked to leave the room for 10 minutes. During that time, my supervisor and I talked about likely outcomes. – We predicted about three months of amendments. After the ten minutes had passed, we returned to the room. The examiners then informed me that the award would be made minor corrections to the text. – The amendments were to correct the typos. I thought I had 38. They found over 200! – And that I write 300 words summing up one chapter.

10 After the Viva Feeling of euphoria. – But the amendments had to be done. – Did not want to wait long as they were so small. – So completed the amendments within 3 days. The revised thesis was emailed as a PDF to the Research Office and later accepted by the internal. And the award confirmed! The certificate then arrived less than 30 days after the viva. Graduation then scheduled for July.

11 Summary The viva was the scariest event I ever anticipated. – Worse than any panel interview. – Worse than any hospital operation(!) – Worse than any dentist appointment(!) But despite the fear, the event itself wasn't very scary. Why? – Because I followed my supervisors advice. – Revised my thesis very hard. – Prepared by having mock vivas. – I researched who my examiners were well in advance.

12 Summary Was the four years of pain and worry worth it? – Yes! Since the viva, I have never been busier! – Journal articles. – Teaching. – Conference proposals. – Preparing the thesis for publication. – Reviewing books for the PSA Review Journal. – And job search! – Any questions?

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