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****!**V.I.V.A !*****

Congratulations Dr Sheena!!! Well done :-)

I passed my viva!!!

Thanks everyone, it seems to have sunk in a bit more now and I'm just so happy to have it all done now :-)

Sorry @Chuff, here's some detail...

I'm in Biological Sciences, so I think 3.5 hours is pretty normal. They started off by saying that they thought the thesis was well written and an interesting study. Then they asked me to give a summary of my work, which I was pretty much expecting.

Each examiner had a list of things they wanted to discuss, so we went through the thesis to each page where they wanted to discuss something, or had a query. They said they were more interested in discussing the work rather than pointing out typos so we left the list of typos until the end when we briefly went through them - I had taken in my own list, which they appreciated me doing, and said that there weren't many typos/mistakes and that it was definitely at the lower end of the scale compared to other theses they had examined (so I owe big thanks to my family who were great at checking for typos for me!).

I had some tough questioning about some of my experimental design, but I had expected this and had a good counter-argument which my examiners found very convincing (thank goodness!!!). We also had some good conversations about some of my interpretations of results and it was really nice to have the opportunity to spend a really good amount of time debating my work with other experts, but mainly they wanted to check my understanding of what I had done and why I had done it...I now understand why people say you can't really prepare for your viva in a few weeks before. It's too late by then - all the preparation is done during your PhD as you go along.

The time went really quickly and although it was mentally draining and I was knackered afterwards, it was a really rewarding experience as I have much more confidence in my own knowledge and abilities. Right up to walking into the viva I was still scared of being revealed as a "fraud" who didn't really know anything - a common feeling among PhDers I know! But the viva let me prove to myself that I really do know what I'm talking about :$

To prepare I just re-read my thesis a couple of times. Once to remind myself of the detail of some of my arguments and the other time to check for typos. I had also checked for any new papers that had been published since I submitted.

Once we had gone through the thesis I was asked to leave the room whilst they decided on their recommendation, and after about 5 mins they called me back in to say I had passed, providing I corrected the list of typos. I think I may have resembled a Cheshire cat at that point!!!

Then we all went into my supervisors office and cracked open a bottle of bubbly that my supervisor had hidden in our office fridge


I passed my viva!!!

I don't think I've ever been so nervous in my life, but it turned out to be a really constructive (dare I say enjoyable?!) 3.5 hours of positive discussion about my work. I've got a few corrections to make, but nothing major.

I'm still a bit in shock about it all as I'd prepared myself for it to be horrible, but it wasn't. I secretly thought the people that said they enjoyed their vivas were nutcases, but now I get it! ,-)

I don't post here very often, but as others have said in the past, this forum has been a source of a lot of help and support over the past few years, so it's nice to be able to post a positive story :-)

All the best, especially to those preparing for their vivas!
Amy :-)

Viva preparation book

Fantastic! Have PM'd you - thanks :-)

Viva preparation book

======= Date Modified 22 Nov 2010 15:20:53 =======

I remember reading in a thread that someone had a pdf version of the viva prep book that everyone recommends (the Tinkler one). I can't remember who it was, but my viva is just over a week away, so if anyone has it and doesn't mind sending me a copy, I'd be eternally grateful! :-)

Many thanks in advance


Thanks, sounds like good advice. A bit of time away from the thesis is probably just what I need.

I'm hoping I'll feel like celebrating by the weekend ;-)

just. handed. in.

Congrats Sim! I know how good that feels - I did the same thing today myself!!!

Don't even think about all the viva, job, publication stuff until after the weekend...we deserve to celebrate before worrying about all of that!

Well done (up)


So, after 4 long and often arduous years, I've finally finished my thesis. It feels odd.

I thought I'd never feel ready to submit. A friend who's a few months ahead in the whole process told me when I started fiddling rather than making useful changes then it was time to hand it in. Turns out they were right. I got to the stage where I just kept checking it and making small, unimportant changes here and there, and I realised that it was done.

I thought I'd feel a massive sense of relief and elation, but instead I don't know what to do with myself now and it all feels a bit anti-climactic. I think the gap between now and my viva is going to leave me in limbo a bit.

I'm sure once I've been out a celebrated properly at the weekend with friends it will feel a bit more real and a bit more of an occasion.

Is this normal, did others feel like this after submitting?

searching for papers


How did yesterday go? :-)

Do you have to pay Journals to publish your articles?

I don't know about other areas, but certainly in the lifesciences, it is common to have to pay fees for publications, even in topflight, peer reviewed, subscription only journals, for things such as the number of images in the paper, and particularly if you want colour images etc. So even journals that rake the money in from extortionate subscriptions still make money from the authors too.

Open access is becoming more commonplace in biomed sciences, with some funding bodies insisting that publications from research they fund is published as open access, even if it is published in a subscription only journal, meaning the cost is picked up from the author (or more often the funding body).

I agree you as research student shouldn't have to pick up the bill for publishing, your institute or funding body should, but I wouldn't necessarily be put off by open access - the same peer review process should still be in place. I think impact factor, more than whether something is open access or not, has more of an effect on the perception of a journal.


help viva monday!

======= Date Modified 04 Sep 2010 18:00:59 =======
Hi Micromachine,

I can access this paper. If you message me your email address I can send it to you.


quick question on thesis structure...

Just a suggestion, but could you split it into 2 sub-chapters? Have one large intro section that introduces it all, then separate it so it makes the most sense. Because it's strictly all in one chapter, there's nothing wrong with all the cross-referencing you need to do, but being in sub-sections it splits it up and makes it seem a bit more managable for the examiners to read.

There is no wrong or right way to do it, and it's really hard to second guess what the examiners will think is the best way of structuring it, so in the end, just go with what ever you think makes the most sense.

I've had so much trouble trying to structure my chapters, and at only a month from submission I'm still moving things around, so I know how frustrating it can be- good luck!

PhD Studentships & Mortgages - ARGH!!

Hi Victoria,

Definitely have a search through older posts as I know there's been some really good advice given on this subject.  The only problem is whether it's still relevant advice as so much has changed in the past year or so with all the banks making it much harder for everyone who wants a mortgage and much larger deposits are definitely a must now.

I got a mortgage on my stipend combined with my other half's full time salary. We originally got our mortgage with Northern Rock (before the crash), then remortgaged with Nationwide, both were fine with the stipend.  I think the most important thing is that you are not the main applicant, but the main salary is from a "proper" full time job. This was my situation and if I had been the main applicant then I don't think we would have got the mortgage.

Even those on fixed term contracts can get mortgages (or at least they used to- not sure if that's changed), it's just the length of the contract that's important, I think they want over 2 years remaining on the contract, so a stipend fulfills this requirement. Also I was questioned about the likelihood of another position afterwards- they seemed to think someone with a PhD would be highly employable (we all know that isn't strictly the case in the current market, but I wasn't about to correct them! ;-) )

It's important to go into lots of detail about what the stipend is, such as it being tax free and only for living costs and not for any tuition fees etc.  It also really helps to get the graduate administrator (or equivalent) to write on uni headed paper an explanation of what the stipend is and how long it lasts, this really helped me. You'd be surprised at how many automatically said no, without even really understanding what the stipend was.

As you say, the best thing is just to try as many as possible, but to be armed with lots of info about the stipend can only help.

Good luck

Last 2 months - panic setting in

Hi Kikuka,

I think you'll be fine. You've survived the hard part and got to the end of your PhD, despite lots of issues along the way, so well done. I genuinely think you can do it with the time you have left. I've got to submit at the end of Sept and have a similar amount done as you, and I'm keeping the faith that I can get it all done it that time, so I'm sure you can too!

Keep a positive frame of mind- if you believe you can do it, then you can :-)

Good luck

Impossibly last minute - any miracle stories?

Hi Phdalex,

You're not alone in procrastinating your way into blind panic. Along with some personal stuff and the inevitable writer's block I've managed to leave everything till the last minute. I've been putting my supervisor off for months with excuses about why they can't read any of my drafts yet (when in fact I hadn't written anything).

I have to submit my completed thesis by 30th September- this is my maximum registration and I don't have a good enough excuse to get an extension. So about 3 weeks ago, something finally clicked (I have no idea what) and I sat down and started writing. For months before this I would sit at the computer staring at a blank screen unable to even start a sentence.

In the last three weeks I have written the first draft of all 3 of my results chapters and completed final drafts of all my figures (I'm in cell biology so have loads of images of cells and graphs etc to mess about with in Photoshop and Illustrator). These drafts are going off to my supervisor to read tomorrow. Then I'll get onto my introduction. I've so far managed about 1500 words, so I've got a long way to go, but now I've made a real start, it seems to flow much more easily than I ever thought possible.

It will still be tight time wise, but I really think I can do it. And if I can write my entire thesis in 2 and a half months, then you can definitely get 20,000 words done in 6 weeks. I think it's a matter of self-belief more than anything else. I spent so long thinking I couldn't do it, that I actually couldn't. Once I really thought I could (possibly because it was so close to submission that I just had to start), it was much easier. It's still hard work, but not that kind of soul-destoying horribleness that comes from writer's block.

The only advice I can give is to get the first paragraph on the page, and the rest will come if you really believe you can do it- which you can! :-)

Also, read this forum for motivation whenever you start to feel like you can't do it. I don't post on this forum much, but I read it regularly, and you'd be surprised at how motivating it is to read about other people's success stories, or even to know you're not the only one struggling...

Lot's of luck, and get writing! ;-)