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Viva Voce preparation

Hi Ammu,

I would refrain from any answers referring to your chosen research methods as it indicates you are not certain about your choices and decisions made along the project. You've not given enough context but if you're in natural sciences nothing about failed results - this is a question to reflect on any lessons you've learned as a result of your choices.

A good way to connect this answer is to relate it to comments for future study that are usually found in the conclusion of your thesis.

Good luck,

What to do?

Hi Katie,

What are the negative comments about? It appears you at the end of your 2nd or beginning of your 3rd year. Is it about the direction of the study, your research outputs/presentations or your thesis chapters?

Be more specific and people can advise. It might be that they are trying to advise you but not necessarily being considerate.

Another way to approach it is - is to talk about future plans. You can kind of tease out their perceptions of where you are professionally.

All the best,
Also Katie

Mental Health Awareness Week 15-21 May 2023

Anxiety is the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 in the UK.

We have all been there.

I won't pretend to understand everyone's daily struggles but just know things will only get worse if you stay in your own head.

There are times you won't be okay and that's okay.

Talk to someone you trust, get off your computer, take a comfort break, call that friend up for a walk.

People around you might not understand the pressures of (post)PhD life but that's because they've never done one.

Anxiety is a natural response to the uncertain world around us.

How do you keep yourself right?


Does anyone have a strategy for balancing academic coursework, research, and personal life?

Hi Erika,

To put it simply, strict limits to where you use your research time. Excel has a to-do list function where you can set small tasks and tick them off. Don't let your down time be eaten up by preparations for work - it's not worth it. Talk with new people often (work and non-work related) and write small pieces of work regularly.

All the best!

Mortgage v Researcher


I've been in consistent part time RA work since graduation in summer 2022 and have co-authored 3x research publications since.

But I am 32, have a partner, living in the UK, have little savings and want to look into buying a home.

I'm currently a temporary RA for a university.

How do mortgage providers view us researcher's? I'm anxious due to the temporary nature of some research work I won't be received well.

P.S. I am organising a meeting with an advisor but just wondered if anyone had homeowner or advisor experience?


Can I reject some Viva Corrections?

Hi Teo,

I would strongly advise further assistance from your supervision team on this. I was asked to remove an entire chapter but I refused on the basis that it was necessary to ensure the full policy context could be understood by a reader who was not from Northern Ireland. After my viva corrections, the internal examiner had to go through and check that the list of corrections was completed. So you will need to bear this in mind too, before you are formally given your graduation date.

Good luck,

Newbie jitters? Or absolute mistake?

Hi there,

You're only a few months in right? What you're feeling is perfectly normal at the moment. There are a whole range of qualitative methods, can I ask which ones you are including in your research?

By the time you finish your research, you are going to be seen as a really strong candidate for a post-doc research associate or any other related position. You are going to have the knowledge and confidence to design, lead and conduct research using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

I understand there are less maps and rules on how to do qualitative research but there are ways to do so. Have you considered triangulated research methods? There are also many research articles on how to better design and build methodological rigour into qualitative projects.

PM me if you have any questions, no matter how big or small. I'm a qualitative methods specialist with experience in thematic analysis, critical discourse analysis and a ton of qualitative interviewing experience.

Good luck,

Drowning in theory

We should chat! I am always happy to find a fellow critical discourse analyst. Its like finding pokemon! Anyway, I used DHA for my political science PhD but I combined DHA and historical institutionalism. If you want some advice or want a second set of eyes - we can chat further through email if you wanted to PM me!

How many interviews do I need for qualitative PhD?

Quite a common question. The answer is, it depends on the aim of your research question. My PhD was predominantly qualitative. Like hatemyphd84 says, the sampling rationale should specify your rules of inclusion. For my study, it was really important to speak to people who were actually involved in the processes I am interested in. For example, my PhD was interested in the emerging discourses around marriage equality in social and political contexts. I specifically marked differences in potential sampling groups between grassroots activists and campaign leaders as they held different levels of knowledge in terms of what was happening within the wider movement. Ultimately, I restricted my sample (n=10) to include only those who were closely involved in campaign communications (mind my study was mixed methods). So, it might be helpful to think - why are you talking to your current sample? And, why are there experiences important to your research? Hope this helps!

PostDoc Interview Baiting

@tru you think? I sure hope so, I just need a chance is all. I will in the meantime try to get a first author journal article accepted. Thank you! All the best yourself :)

Pre-Interview Requests for UNPUBLISHED work - normal?

Ah yes, I see now. Thank you for your thoughts! I've only recently started to apply for post docs. There is one out there for all of us!

PostDoc Interview Baiting

@rewt Good luck with your submission. Dont worry about the viva at all, you'll be suprised how much your brain will sing during the voce!

Sounds like a great plan! All the best with it! Can I just say Im so glad I found this forum, great advice from everyone.

My last few projects have focused heavily on sensitive issues, so subject matter is really important beyond what I am trained and educated for.

P.S. If you're a PhD newbie with little experience be sure to apply for your university or colleges research assistant registers! These can help to keep us afloat before postdoc work.

At this point, Id accept any rate so long as its understood as my stepping stone to something bigger.

Pre-Interview Requests for UNPUBLISHED work - normal?

Long story short, asked to submit a sample of writing (not unpublished specifically). Having had no accepted publications at the time of request, I had to submit a chapter of my unpublished work. Is this common practice if the candidate has no publications?

While I am not saying my work is even worthy to borrow or learn from but, I'm afraid I have given those of considerably higher standing than me leads of inquiry, potential new theoretical frameworks to pursue and a fair bit of background knowledge on their chosen topic of study.

Moreover, I feel reflecting on my previous post that the reason why questions are geared towards, 'How would you approach/design said 'fieldwork example' is because its also a fishing exercise to get ideas on how to actually approach their study. I found it very strange the wording around the topic was very vague and unclear about the analytical angles of the chosen topic of study.

PostDoc Interview Baiting

@tru your right, yes. My phd is actually in PolSci with highly specific methods expertise. I could but their actually different fields and specialisms Im not keen on.

I'm considering reaching out to industry based teams to get some 'other' experience. Possibly R&D, analytics work but they usually require quantitative experience.

I'm a qual only 😭 I knew this would be a massive catch. Still, I'm going to take the leap and continue to publish in the background to keep both doors open. I'll get there eventually 😩. Cut throat world this.

PostDoc Interview Baiting

Thank you for your reply. Yes, for academia there is always a degree of relational politics which is expected I suppose. Also, I am not officially a postdoc yet so there is that. Aiming for a major journal publication this year.

Im at a bit of a career impasse, unsure whether to continue into academia or to try to break into industry. I've been continually working multiple jobs and studying for the last 9 years. Exhausted is not the word.