The format of my viva centred around questions asked of each sequential chapter.
1) So, initially, I'd made an introductory quote about how research is a messy business. The first question was by the external on this quote and how I could relate it to my research - so my general ups and downs with the process (probably to authenticate it as my research).
2) Next question was why I felt my research was necessary - based on the contents of my first chapter.
3) Question based on a narrative review that was my second chapter - just generally related to how I'd reviewed the studies.
4) Question based on the fundamentals of the theories underpinning my research - which covered my third chapter - so just testing how broad my knowledge-base was really. This chapter was also a systematic review, so they did ask about how 'systematic I tried to be.
5) I was asked a question on my theoretical framework in terms of how it links together - why I decided to do such and such.
6) I was asked a question on the transition of my research worldview, which was in my methodology chapter. The external was amazed at how a positivist could become a pragmatist, so I was asked a bit about it here.
7) We then got on to the nitty-gritty of the sampling and the potential limitations of it. Also, specificly (excruciating detail), how I went about my purposive sampling (how did I make sure it was actually purposive?). They really wanted evidence and explanation.
8) They asked my to clarify certain calculations I had made and why I had done certain things in my method.
9) Really not anything asked regarding my results, per se. They seemed happy with it.
10) Again, nothing regarding my discussion chapter (not interpretations of my work and inferences), except that they would like me to add more information on the limitations of my research into my discussion chapter.
11) Questions on the applications of my work. How would I implement it in practice? How would such and such be used?
12) Questions on my future research plans. They tried to make sure that I fully understood the implications of my future research plans.
And that was it really. It wasn't horrible. I was asked to define everything and provide detailed definitions of X and Y. It was just like a conversation. But there is a caveat or two, which I'll put in the next post.
One of my examiners was a bit of a cantankerous, contrary sod and the reason I got some corrections. Which one do you think it was? The internal who is supposed to represent the university and act professional, or the external? It was the internal. Her recommendations for corrections are ridiculous but, hey ho, it speaks of the subjective nature of the viva. My external was really impressed with my work and said he felt it was more than worthy of a PhD (I'm really not bragging - they were his words). But my internal (probably politics or something) kept asking the same questions over and over again. My external became visibly agitated, kept mentioning the time and then because I had been talking for so long...I lost my voice. But still she kept on. My viva actually got to 2 hours and a quarter and my external just suddenly called time (my internal was a bit shocked by this) - clearly the chair wasn't doing her job! I got sent outside and for their decision and they deliberated for ages (1/2 hr). Anyroad, I kid you not, I got called back in and the internal was red-faced and flustered - the external, me and my sups reckoned, had had a go at her.
The external congratulated me lots and recommended that I get my researcher published as quickly as possible because he reckons it's very worthwhile. Essential to me was that my research was methodologically sound, so I asked him at this point and he said certainly. Then I got my corrections - I thought really petty stuff, but I bit my tongue.
So, just be aware that internal politics and motivations can shape your viva to some degree and that's something that you really can't anticipate.
I hope this recount of my viva proves helpful to all of those waiting for their vivas, as did other people's reconstructions of theirs for me. If you have any further questions about the viva, please ask.:-)
eeek Wal, I'm so pleased for you, congratulations! You so deserve this :-)
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