I just wondering how much the output of VIVA depends on my performance in the VIVA and how much depends on my submitted thesis? I ask this, because my supervisor has told me he thought my work is sufficient for PhD but not confident about the actual writing-up. In his mind, the major problem of my thesis is the structure. But I think it's OK, as the structure best cope with the content, also my supervisor only supervised one thesis before and come from industry without PhD. Now my VIVA is soon, I am quite nervous about it，Particularly when I am thinking about the output of VIVA has been decided as the external is a close colleague of my supervisor. So can anybody here give me a idea about how much the output of VIVA depends on the performance in the VIVA normally?
Also my VIVA is next Wednesday. I will be deeply appreciated about any tips about being prepared to it。
I was told that you start from zero in your viva- no matter how good the thesis is, you have to impress them with your defense. But, having said that, my experience was quite nice, the viva was fine and there was no need to get so stressed out about it beforehand. I know this is easy for me to say, but you really just need to have read your thesis and go in there and enjoy it as much as you can! it is quite a nice feeling to discuss your work so rigorously with other academics who you respect. Good luck for next week;-)
Good luck Jiou, I am sure you will be fine in your viva - just do your best. Please let us know how you get on. Best wishes.(up)
I've actually been told the opposite of Ju-Ju (which just goes to show how cloak and dagger the viva experience is).
I was told that in the vast majority of cases, when you walk into the viva room you've already pass or failed, and unless you do something catastrophically bad, e.g. give them the impression you didn't write the thesis or insult the examiners, then the result will stand. In a minority of cases, the examiners will be undecided about their decision, and you then have to fight your corner.
Thus, it's of little use getting all worked up about the viva, as the outcome is already decided before you walk in, but equally it's important to defend to the best of your ability in case you're an undecided borderline case.
I'm approaching the submission stage myself and I've been told more or less the same thing as missspacey. If your thesis is good you'll pass as long as you don't give the impression that someone else wrote it. Obviously in the majority of cases there will be some things that the examiners will want correcting. If your thesis is borderline then I was told that it's about convincing the examiners that the work is good enough.
As for preperation I couple of people told me to go through the thesis page by page and write down in a line the main aspect of that page, do this for every page and it shows you know your thesis inside out. Obviously I haven't had my viva yet so I haven't tried it myself
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At the end of the day the decision is down to the examiners. Your supervisor won't be able to influence the decision that's made. But choice of external examiner has been made by your supervisor and as they are research associates and close, it is likely that they will have similar views of the field and similar ideas, and go about things in similar ways. Likewise you will presumably share similar views to your supervisor (and hence the examiner) meaning you and your examiner will in all likelihood look at things in similar ways, which should result in your work being viewed in a good light
I recently examined at my first Viva (internal examiner).
FYI, I passed the guy (minor corrections for typos + clarification/ 1 month to resubmit), his PhD was very, very good and watertight. As you know I am very critical, and nitpicky but honestly there was nothing I could find wrong with it. The only probing question I asked was why he chose to format the results in the manner that he did. He explained it well, but even so walking into the room I knew I couldn't possibly fail him on that. For him we both knew he had passed, as long as he didn't do anything horrific (e.g. not speak English, confessed to plagiarism or jump on the table and wave his genitals at us). If I am being honest it was like a friendly talk and lasted for an hour. If I am being even more honest it could have lasted 5 minutes.
From my understanding and chatting with the very nice external examiner its not always like this. He divided vivas into 3.
The first are like the ones above. Very well designed, coherently constructed and often already published. There is very little to do than ask polite questions and allow a decent amount of time to elapse before sending them on their way with a smile and a handshake. (Mainly minor corrections or outright passes)
The second are good theses but do have methodological flaws. These can last a long time, and the defender has the job of negotiating damage limitation. Often at this point its between agreeing between minor corrections and major corrections depending on how they perform on the day/ how good their defence is. You probably are not going to viva them again. I felt my own PhD fell into this category.
The third are theses which should fail really. Either badly written, poorly designed or the author has missed the point somewhere along the line. However, there is an onus to not fail PhD students (recent political pressure) so resubmissions and re-vivas are often the outcome. I understood at this point the student is fighting for either significant re-writing or accepting an MPhil. He had been at a couple of these and he said these vivas were deceptively quick, unless the student becomes beligerent (which doesnt help their chances).
In addition I have seen a few outright failures. I know about these from working in the PG committee. Sadly, none have been the students fault -Its the supervisors complete neglect or shocking behaviour (like one PhDer who ended up basicially as a self funded RA for her supervisor). Thankfully quite rare, but shouldnt happen at all.
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