A question really for people who have already got through their vivas and can look back and reflect!
So I have my viva in about 6 weeks, just 6 days after submission. Whilst this is good in some ways, I am also panicking about the lack of time I will have to prepare. Normally I prepare for any assessment thoroughly and leave myself plenty of time to cover all possible questions. Unfortunately this time I won't be able to prepare so comprehensively. I don't anticipate having much free time to prepare before submission either, as I'm trying to put together a project proposal for a fellowship funding call with pretty much the same deadline as my thesis.
So quite simply- looking back at your own experience, what do you think would have been the most useful things you could have done if you'd had only a week to prepare? Any advice or suggestions appreciated!
Thanks in advance, KB
Congratulations in getting this close. My advice would be to read your thesis through without paying too much attention to regrets, typo corrections etc. Then print out the table of contents (ideally enlarged on an A3 page) and take notes on it first to become familiar with sections. Then use colour-stickers to colour code the different chapters and place small notes with short prompts to yourself inside the actual thesis. Pay special attention to methodologies and terminology used within. The questions will be very specific at the viva, therefore the minute you hear them, answers will be formed in your head straight away as you are the living proof of your thesis. It is not like a job interview. You are not there to impress examiners but to defend your work. 1 week is a good time to bring a lot of information together. Good luck (up)
I wouldn't bother reading your thesis, since you'll just have finished writing it!
Instead I would recommend focusing on answering my 5 core questions, which between them cover far more on longer lists of potential viva questions. This takes very little time.
The questions are: originality of my thesis, contribution to knowledge, methodology, weaknesses/gaps/mistakes, and what would I do differently if starting again.
I don't think rereading it in just a week between submission and viva would help Keenbean. There's a need for a bit of distance (in terms of time) when rereading the thesis, otherwise you are just going through the motions. That's why I'm recommending other approaches.
Know your thesis thoroughly which you of course will.
Know your weaknesses and how you can address them with suggestions for improvement as that may form a large part of the discussion.
Be aware of the larger reading surrounding your topic so if you get asked if you could do this again what would you do differently or if you can/apply do your research elsewhere you can answer that.
Know where your work fits in into wider subject
Know what is original about it
Know the aims/objectives of what your are trying to achieve
You seem to have everything covered so I would not worry about it too much as it'll be fresh in your mind so the answers will come easily though easily said than done! Remember to take a deep breath, time to think and get a good sleep the night before so your are fresh the next day and not tired!
You could revise what you think they'll ask but this is quite hard as they always ask stuff you don't expect and may go on a tangent depending on the interests of the examiners. You could do chapter summaries so this should help you breakdown the key themes in your thesis.
If you don't know something don't blag as I was told by my supervisors as they can see through that!
The structure of my viva was to start off with the "easy" more general stuff before going into more detail about my results and analyses! Funnily enough they didn't really ask what I thought they would really go into detail about as I had spent ages swotting up on them and less so on the stuff they did ask so you never can tell. They did sort start to go off on a tangent into an area I was less familiar with as it was loosely connected with my project but what one of my examiners is into so I told them the general answer and said I didn't know more detail as it wasn't the focus of my research.
I hope this helps. You'll be fine as you know it all having been studying it for the past few years. Think of it more like a long chat (probably the longest one you'll have on your research ever!) where you can show them what you know especially as you are the expert! Remember to have confidence to say what you think and get your point across! It's something I wished I had more of as I can think of things now that I wished I had said or answered differently!
Good luck (up)8-):p
I think it is mainly a confidence thing. I think it very important that you feel comfortable with your thesis and are happy to defend it. This means that, in my opinion, one should not do too much, especially if you only have a week for preparation. Last thing you want is being exhausted at the viva. Make sure you sleep a lot, do sport, try and rest a bit.
You will have just finished writing, so everything / details will be fresh in your mind. As such I would try to get an overview and concentrate on a few key questions, I think the ones that Bilbo brings forward are very good and worked well for me at my viva. I think having a short summarised thesis in your head would be good too.
So, "I can do it", key questions and overview / short summary.
If you are getting 1 weeks time for viva that's quite enough. For viva it's important that you know your thesis well. Just be thorough with your thesis, keep on preparing notes on important points and consider the viva as an interesting discussion. And on the day of viva feel relieved that finally the day has come and keep the spirit up. Think that this is the part of regular process and be confident on your preparation. Then you'll notice that how easy the things are. Best of luck(up)
For reasons that others have outlined, I actually think that doing a viva in this timescale is a huge advantage and that you'll sail through it because you've just asked yourself the questions, on the final edit, that they'll be asking you. No panic, get some distance (only a bit) and just enjoy it!
my hubby only spent 2 days preparing for his viva - much to my dispair! He just looked over his complicated stuff - made sure he'd calculated it all ok (its maths based), and he also had to prepare a 20 min presentation. So he threw some slides together in about 20 mins, I made him practice it twice and he was done. And he passed with about 4 bullet point corrections like, one which was "this table needs to be on 1 page, not over 2" and similar - so annoying isn't it!?
Hmmm, thanks all- this all sounds reasonably reassuring! I think I had it in my head I needed to have re-read every single reference and have written answers to hundreds of possible viva questions. I am going to a viva prep workshop at my uni next week but I'm worried this will scare me senseless rather than reassure me, so not really sure if it's a good idea as I guess it will be geared towards most people having a couple of months to prepare. Anyway, thanks for your suggestions, that's really helpful! KB
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