Jojo's viva journey - preparation and viva - sigh...


======= Date Modified 16 Nov 2010 14:30:52 =======
Hi all........

its good to finally say am preparing for my viva... even though i don't have the date yet.

i got given the names of my examiners..... which am really happy with because they are exactly what i wanted. the internal is the leading scholar in the general field and they take a practical approach to the field which is great. the external is also a leading scholar in the specific area of my thesis, but is more keen on theory than internal. they're both old with no points to prove and i've heard they are quite nice from students they've supervised and one they've examined. therefore i have no excuse not to pass this if i can hold my nerve... :$

my current concern is i spoke to the student they examined and although they told me the viva was easy going because they were told they'd passed even before it began... and therefore it ended up being a discussion, they got minor corrections for not including a particular branch of literature in the thesis. my problem is that the external is quite interested in this literature and i had read it but cut it out of the thesis because of word count! can i talk my way out of this and show them that i know it and therefore don't have to go off and redo it?

otherwise am ok..... and have decided to start this diary to keep everyone posted on how am preparing and for you to give me tips on how to prepare as well. i will also announce the final outcome on here..... sigh ( so nervous saying that. including a list of questions i will have been asked. :p)

oh i almost forgot, another thing am really scared of is i have never talked about my thesis to anyone. never. now i have to articulate it for 2 hours.:$ but i plan to address this before the viva. and no i can't have a mock viva with my unavailable supervisor before you suggest and i work away from uni and have no pet to repeat my answers to. maybe the mirror or maybe i'll find a few people. we'll see.. sigh.

am told that the viva will be sooner rather than later. so am taking it that it could be any time between two weeks from now to a month. will let you know the date when i know it.

am also working part-time - two days a week, taking a professional course part-time - (which never happens in reality) but have a number of assignments to hand in by mid december on this other course, to ease my transition into industry and preparing for my viva and trying to publish at the same time. am not the best at organisation and therefore am only able to make it to work because i need to to survive and the other stuff gets neglected! so this diary is to help me to see how am doing and to give you the opportunity to keep me on my toes regarding the viva.

ps: i need all the luck i can get!



======= Date Modified 16 Nov 2010 14:32:58 =======
Good luck Jojo!!!

the way i prepared for my viva. was that I compiled a list of possible viva quesions from a book about how to survive your viva. if you want a copy of the long list of viva qs, i'm happy to pm them to you, or pm me your email addy, and i can send them to you. its a very long list, so you have been warned! 63 i think.

also i summarised all the different sections of my thesis, like 1 or 2 sentences of each section. and just practiced talking about my thesis by myself. just stand up and pretend you're giving a lecture or something, you can put teddy bears or something as your audience, or just imagine you're in a lecture room, with eager students listening to every word you're saying!

I'll be rooting for you every step of the way! (up)


so great to see you post again Lara! thanks. your journey was an inspiration. congratulations once again. :-)


just seeing your full post Lara! yes.... that'd be great! i'd love all those questions. maybe i can do a few each day!! and thanks ever so much for the support. you can pm me here, i'd really appreciate that...

practicing on my own is a good idea, though am almost afraid of hearing my own voice talking about the subject which is what i must get past....sigh. not that i have a choice now. lol. i really have to start doing that. thanks for the tip! (up)


======= Date Modified 16 Nov 2010 15:11:30 =======
Aww thanks! you're very welcome and thank you for your kind words! I really appreciate it! :-)

Okay great, I will send the questions by pm. Yes do a few each day, it will give you a "task" to do and make it easier to prepare for the viva. and you will end up learning more about your thesis without realising it.


okay pms sent! sorry I couldnt fit them in less pms, (you should have 6 pms). hope it helps! if you have any questions, dont hesitate to ask :) Good luck! you will do great!


Hi Jojo, you are almost their, well done!  I am still finishing the discussion then the long haul of editing, arghhh! But I shall watch this with interest as I hope to be treading a similar path very soon.  In order to gain experience in talking about your thesis why don't you set up a tape recorder when you practice on the teddy bears (lol) so that you can play it back for evaluation. I am sure you will be critical of your own recording a couple of days later so can hopefully improve that way.  Alternatively can you 'Skype' your supervisor or a PhD colleague for a mock viva/chat about your thesis? I am distant from my uni so Skype is a free way of face-to-face communication with my supervisory team.

Good luck with the prep!


I'm glad you finally know who your examiners are, although I haven't got much good advice on how to prepare for it. I read my thesis a few times before my viva, and didn't turn for my mock viva because I was more worried about that than the real thing.

i.e. my preparation was rubbish... but I passed with minor deficiencies a few weeks back. I don't think I really did myself justice (the first hour was all about my introduction and I said "I don't know" quite a lot :$) . I got into it more as it went on, it didn't feel anywhere near threee hours though 8-)


thanks Lara. I've received them and will take a look at them and work through them one by one...... don't worry about the length!

@Dunni - skyping with a colleague is a very good idea. the tape recorder also sounds really good. i hadn't thought of that yet.. woah... discussion was the hardest section to write in my thesis but the most rewarding and actually the best chapter of my thesis and the one am banking on to get this phd. so hang in there and do a good job. it'll be over in no time!

@claudia- well done! am glad it worked out despite all the nerves. thanks for sharing your experience. it takes the pressure off.

today's aim:

1) watch phd viva video online - hope i can still find it.

2) look through and plan on how to address Lara's questions.

3) read the omitted chapter of thesis to ease myself back into the thesis.

4) look thro examiners publications and chose which one's i'll read.


wow.. the questions have made me get a feeling of nausea.. i better get down to work. lol. :)


I'd doubt that you can talk your way out of having to re-include some text in your thesis. Your thesis stands alone, and that's the ultimate thing you have to defend. It's not enough for you to have other knowledge in your head. So be prepared that you may need to re-include that text.

As for viva preparation, I took a very different route from Lara. Answering many dozens of potential questions would do me no good because I couldn't remember the answers in the viva (due to brain damage), and most of them wouldn't come up anyway. I actually found it very difficult to predict what questions my examiners would ask me.

So, instead, I concentrated my thinking on 5 core questions, the most essential ones that between them cover a lot of the rest: originality of my thesis, contribution to knowledge, methodology, weaknesses/gaps/mistakes, and what would I do differently if starting again.

My other viva preparation involved reading a viva preparation book (Tinkler and Jackson) to demystify the process, and rereading and summarising my thesis to familiarise myself with it and spot typos (I took a list into the viva on the day and handed it out at the start).


@ Bilbo - thanks. i think i like this idea of 5 main questions and just thinking through things. its far more relaxed. i also like the detail of Lara's questions, so i will pick some from there and learn my answers to the main questions..

reading the chapter i cut out was a good and bad experience. i got halfway through it before stopping. i didn't understand most of it so maybe its a good thing its gone. am shocked when i look back and at the time it made so much sense! either it was crap or i have forgotten all my stuff! am hoping its the former. am yet to watch the viva video which i'll do tomorrow as i want to get a good night sleep.

i have decided not to worry about the outcome of the viva and try to just be me and to do my best. i think selling a product in a way that's not me will only result in a disaster. so am gonna just work on a chapter by chapter 15 min presentation on what my thesis is about - this is what i'd have done originally and then start addressing the questions. but ofcourse, that's after i've even opened it and read it. a while back i remember reading til page 55 or something and finding few typos so i reckon i should be fine.

am guessing am allowed to take in my short notes and printed slides to the viva?


======= Date Modified 17 Nov 2010 01:02:06 =======
:$ i've just spotted a typo in my acknowledgment section! i missed it first time round though. hope that's a good sign.

i have managed to read through ch. 1 (that's about 30 pages of the approximately 300 hundred pages of my thesis). general feeling on a scale of 1 - 5:

Chapter 1: 5* :-) { i sound like i know what am talking about! and i can actually understand it! yipee!}

other achievements of today:

1) watch phd viva video online - hope i can still find it. (TOMORROW)

2) look through and plan on how to address Lara's questions. (DONE)

3) read the omitted chapter of thesis to ease myself back into the thesis. ( DONE halfway)

4) look thro examiners publications and chose which one's i'll read. (DONE but not chosen any to read.)

tomorrow's plan:

read through ch. 2 & 3 of thesis... even more if i can, the aim being to familiarise myself with the stuff and also look for typos. and hopefully also gain bags of confidence after discovering that my work is actually good..... will summarise in next reading round.

am off to sleep a happy girl. (yes, am female.... for those who asked on the weight watchers thread. :) )


======= Date Modified 17 Nov 2010 01:43:20 =======
you're welcome! hope it helps :) and good to know the length didnt scare you off!

Sounds like a good plan to me! pick and choose whatever works best for you! :)
and good job on getting all those tasks done already!!

and yes you can take whatever you want in with you to your viva. as many notes as you like. i took in alot of stuff, but didnt look at any of it, haha - but i just liked having it there, just incase, as a security blanket.

on the day of your viva, do not read anything, just have a coffee or whatever, and relax, and listen to something relaxing, i was listening to a podcast, to relax me.


Hi all. I am preparing for my viva too, and wondered if you would pm me the questions? I think it would really help me focus my prep as I am floundering a bit at the moment.
I haven't got a date yet, though it is likely to be January. I hope to get the date some time this week. Scary stuff.


So glad to be back! sigh.. so the update.

2 days ago (Wednesday) did nothing when my friends unexpectedly turned up and expected me to go shopping with them all day! clearly, i'd forgotten to deal with this area of my life. the last 6 weeks have taken a toll on the hibernation mode of phd years.

Yesterday.. worked all day, but managed to squeeze in three quarters of Ch.2. got to pg. 54. hopefully i can finish it today.

Today.. worked all morning then bought some house essentials. i feel so tired after carrying boxes all morning. i plan on taking a nap first before getting on with it. hopefully managed to finish ch. 2 & 3 today...... and hopefully no more typo discoveries.