======= Date Modified 18 Dec 2010 11:10:08 =======
I have been a lurker here for the past few years, but thought I would share the good news as this place has helped me so much! Just reading what other people are going through and realising that I wasn't alone. I have been so close to giving up, but my friends and you lot have kept me going.
I was sure the examiners were going to find me out and send me home without a PhD and I still can't believe I've done it. All the way through I've felt like an impostor who shouldn't really be there and that everybody else were so much better.
This is just really weird. Think it might take a few days to sink in. Got minor corrections, so I am well chuffed. Was dreading having to do more experiments.
Thanks everyone for the support you unknowingly have been giving me :-)
hey little star - now you are a big star!! he he. Congratulations and well done x have a good future.
Thanks guys :-)
It's starting to sink in a bit now, but don't think I'll feel completely finished until I've done the corrections and handed in my final bound copies.
As for Q&A... Here goes. I'm in biological sciences so different subjects probably have different questions but I'll let you know how my viva was. I had really nice examiners. I knew my internal, but had never met my external before so although my supervisor told me he was nice I wasn't sure what to expect.
It was mainly my external doing the talking and asking the questions while my internal just brought up a couple of things he was unsure about.
He started off by saying he enjoyed reading my thesis and it was good quality work so he didn't have any reason to fail me on the grounds of the thesis, but that there were some points he would like to go through. It was reassuring to hear that at the start because I was so nervous.
He then asked me what I'd done for my undergrad, why I had decided to do a PhD and how I'd ended up doing that project.
He then proceeded to say my lit review was well written and comprehensive and he found it useful as there was some biochemistry stuff he didn't know about.
Then he said he'd just go through the results chapters of my thesis one by one and asked me to give a brief summary of the main purpose and findings of each one before they went through them.
He asked quite a lot of hypothetical questions like how would you conduct an experiment to investigate xyz. Where would you find X information. He also asked how could I do the experiments I'd done differently and would that be any better and would I do it different if I was to start over again now. Another thing he asked quite a lot was how would you explain to an undergrad that you did this experiment. That was probably to make sure I knew why and how I'd done stuff and that it was me that had done it.
They also asked about a couple of things I hadn't thought about, which I just said no, I hadn't thought about that, but it was good points so it would be worth investigating further. I still didn't fail even if I hadn't thought of everything and had forgotten some stuff.
I got the impression they wanted to find out that I knew what I'd done, the limitations of it and how it could be improved. They didn't ask any questions at all about my discussions which I was a bit surprised about, nor did they ask what the significance of my work was, so hopefully that was apparent from my thesis.
A few people told me beforehand that you can't prepare for your viva, but I spent a lot of time making sure I knew all the stuff in my lit review as I was sure they would find out I hadn't read enough (I did most of the reading as I was writing the Intro). They didn't really ask me any background questions apart from stuff related directly to my project so that was a complete waste of time although it did make me feel more prepared and as a consequence slightly less nervous.
I would probably say that my preparations didn't help me whatsoever. The questions they asked I could answer because I knew what I'd done and how I would do it different if I was to repeat it, which I think you maybe realise as you're going through your PhD anyway.
It was definitely not as bad as I had anticipated, but maybe I was just lucky and had really nice examiners. I had expected a complete interrogation where they told me everything I had done was rubbish and I would have to argue against that and defend my work. Instead it was more a question and answer session to make sure I understood it, had done it myself and to clear up anything that they weren't sure about. All through the viva they pointed out the good points as well as the bad, which kept my spirits up because it made me feel like I wasn't completely useless.
I have to move some of my results discussion into my general discussion, change
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