I cant believe I only found this forum now...I am so annoyed that I didn't look for something like this years ago.
Anyways my thesis defense is next week and I am a bag of nerves...so much that even looking at my thesis makes me want to vomit. Some of my friends went through their Vivas recently and they all came out really good and so positive...I feel that has given me extra stress in case mine doesn't go as well :( I know everyone is different but I cant help comparing myself to them. When I ask them questions they just keep saying what a great experience it was and how I shouldn't worry...this isn't helping as I would prefer just some practical advise. Has anyone some good suggestions about how they deal with nerves or preparing for the viva??
Anything would be much appreciated
Regarding nerves, I just don't think about things that make me nervous, that's all I can do.
Viva prep, you need to make sure you know the thesis inside out, go through a list of potential questions, be sure you can draw complicated things if they ask you to, think of how the examiner's research is going to be informing the direction of the viva, be prepared to stand your ground when you are right otherwise they will tell you to change something to their way of thinking when it may be wrong, if they ask you what you thesis is about make sure you can answer in one or two sentences and then expand on this for a few minutes, know the ares in which your research has made a contribution to the literature, know where you are going to take the research next, know what the big developments in your field are going to be.
Some decent advice above but you simply cannot know how it will go until you get in there. Neither can you prepare much other than know exactly what you did during your PhD, why you did it, what else you considered and rejected, how your work fits in to other work in the field and how you have advanced the body of knowledge in this area.
The objective of a viva is to check you wrote the thesis and performed the work and that you have sufficient quality and quantity of work to justify the top award our education has to offer. In my opinion, a lot of people struggle in the viva because they have been put forward to viva with insufficient papers and this puts them at a very serious disadvantage. People do still pass with no papers but you make things very difficult.
If you have 2 or preferably 3 good papers where you are either first author or had a significant input and you have also written those papers then you should pass fairly comfortably.
pm133 is correct about this, this is very important too, but not always something you have control over if you get to viva stage with no papers.
Having said that, I do think that already having a paper published was one of the things that swung my result from major corrections to minor. My examiner did not appear impressed with me at all in any aspect but I had published something so obviously other people must have thought my work was worth something, which made it difficult for him to argue too much. That didn't stop him criticising my paper as well though of course.
I'd say most people in my area go into the viva with 0-1 papers. Very rarely will people have more than this, although they may have others in the pipeline as I did.
That's just people I know and what I see happening in my department. My field is molecular biology, but I see this with behavioural biologists and ecologists too - it takes a while to design studies and then get results. For ecology you may need results over several field seasons. For molecular biology you may spend years getting something to work.
Thanks guys...this all really helps.
In relation to papers, I don't have any published as its a palaeoecology thesis and it takes a long time to get all the results in, so its rare to have papers published. However I do have outline ideas for papers that I want to publish and each results chapter in my thesis is set out with a paper in mind and that is how it is normally done in my university.
The Viva is tomorrow so I will know soon enough if it all works out for me :)
I passed my PhD defense, both the internal and external examiners were very happy with the thesis and I only received minimal corrections (about 4-5 days work). The nerves left me as soon as I started talking so that was good and the examiners really put me at ease. So all in all, a very good result.
Thanks again for all your suggestions, it really did help.
Congratulations and well done! Thanks for the post. Hope you have a fine time celebrating-sounds very well deserved :)
I found this just in time for my defense. I have three days until Wednesday morning. I plan to re-read my thesis and major articles around the topic. I am still struggling about my presentation though... I changed the outline three times then my supervisor changed two more times, and now I am confused a little. But probably will be okay. A friend of mine told me to have some definitions handy just in case. But it can go so wide.. I don't even know which terms I should look at. I guess, all of this part of a regular anxiety... Any suggestions?
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